AIP Victorian Young Physicist's Tournament

AIP Victorian Young Physicist's Tournament

The Australian Institute of Physics (Vic Branch) Education Committee has established a competition for Year 11 physics students that promotes one of the best aspects of Physics, investigating questions and seeking explanations. Students form teams of three to carry out a range of experimental investigations drawn from a common set which they then present, and defend their findings, in scientific discussions with other teams 2-3 December, 2010.

Aims of the Tournament

This event is designed to encourage research skills, team work and communication skills. It is modelled on the Australian Young Physicists’ Tournament, which is held in Brisbane in March each year. Teams participating in the Victorian event can also participate in the national event the following year. At the national event in Brisbane an Australian team is selected to compete at the International Young Physicists' Tournament, which is held later at the mid year.

Stage 1 Problems:

1. Conductivity of pencil lines
The lines, drawn by so-called ‘lead’ pencils, conduct electricity.  Investigate the factors that determine the resistance of the line.

2. Ice
A wire with weights attached to each end is placed across a block of ice.  The wire may pass through the ice without cutting it.  Investigate the phenomenon.

3. Sand
Dry sand is rather ‘soft’ to walk on when compared to damp sand.  However, sand containing a significant amount of water becomes soft again.  Investigate the parameters that affect the softness of sand.

Stage 2 Problems:

4. Adhesive tape
Determine the force necessary to remove a piece of adhesive tape from a horizontal surface.  Investigate the influence of relevant parameters.

5. Slow descent
Design and make a device, using one sheet of A4 80 gram per square metre paper that will take the longest possible time to fall to the ground through a vertical distance of 2.5m.  A small amount of glue may be used. Investigate the influence of the relevant parameters.

6. Tipcat
Place a small wooden stick over the edge of a desk.  Hit the end of the stick overhanging the table so that it flies away.  How is the flight distance related to the relevant parameters?  What is the condition for a maximum horizontal distance?

7. Fingerprints
Fill a glass with a liquid and hold it in your hands.  If you look from above at the inner walls of the glass, you will notice that the only thing visible through the walls is a very bright and clear image of patterns on your fingertips.  Study and explain this phenomenon.

8. Vikings
According to a legend, Vikings were able to navigate in an ocean even during overcast (dull) weather using tourmaline crystals.  Study how it is possible to navigate using a polarising material.  What is the accuracy of the method?

Information and dates

- Schools can enter more than one team.
- There is no cost.
- Registrations close on Friday 17th September.
- This year's Tournament will be held at PLC, Burwood Highway, Burwood.
- All teams will compete in a round robin competition on Thursday 2nd December, the best three teams will compete in the final on Friday 3rd December.
- Teachers and students thinking of participating next year are welcome as spectators, but must also register.

An information session was held in Term 1.  Its purpose was to demonstrate the first set of problems, suggest methods and brainstorm explanations.  For material from that session and information about the 2010 Tournament go to  For general information about VYPT go to