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Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament

What do the students do

Vicphysics Teachers' Network has established a competition for Year 10 Science and Year 11 physics students. In the course of the year, in teams of three, students will carry out three experimental investigations, then later in the year on the first week in December, present and defend their findings in scientific discussions with other teams.

Click for specific information about the 2016 Tournament and about the the 2015 Tournament, the 2014 Tournament, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 Tournaments including results.

Typical problems for investigation are:

  • Popping body A body is submerged in water. After release it will pop out of the water. How does the height of the pop above the water surface depend on the initial conditions (depth and other parameters)?
  • Steel balls Colliding Two large steel balls with a thin sheet of material (e.g. paper) in between may “burn” a hole in the sheet. Investigate this effect for various materials.
  • Magnetic spring Two magnets are arranged on top of each other such that one of them is fixed and the other one can move vertically. Investigate oscillations of the magnet.
  • Kelvin water dropper: Construct a Kelvin water dropper. Measure the highest voltage it can produce. Investigate its dependence on relevant parameters.
  • Liquid light guide A transparent vessel is filled with a liquid (e.g. water). A jet flows out of the vessel. A light source is placed so that a horizontal beam enters the liquid jet (see picture). Under what conditions does the jet operate like a light guide?
  • Electromagnetic cannon A solenoid can be used to fire a small ball. A capacitor is used to energise the solenoid coil. Build a device with a capacitor charged to a maximum 50V. Investigate the relevant parameters and maximise the speed of the ball.

Videos of the Tournament

At the 2014 Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament, Terry Tan from John Monash Science School videoed the competition as did some of the other teachers. Terry has edited the footage into two packages, i) a short one using extracts from different contests to show the key features of a contest and ii) a longer one of one complete contest. See lnks below.

The Vicphysics Committee appreciates the tremendous amount of work by Terry in chasing up school approvals and then editing the material into these packages.

Aims of the Tournament

This event is designed to encourage research skills, team work and communication skills. It is modelled on the Australian Young Physicists’ Tournament (AYPT), which is held in Brisbane in March each year and the International Young Physicists' Tournament, which is held later at the mid year. Check the AYPT website for a link to IYPT.

Release of Problems

In 2010 and 2011, there were seven problems in the common set from which teams investigated five. For 2012 there were four problems in the common set, from which teams should investigate three. Since then there has been no choice, only three topics are listed.

Organisation of a Tournament




Microsoft Word

Regulations of the Physics Tournament

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The regulations include sections on team membership and supervision, the jury, description of team roles in a 'Physics Phyte', and the sequence of a stage in a 'Physics Phyte'.

Microsoft Powerpoint

Tournament PowerPoint

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The Powerpoint from the workshop at the 2014 Physics Teachers Conference.

Microsoft Word

Judging criteria used up to 2015

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Assessment criteria to be used by the judges for VYPT contests from the beginning until 2015. There is a separate criteria sheet for each of the roles of Reporter, and Opponent.

Microsoft Word

Judging criteria for 2016

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Assessment criteria to be used by the judges for VYPT contests in 2016. There is a separate criteria sheet for each of the roles of Reporter and Opponent for each of the three types of topics.


If schools are likely to be involved, they should send an expression of interest early in the school year, as there are likely to be support events for interested teachers and students alike during the year. Official entries will be due early in Term 4. Click here for details.

Teachers that are thinking of entering teams the following year are welcome to attend the tournament.