NewVIc students win the British Physics Olympiads using a spoon

Dr. Eugenia Cheng

Two NewVic Students Gabriela Silva and Lorena Mhilli, both in their first year of A levels, participated in the National British Physics Olympiad’s Experimental Project and won commendations for their outstanding work.

With 50 entrants in the national competition; both students will now have the opportunity to enter the international contest. The British Physics Olympiad is based at the University of Oxford and is a charitable trust managed by five committee members, run by a large team of volunteer physics teachers and academics from across the country, they work to encourage the study of Physics and promote excellence in young physicists throughout the world through their five competitions:

  • Physics Challenge (GCSE)
  • AS Challenge
  • A2 Challenge
  • British Physics Olympiad
  • Experimental project

This year the Experimental project, set by BPHO, was titled the Rotational Motion of a Rattleback. Both students had to observe measure and determine the behaviour of the toy.  Faced with adversities Gabriela explained “We found out about competition ourselves and didn’t have long to complete, we did not have the correct instrument so had to make a rattleback with a spoon. The project was concerned with the rotational motion of a ‘boat-like objet, the rattleback, the clockwise and anticlockwise rotational motion, so at times it was difficult to record”.

Remarkably both students have been studying in the UK for under 8 months, Gabriela was born in the UK, but spent most of her life in Brazil and returned here 7 months ago to study Maths, but since doing this project said ‘’I thought I wanted to pursue a career in Maths, but since doing the project I am much more interested in physics now’’ 

Lorena said “I really enjoyed the project my passion is in Physics, however I would like to pursue a career in finance, I came here 7 months ago and I’m glad because of all these opportunities”

The girls’ research included experimental tables, graphs, recordings of all stages and an experimental report. Tony Dunn Physics A-level teacher, who supported them, said ‘the Olympiad is a very prestigious award, both Gabriela and Lorena worked independently, so we are very proud that our students have received this award.’’

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