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Xtreme Pendulum to Be Featured at Annual Physics Olympics

Xtreme Pendulum to Be Featured at Annual Physics Olympics

Posted: November 19, 2014
Updated: November 20, 2014

Young scientists will have a chance to compete with each other in timed creative events involving math and physics Saturday, December 6,* at Buffalo State. The 11th annual Physics Olympics will take place Saturday at 8:45 a.m. in the Science Building and atrium of the new Science and Mathematics Complex. This year’s competition will be hosted by the Western New York Physics Teachers Alliance (WNYPTA), the Physics Department, and the New York State Master Teacher Program at Buffalo State. The event’s purpose is to encourage middle- and high-school students to continue their study of science.

"Many young students really love physics, and they enjoy thinking about interesting physics and engineering solutions," said David Henry, associate professor of elementary education and reading. "However, these students can feel isolated in their schools. This event lets them see that many of their peers share their interest."

Henry, a former high school physics teacher and an expert in how to teach science, co-directs the Mathematics and Science Master Teacher program at Buffalo State. He is also co-director of WNYPTA.

About 200 middle- and high-school students in 50 teams will compete in three different timed activities: building a straw bookstand, a laser-shooting contest, and the Xtreme Pendulum of Death. Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams in each event. The students will represent schools including Canisius High School, the Kenmore-Tonawanda School District, University Prep of Rochester, Oakfield-Alabama Central Schools, Lakeshore Central, and Williamsville Central.

Often, middle schools and high schools have only one physics teacher. WNYPTA provides an opportunity for those teachers to meet and share challenges and solutions. Buffalo State’s physics programs include a well-regarded physics education program, and its faculty can provide expert professional development to high school physics teachers.

Following the events, which will conclude at 11:55 a.m., students will participate in a physics demonstration fair. At 12:45 p.m., the winning teams will be announced.

*The Physics Olympics, originally scheduled for Saturday, November 22, has been rescheduled to Saturday, December 6, due to weather.

Video and graphics: Michael Belling, physics teacher at Williamsville East and Master Teacher
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