Excellent teamwork at the Physics Olympics

Four Pocklington School pupils stand in front of orange banner showing pictures of pupils engaged in science and the white writing Physics Olympics

Photo L-R: The Second Year Physics Olympics team - Louisa Chacksfield, Pippa Byron, Tom McDowell and Aleck Brown

Second Year Physicists competed against more than 100 pupils from across the north of England in a Physics Olympics designed to test their talent and teamwork skills.

The four students - Louisa Chacksfield; Pippa Byron; Tom McDowell and Aleck Brown - were selected to represent Pocklington School on the basis of their excellent science scores throughout the year. 

They travelled to St Peter’s School in York, along with pupils from 28 other state and independent schools, for a day of puzzles and thought-provoking tasks testing scientific skills including accuracy of measurement, estimations, investigation ability and teamwork.

Challenges included designing a crumple zone for a car and constructing a tower to support as much weight as possible. Pupils also took part in the Fermi quiz which poses estimation questions like: ‘How many blades of grass are there on a cricket pitch?’.

Pocklington School Physics teacher Phil Anstee said: “This was the 13th annual Physics Olympics and every year the events really challenge some of our gifted and talented students. The activities are time restricted and our team worked well together, delegated tasks and obtained results in every challenge. These are the kind of skills that all future employers are looking for in young people.” 

The team made a slow start but got into their stride in time to win the final challenge, which involved designing a car out of a variety of materials to jump the greatest distance.

Another excellent display in the Fermi quiz meant they were very close at the end, and narrowly pipped to 4th place out of the 29 schools. The team also correctly estimated the bonus prize of the number of smarties in the jar as 396, all of which were eaten in the minibus home!

The Pocklington School Physics Olympics team designing and making a model carSome quotes from the school team:

"It was fun and challenging, I really enjoyed it" Louisa Chacksfield

"We worked well as a team. You needed to get a good measurement in early during the task then build on it. We were improving all the time." Pippa Byron

"At first we didn't work very well as a team but we got better each round. Firing the car off the ramp was my favourite challenge." Tom McDowell

"We figured out pretty quickly that the heavier the car was, the more speed it would have and the further it would go. We really enjoyed building it and winning." Aleck Brown

“A fantastic performance from some very able and enthusiastic young scientists.” Mr Anstee