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Burnside Young Physicists
Photo by John Watson

NZ Young Physicists' Tournament

Mr J Watson —

After winning the regional tournament, our Year 13 Burnside team competed in the national tournament.

Over the past month, we (Nick Peters, Abby Field, Ryan Worsley) prepared for, and competed in, the annual New Zealand Young Physicists Tournament. When we first heard about the competition, we had no idea what it entailed, or even what we would be getting ourselves into. So, naturally, we entered.

Our job was to investigate lots of different physics phenomena, such as the 'Water Bottle Flip', the 'Dancing Coin' and the 'Heron’s Fountain', and prepare debate style seminars explaining the phenomenon. We then would present them in front of an opposing team, and a jury of engineers and science professors, who both would then attempt pick our proposals to pieces. Then, we would have an opportunity to challenge another team from a different school, and try to oppose theirs. This was incredibly terrifying, but we improved over the course of the competition.

With help from the Burnside Physics Department, and an incredibly helpful ex-Burnside dux - recent engineering graduate (Ding-Chen Luo, our hero) -  we managed to actually win the Canterbury Regional Competition, and go to the New Zealand Nationals, where we placed second in our pool! The three of us are so glad we participated in the tournament, as we were challenged in so many different ways, and all of us were pushed out of our comfort zones. We learnt lots of new physics and mathematics ideas that we wouldn’t have known otherwise, such as fluid dynamics and thermodynamic cooling, and improved our understanding of a range of others. It also allowed us the opportunity to experience a realistic approach to scientific investigations at a depth beyond what we had done in school. It was a cool experience and we wish the next Burnside teams the best of luck!

The problems for next year's tournament will be published later in the year; students should contact Mr Watson to find out more or to register interest for the 2019 tournament.