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Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament

For Students, For Judges

What do the students do

Vicphysics Teachers' Network 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 in Term 4, present and defend their findings in scientific discussions with other teams. They also critique the presentation of other teams.

The tournament will not be conducted in 2018.

Click for specific information about the 2017 Tournament and the 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 Tournaments.

Typical problems for investigation are:

  • 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 links 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.


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. Check each year above to see that year's topics.

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 2017

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Assessment criteria to be used by the judges for VYPT contests in 2017. There is a separate criteria sheet for each of the roles of Report and Critique.


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.

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What do the judges do

To get an idea of what the students do, it is useful to briefly read through the information above.

Each team will compete in six contests, three to present and three to critique.

Each contest will be judged by a panel of 2 or 3 people, which will include at least one teacher who has judged before. At the end of the contest, the judges are encouraged to ask questions of both teams before each deciding on their scores.

Each contest lasts about 30 minutes. There are specified time limits for different sections within the 30 minutes to ensure comparable judging.

The six contests proceed through the day starting about 9:30am and finishing about 3:30pm. New judges will have a chance to observe a contest before being scheduled to judge. Most new judges are likely to judge about three contests. All judges will have at least one context off.

ExpectationsJudges are not expected to be experts in the topics the students have investigated. The emphasis is on their use of experimental methods. However it is useful if the judges have thought about each of the topics prior to the day, deciding what might be relevant independent variables and how they might go about designing an investigation.

A look through the assessment criteria is also useful.

To get a sense of the phases of a context and the usual standard, please check out the videos above.

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