Sunday, February 23, 2014

University of Alabama Physics Competiton

Last Tuesday, I attended the physics competition at the University of Alabama. The first part of the competition was the individual written test. I was surprised that I had learned how to do many of the problems (I have not yet completed my first year of physics). However, it was rather frustrating that I had forgotten many of the equations to complete the problems; I'm used to an equation sheet with my physics tests. The test was very heavy on mechanics, and didn't include much of what we've learned in waves, although there was some work with circuits, which we have not covered yet. One of our students placed ninth out of all the students present in the individual test, the only one of our students to place.
The second part of the competition was a team competition. My team did decently well. MSMS is the only school in our division, so there were seven teams of MSMS students competing against each other. Normally, the AL School for Math and Science is in our division as well, but due to the rescheduling and short notice, they didn't make it this year. MSMS-6 took 1st place. MSMS-1 took 2nd place. And MSMS-2, my team, took 3rd place.
After the competition portion of the day, there are physics demos and so on to interest smart physics students in coming to University of Alabama to study physics. Unfortunately, I have little understanding of what people actually do in current physics, so much of the information about the search for neutrinos and dark matter was completely lost on me. The other presentation was rather disappointing - they were demonstrating using the same motion sensing equipment and DataStudio software that we routinely use in class. I suppose they had no way to know that we were already familiar with that system, but we were not the only ones who frequently used that type of equipment for physics labs.
The University of Alabama does have a pretty campus, and they're known for giving out generous merit aid. However, I don't know much about them. In the end, it was a good day and a fun trip. I missed a Tuesday, which is four classes, but I don't mind that much.

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