40th UBC Physics Olympics

We held our 40th UBC Physics Olympics on Saturday, March 10, 2018.  It was an extraordinary event. We had 6 very successful heats that the students were very excited about. We also had a record number of teams and students: 73 teams and 721 students. We had teams from all over BC and we had teams with more than 30 students. Our volunteers were also very engaged and I was very happy to have some of them from our Department – Latika, Angela and Liman.

In addition, I organized a professional development event for teachers that was attended by 35 teachers! We had two very successful BC teachers present their ideas: Mrs. Giselle Lawrence and Mr. Pouyan Khalili. Our event focused on new British Columbia science curriculum and on different ways of facilitating inquiry in a science classroom.  The enthusiasm and excitement were in the air for the entire day.

Finally, we had a number of special guests – the journalists from the local newspapers, as well as the Dean of Science and the Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. It was a big celebration of four decades of collaboration that are successfully engaging students and teachers in physics.

Here is a brief numeric overview of the 2018 event:

Infinity – The number of laughs and the level of excitement

1352 km – The distance from Terrace to Vancouver (the most remote school attending the event)

722 – Number of students attending the 40th UBC Physics Olympics

365 – Number of days we spent planning the event since the last year

108 – Number of medals awarded to top teams

82 – Number of team leaders (teachers and coaches) supporting the students

73 – Number of teams in attendance

71 – Number of volunteers supporting the event (faculty, graduate and undergraduate students)

40 – Number of UBC Physics Olympics we have organized so far

39 – The size of the largest team in attendance

35 – Number of physics teachers who participated in the Professional Development event

10 – Number of times Penticton Secondary School has won the overall event since 1977

6 – Number of heats (independent events during the day)

6 – Number of plaques awarded to the schools

2 – Number of pre-build events the students had prepared at home

2 – Number of large auditoriums we had to use to seat all the participants, coaches and volunteers for the final event.

1 – Number of Officers of the Order of Canada who facilitated our events (Dr. J. Matthews)

1 – The overall Physics Olympics Trophy

Submitted by
Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin
EDCP Representative on the 40th UBC Physics Olympics Organizing Committee