Students Compete to Show Off Their Skills in Physics Olympics

Students from all around Pennsylvania are invited to the college of IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) to compete in physics related competitions.
Braden Brown and Zane Woodling tweak the catapult before letting it fly.
Braden Brown and Zane Woodling tweak the catapult before letting it fly.
Image/Graphics by Craig Fluck

On March 15th, Mr. Chimenti’s physics class at West Branch High School attended the Physics Olympics held at IUP. However, they were not the only school in attendance. Some other schools that attended were Clearfield, Conemaugh Township, Conemaugh Valley, Franklin Regional, Indiana, Jeannette, Leechburg, Moshannon Valley, Penn Trafford, Portage Area, and Purchase Line. Each of these schools was split up into sub-groups named after Physics-related words. West Branch was split up into 3 groups. The first group was team Poise which consisted of Isaac Tiracorda, Luke Liptak, and Craig Fluck. The second Group was team Gray who consisted of Jacob Alexander, Noah Emigh, and Zane Woodling. The last group was Team Milliliter which consisted of Marley Croyle, Katrina Cowder, and Braden Brown.  

Amongst the three teams from West Branch, a couple of accomplishments were achieved. Team Gray showed off their egg drop contraption and got first place. The apparatus was built out of straws, napkins, tape, and half of a plastic bag. This led them to be able to drop their egg 2 meters before breaking. According to Noah Emigh, he thinks he could outsmart YouTube’s genius Mark Rober with the quote “Mark Rober who?” However, that’s not it. Team Poise managed to place second overall in the Aluminum boat. With Isaac’s creative mind, he had the ability to create a great aluminum boat. Craig and Luke both gave him tips, and the three were able to create a boat that held 450 grams of weight. 

Between each competition, a team must have had a catapult ready that was built prior to the Physics Olympics. The stipulations for this catapult were that it had to be made out of anything but metallic objects and also had to have a trigger of some sort. Braden Brown was the main constructor of West Branch’s catapult. According to Braden, when asked by some of his classmates, he stated that this was very challenging. “It sucked,” he said.  The reason for the poorly performing catapult was because of the exit position and velocity it had. The ping pong ball was shot straight more than an arc which made the accuracy drop dramatically. 

Going through all of these triumphs, West Branch still did well overall. The placings showed that team Gray placed 12th and team Millileter and Poise tied for 26th. All in all, this was a great trip for all of the students to experience all sorts of challenges and also learn.

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