The UA High-School Physics Contest includes individual and team competition, as well as demonstrations of physics in action.
The individual test includes problems from mechanics as well as electricity and magnetism, aimed at areas most likely covered in the first half of the year.
The team competition (also known as the ciphering competition) takes on a different character. Students form four-person teams and tackle problems relay style, switching team members after each four problems. Speed as well as accuracy counts; more points are given for correct answers that are given early. Scoring is done in real time as runners carry team answers to the grading table, and the audience can follow both the questions and unfolding team scores.
Before the awards ceremony, we present a physics show of some favorite demonstrations of physics in action. This has been very popular with the attending students — projectiles, electricity, and flame!
During the individual written exam, there is a teachers’ program which has consisted of demonstrations of the Physics in Motion material available around the state, the new Studio Physics classrooms at UA, or updates on recent developments in physics or astronomy.
Awards are given for top individual scores overall, and for and best team performances in several school categories.
The evening before the contest, weather permitting, there is a viewing session with UA’s 16-inch reflecting telescope. The computer-controlled system gives spectacular views of the Moon, planets, and many deep-sky objects; we can often capture images for attendees to email to themselves. The observatory is located atop Gallalee Hall, at the northwest corner of University and Hackberry on the UA campus.