March 2022

2022 Virtual UBC Physics Olympics

On Saturday, March 5, 2022, UBC Departments of Physics and Astronomy and Curriculum and Pedagogy organized our second ever virtual UBC Physics Olympics. UBC Physics Olympics has a history of more than four decades! This time, we decided to have a virtual event once again, to increase student participation and decrease the risk of spreading COVID. From our last year’s experience with the virtual UBC Physics Olympics, we know that having an online event has its own pros and cons. Yet, we were convinced that that at this time, the virtual Physics Olympics was the right choice. More than 50 teams from all across BC participated in the event (400+ students). We organized four different competitions as part of the 2022 UBC Physics Olympics: Pre-build: Smartphone elevator; Planetary Astronomy Lab; Quizzics, and Fermi Questions. I represented our Department and Faculty and interacted with many teachers and students. I collaborated with Drs. Valery Milner and Andrzej Kotlicki on the Smartphone Elevator event, which challenged students to build a mechanical device to lower the phone from the table to the floor with the minimal acceleration, while doing it as fast as possible. The students used a freely available Phyphox smartphone app to measure this acceleration, as well as the time it took to lower the phone. This was a great event, as it encouraged students to use the technology they already have to do science. We hope that this app will be used in their science labs from now on.

Based on the feedback from the students and teachers, the event was a huge success. As the teacher, Dr. Louay El Halabi (whose team won the overall First place) has written to me: “Thank you so much!!! A great event as usual attended by a substantial number of teams. Thank you Marina and all faculty who helped make this event a reality. Students need something like that to distract them from COVID routines. Just wrapped a team meeting with the students Congratulating them on their hard work.”

Congratulations to all the teams, the teachers, students, parents, and all the support team members who made it possible.

To learn more about the UBC Physics Olympics, please visit the event web site:

Brentwood School Smartphone elevator contraption

Burnaby South School Smartphone elevator contraption

Semiahmoo Secondary School Smartphone elevator contraption

Comments are closed.

Spam prevention powered by Akismet