March 2013

35th Physics Olympics at UBC

On March 9th, the Department of Physics and Astronomy and our department – Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy once again will co-host the Physics Olympics. It is a very special event that brings to UBC campus hundreds of grade 11-12 physics students, parents and teachers. This year we have a record number of participating teams – more than 60 teams from all over BC (Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Okanagan, Terrace, etc.) will come to our campus. The event started 35 years ago by a few science professors at our departments. One of the people who devoted years (decades) to the Physics Olympics is Prof. Reg Wild. Reg has been the soul of this competition for years as he created a very special bond with many of the teachers who brought their students (it isn’t surprising as Reg had been a teacher of many of them). Thus it is not easy for me to try and fill Reg’s shoes… During the Physics Olympics, the students will compete in 6 different events. These events are organizing by the faculty members and students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy. My husband, Valery (who is a professor in Physics), is organizing one of these events. Thus this is becoming a somewhat family event for us (we hope our kids will take part in the event as well – one as a competitor – he is in grade 12 now) and another one as a volunteer (he is a UBC science student). However, what is more important is the feeling of excitement and inspiration these students bring. I always wonder if our secondary students have a chance to experience the exciment of physics. Not the excitement of getting an A on a test (which is still important), but the excitement of figuring something out – just for the sake of it. I think the Physics Olympics is a perfect opportunity for that and I am grateful to the teachers and parents and the students who will come to UBC this Saturday. I wish all the best to all of them and I know that this will be the event they will remember!

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