High school students compete in 40th annual Physics Olympics

Date/Time: Saturday, March 10, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Event details: More than 400 high school students and teachers from across B.C. will compete in the 40th annual UBC Physics Olympics, where they will show off unique creations.

The event is one of the largest and oldest high school physics competitions of its kind in North America, organized by students and professors in the department of physics and astronomy and department of curriculum and pedagogy. UBC undergraduate students, many of them former competitors, volunteer their time.

Teams compete in six events that test hands-on and scientific concepts. The goal is to help students see how physics is exciting and relevant to our daily lives, and to provide students with an opportunity to work together.

Event website: physoly.phas.ubc.ca

Photo/assignment editors: Teams have built ballpoint pen spinning tops and vinegar-baking soda powered ballistics for this year’s Physics Olympics. These creations will be tested as part of Saturday’s event.  Teams will also compete in “Quizzics,” a quiz-show run by astronomy professor Jaymie Matthews dressed in a sorcerer’s robe and regalia.


Ballpoint pen spinning top
Hennings, Room 202
6224 Agricultural Road
Map and parking: http://www.maps.ubc.ca/?652 

Vinegar and baking soda-powered ballistics
UBC Life Building (Old SUB) Room 2201
6138 Student Union Boulevard
Map and parking: http://www.maps.ubc.ca/?790 

Hennings, Room 201
6224 Agricultural Road
Map and parking: http://www.maps.ubc.ca/?652

Final Quizzics at 3:30 p.m.

Woodward Theatre 2, 2194 Health Sciences Mall
Map and parking: http://www.maps.ubc.ca/?473

Start times for all competitions listed above: 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:55 a.m., 12:40 p.m., 1:35 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. (final Quizzics). Awards at 4:20 p.m.


  • High school students and teachers
  • Aaron Boley, co-chair and professor of UBC Physics Olympics and professor of physics and astronomy, judge for ballpoint pen spinning top event. acboley@physics.ubc.ca, 604-827-2641
  • Mike Hasinoff, co-chair and professor of UBC physics and astronomy. hasinoff@physics.ubc.ca; 604-822-2360
  • Marina Milner-Bolotin, lead organizer of UBC Physics Olympics and professor of curriculum and pedagogy. milner-bolotin@ubc.ca; 604-417-4035