King James' School

Success for Year 8 Students at the Physics Olympics

Success for Year 8 Students at the Physics Olympics

The 4 strong team, comprising Danielle Holdsworth, Annabel Hartmann, Stuart Hassall and Charlie Taylor were quite apprehensive as we made our way to St Peter’s School, York to take on 34 other schools from as far west as Chester and Manchester, north as Newcastle and east as Hull. They needn’t have worried!

The day is split into a series of 6 challenges - 5 x 30 minute, practical problem solving tasks and the last a mathematical estimation exercise.

The first challenge was to place 100ml of water into 2 containers and get the largest temperature difference between them. They were supplied with water at 70°C so had to keep some warm and get the half as cold as possible - they managed an amazing 62.6°C difference and comfortably won the task.

Challenge 2 was to get the maximum gravitational potential energy by constructing a support from 6 pieces of paper to support the maximum load at the maximum height. Again, a comfortable victory for KJS.

Challenge 3 - build a ‘boat’ to travel fastest down a waterway. Capacitors had to be charged using solar cells and the team had to choose how to utilise standard sets of equipment. Yet another KJS win. By this time it was beginning to get a little embarrassing - in the 10 year history of the event, no team had ever won more than 2 events, we had now won 3!

Challenge 4 involved designing an accurate ballista (type of catapult). This involved a lot of trial and error and the team finished a creditable 10th.

The final practical challenge involved using a mass-spring system to collect data to help find the mass of a teddy bear and then the density of silly putty. This task required careful precision in order to collect accurate, reliable data. KJS finished second in this round.

The ‘blue ribbon’ event - the Fermi challenge required the students to combine their mathematical skills with the ability to estimate to solve problems such as: “if you swept up all the hair cuttings from a hairdressers floor and spread them out over a double tennis court, how many hairs would you have?” and “if Jupiter was made from cheese, what would its mass be in kg?”. The internet was not allowed! King James’s once again came out victorious, completing an unprecedented 4 challenge wins and becoming overall champions.

The students did themselves proud with the teamwork they displayed, the way they listened to each other to perfect designs, their competitive edge and their very magnanimous manner in victory. A superb day, well done!

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