MSMS Defies Gravity at the University of Alabama Physics Contest

Alden Wiygul, Staff Writer

Last Friday, Feb. 1, eleven MSMS physics students traveled to the Ferguson Center on the campus of the University of Alabama for their annual physics contest. Competing against 14 different schools, MSMS won second place overall with multiple individual winners.

This was the 43rd annual University of Alabama High School Physics Contest. Beyond the physics competitions, it also had a program for teachers, a career panel for students with speakers from industry, government and universities, a physics show, and informal opportunities to experience campus life.

I’m just glad it got organized and that MSMS went to this competition, because last year there was a scheduling conflict. I hope we made Dr. Vaughan proud. That’s all I wanted.”

— Victoria Gong

The two top contestants in the written exam could win four-year in-state tuition scholarships if they choose to go to the University of Alabama. Top individuals and team finishers were also awarded books, trophies, plaques and medals. All the students who did well in the competition were invited to apply to the E. Scott Barr scholarship program for those majoring in physics.

The contest itself was broken down into two different events. There was an individual test and a team ciphering competition. All the students got to participate in both of the events and learn even more as they watched the demonstrations.

“It was a very exciting time, and I got to attend a conference with a board of various people involved with physics, including people from the university and NASA. I had the opportunity to ask them questions about the physics field,”  junior David Heson said.

For the individual tests, two MSMS seniors placed: Connor Chitman, placing second, and Hamilton Wan, placing fifth. The questions covered all the topics most common in introductory physics classes.

The team ciphering competition consisted of tests with quick problem solving. It was set up like a relay race of physics. Teams consist of four students, but MSMS had three alternatives who made their own “fun run” team. This team scored higher than one of the MSMS teams competing. Even when the students did not personally win, they still contributed to the school’s overall success.

“I’m just glad it got organized and that MSMS went to this competition because last year there was a scheduling conflict. I hope we made Dr. Vaughan proud. That’s all I wanted,” said senior Victoria Gong.

Beyond the competitive events, all of the students’ favorite part of the day was when they were on the University of Alabama’s lawn. Despite Michelle Luo hurting her ankle, the team came together and bonded in their off moments.

“The best part of the day was certainly lying on the grass field, listening to Tchaikovsky while doing push-ups after the test,” said junior Dennis Lee.

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