Physics Olympiad brings scientific momentum to Schreiber

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Aryaman Sharma, Contributing Writer

Physics Olympiad is a new science club at Schreiber.  Its purpose is to promote physics to high school students, though it hopes to eventually reach middle and elementary school students, too.  The club also plans to offer extra help for those struggling in physics. 

“The club looks interesting, and I might consider joining since physics is a subject that appeals to me,” said freshman Terence Au.

Physics Olympiad meetings are held every Thursday at 7:30 a.m.  The club was founded by current presidents juniors Solomon Graf, Justin Li, and Rigel Mummers, and is advised by Mr. Anthony Bassante, who teaches Regents and General Physics.  Mr. Bassante is also available to answer any physics-related questions with which a student may be having trouble.  The club’s main focus is to build an understanding of mechanics, which includes kinematics, dynamics, energy, momentum, rotation, and celestial motion.  Physics Olympiad separates itself from other science clubs in that it zeroes in on a very specific subject.

“Physics Olympiad highly appeals to me considering that I am very much a STEM-oriented student and subjects within the sciences generally interest me.  Additionally, I have participated in the more general Science Olympiad club, and I have found the competitive structure very engaging and motivating, which is important for learning. I think that this club would be a very fruitful experience for those who are also specifically interested in physics and math and are eager to learn beyond the classroom. Because of this, I would definitely consider joining the club,” said senior Diana Benedicto-Jimenez.

Currently, Physics Olympiad is preparing for the F=MA exam, a 25-question multiple choice mechanics exam that is the first step in qualifying for the United States Physics Olympiad team.  The optional exam is on Feb. 15 and costs $10, though a fundraiser is being planned to pay for everyone who wishes to take it.  The deadline for registration is Jan. 21, and anyone interested in taking the exam is welcome to join at any time. 

For those unfamiliar with physics who worry about not being able to complete the exam, the club offers a fair variety of online resources.  Two websites that the club encourages using are Khan Academy (a great aid for those who prefer videos when learning) and Physics.info (which offers information on many topics).  A free PDF of the book Problems and Solutions in Introductory Mechanics by David Morin and a link to Jaan Kalda Notes are available on the Physics Olympiad Google Classroom, and more resources will be available as the exam approaches.

The top 300-400 scorers on the F=MA exam are invited to take the USA Physics Olympiad exam, the qualifying exam for the U.S. Physics Team.  The U.S. Physics Team then competes in the International Physics Olympiad Competition.

Participating in Physics Olympiad — and especially qualifying for the next round following the F=MA exam — can look good on transcripts, and it offers a chance to help out in town.  Opportunities in the community include middle school, elementary school, and library activities along with STEM Nights, volunteer hours, and becoming a Community Outreach Officer.  

“I definitely think Physics Olympiad is different from the other science clubs.  It gives kids who need extra help with physics a place to go outside of just communicating with their teachers.  Not to mention, there aren’t really other clubs related to a specific branch of science. There are no biology, chemistry, or astronomy clubs.  If people want to pursue a career in physics, I definitely think they should try joining the club and see if they like it,” said senior Silas Hokanson. 

Current open officer positions are two secretaries, two treasurers, a community outreach officer, and a social media manager.  Anyone interested in one of these positions should email [email protected] with their name, position, and a few sentences describing why they would make a good candidate.
Anyone interested in physics is welcome to join the club (with Google Classroom code ky2olyn).