The University Physics Competition is an international contest for undergraduate students, who work in teams of three at their home colleges and universities all over the world, and spend a weekend in November, 48 hours, analyzing a real-world scenario using the principles of physics, and writing a formal paper describing their work.
The University Physics Competition takes place each year in November. All papers must be submitted via e-mail before the 48 hour time limit has elapsed.
Before the contest, all teams must be officially registered on this website by a faculty member, who will serve as their team adviser, verify that they are complying with contest rules, and pay the $35 USD team registration fee. All registrations must be submitted at least 24 hours before the contest begins.
At the start of the contest, each team selects one of two problems which appear on this website. Problems are written to be accessible to students who have had at least one year of university physics but are designed to be conceptually rich and open-ended in nature, so that they are still challenging to senior level students. The problems may contain incomplete information, so the students have to do background research and make some reasonable assumptions in order to proceed with the analysis. This means that there may not be one unambiguously correct method, but instead there may be many useful approaches and approximations.
During the contest, teams may use books, journals, computers, the Internet, programs that they write, or any other nonliving resources, but they may not consult with any people outside of their team. Teams must perform a theoretical analysis of the scenario presented using the principles of physics, and write a formal paper, in English, detailing their work. Each paper must begin with a 300 word summary, providing key details and results of the work performed. Each paper must include a list of references used, as well as make in-text citations to these resources.
At the end of the contest, all papers must be received via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org before the 48 hours have elapsed.
After the contest, all papers will be judged and ranked. The best approximately 2% of papers will be ranked as gold medal winners. The next 15 - 20% of papers will be ranked as silver medal winners. The next 25 - 30% of papers will be ranked as bronze medal winners, and 50 - 60% of papers will be ranked as accomplished competitors.
The University Physics Competition has received official sponsorship from both the American Physical Society and American Astronomical Society, which will be providing prizes for the gold medal winning teams.
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