March 2019

41st UBC Physics Olympics – Reflections

This Saturday, on March 9, 2019 we held our 41st UBC Physics Olympics. More than 730 BC secondary students participated in the events. They represented 72 teams from all over British Columbia who worked tirelessly for months to create their pre-builds, prepare for the Fermi Question and Quizzics competitions, and get ready for the hands-on labs. We had teams from Vancouver Island, Nelson, Invermere, Kelowna, Whistler, Squamish and many other areas of BC. While the majority of the teams came from the Lower Mainland, many regions of BC were represented. While organizing and leading hands-on events for 734 students was a huge time and effort investment on behalf of the volunteers, faculty, students and their teachers, it was all worth it. I cannot even express how amazing it is to see so many teams figuring things out, working together and enjoying doing physics. For many students it was the first time they came to UBC do to physics.

This is an email I received from a Physics Teacher from Invermere, BC – Mrs. Tessa Reilly:

Thanks once again for all of the work you and your colleagues put into this event. Not only did my students have a great time, but it was a wonderful opportunity to boost their confidence. They tend to think that they have no chance at competing with “city kids” and don’t expect to succeed, but they are feeling a lot more positive about themselves and their futures at university now!

Tessa Reilly

Science Department Head and Teacher

David Thompson Secondary School

I was also so happy to see how many girls we had – it was a truly collaborative event where the students supported each other and had fun doing science:

Students are working on their timepiece. They had to design a device that can measure any given small time interval.

I also have to admit that I felt a little bit like “a physics grandmother” at this event. My own former students, who are now wonderful physics teachers all across BC came with their teams to compete. This was very special. I had ten of my former students in the event!

Students from Semihamoo Secondary School and their teacher Mr. Louay El Halabi celebrating their overall win – the big trophy is theirs for one more year!

We also had media on site and they interviewed the students who participated in the events:

And The Tyee:

I would like to thank all the volunteers, organizers, teachers and students who made this celebration of science possible! We are looking forward to the 42 event in 2020!

For more photographs go here.

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