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Mind Over Matter 2
Academic | Posted 21.06.2017

Physics Olympics

Last week, four Year II girls, along with Head of Physics, Mr Grainger, set off to St Peter’s School to compete in a Physics Olympics event. Sydney Elwers (Year II) tells us about their challenging day:

“Isobel Yorke, Allegra Riley-Smith, Eleanor Hutchinson and myself formed a team to take part in the Physics Olympics. When we arrived we got a quick briefing before we started our activities. First up was the tower building exercise ‘High Lights’. This was not one of our most successful activities but we still really enjoyed it. The aim was to build a tower as high as possible with limited materials before getting a light to flash three times and wiring it up without any clips. With this activity we tried our hardest but still have lots to learn.  

The second activity was ‘Solar So Good’. In this activity we were given a tray of items and a solar panelled motor and we had to build a boat powered by a fan. We had to make sure our boat would float as fast as it could down a length of gutter. Although our first attempt did not go too well our second attempt was a success and we got a really good time. This activity was one of our favourites and we had a lot of fun.

Solar So Good

Our third activity was ‘Mind Over Matter’ and for all of us that was the trickiest one. We had to work out the density of various objects (eg a rubber duck and a polystyrene cube) and arrange them in order. Although we struggled a bit we worked through it as a team.

Mind Over Matter

The fourth activity was called ‘Hippopotomass’. In this challenge we were given a toy hippopotamus and without using any measuring devices we had to work out its mass. This activity was less fun but required a team effort which kept us on our toes for the full thirty minutes. 


The last activity was ‘This Way and That’. For this activity we had to create a track which would enable a ball bearing to get to a tray in the longest amount of time. At first we struggled with the idea of making the longest possible run but once we got into it we managed to build quite a respectable track. Sadly though we lost ten seconds on our final time as we had pushed the ball bearing. We all really enjoyed this fun activity.

This Way and That

As well as the practical activities we also had a Fermi quiz, where we had to estimate things such as ‘what is the mass of air in a water bottle?’. The questions proved to be really tricky. Our time at the Physics Olympics was really productive and a lot of fun. We learnt a great deal even though we did not win. Mr Grainger thoroughly enjoyed his day as his team came second out of all the staff teams.”