The regional rounds of the 6th New Zealand Young Physicists’ Tournament were held on 9th April 2011 in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The event, originally planned to be in March before the earthquake in Christchurch, was postponed to allow the Christchurch schools time to get back to some semblance of normality. In addition the NZYPT National final of the event which was scheduled to be held in Christchurch has been moved to Auckland and will take place on Saturday May 14th 2011 at Auckland Grammar School.
Every year the NZYPT competition selects a series of seven open ended practical problems for teams to research. In 2011 the teams had to investigate a range of problems from flames bouncing in an electric field, levitating magnetic spinners to building a car powered by a balloon which maximised the efficiency of the car. Each problem required the students to develop new practical techniques and design and make apparatus to gather reliable data as well as carry out significant theoretical research. The hardest part for most teams was to distil the vast amount of information acquired in the experiments and the research into a 12 minute (and no more!) PowerPoint presentation.
In Auckland, the largest of the regional tournaments again this year, 15 teams from around the region met at Kings College and were welcomed to the event by NZYPT Chairman Gavin Jennings and Dr Maarten Hoogerland from the Auckland University, Department of Physics. The school teams were divided up into 5 rooms where they “fought” it out by presenting their solutions to the problems and discussing the physics behind the suggested solutions. The standard of the competition was higher than ever and it was good to see new schools taking up the challenge of this demanding event.
The dedication of the Physics teachers, lecturers and industry representatives who gave up their entire Saturday to act as judges over the 3 rounds of the event was appreciated by the organisers of the event and the students who were keen to continue explaining their ideas long after the “Physics fights” were over. In addition the successful running of the day was facilitated by the dedication and organisational skills of Elizabeth Schubert, Kings College.
At the end of an exciting day when all of the points were added up the two Auckland Grammar teams were placed 1st and 2nd with Kings College 3rd and St Cuthbert’s College in 4th place. These teams make it through to the National Final of the event where they will be joined by Lincoln High School (Christchurch) and Onslow College (Wellington). All of the students taking part in the regional competition were presented with certificates and they were keen to return to their schools and spread the word about this celebration of Physics ready for next year’s event.
1st Auckland Grammar
2nd Auckland Grammar
3rd King’s College
4th St Cuthbert’s