APS News: Keen Minds Prep for the International Physics Olympiad

By itself, a flexible, plastic “Hot Wheels” toy car track is pretty mundane. Add a can of racket balls and a team of the top high-school physics students in the country, and you have the makings of an intriguing science experiment.

Each year, the American Association of Physics Teachers and a number of member societies of the American Institute of Physics sponsor a two-week competitive training camp held on the University of Maryland campus at the end of May. The purpose is to select five high school students, from a pool of about 20, who will represent the US in the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) annual competition. This year, the Olympiad will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan from July 13-21.

It’s essentially physics boot camp, but instead of climbing walls and jumping hurdles, the students take on obstacle courses that challenge their intellectual capacities. Each day, students attend lectures covering topics like optics and special relativity, take written exams, and conduct laboratory experiments.

Read more at APS News online.