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US Physics Olympiad Semi-Final

Date: TBA (window is Mar. 3 - Mar. 17)
Time: TBA
Location: UCSD Campus, room TBA


US Physics Olympiad Flier

US Physics Olympiad Brochure

SDMC has recently been authorized by the American Association of Physics Teachers as a higher education site for the US Physics Olympiad. This means that we will be authorized to administer the exam for any San Diego area students who do not have any other way to participate.

This second stage of the US Physics Olympiad sequence is the semi-final exam.  There is no quarter-final exam this year.  Students must qualify for this competition by obtaining a qualifying score on the F=ma exam in January.  The top 400 to 500 students on the F=ma exam will be invited to take the semi-final.

The semi-final is a free response exam and may require the use of derivatives or simple integration. The exam covers all topics in introductory physics: Mechanics, E&M, Thermodynamics and Fluids, Relativity, Nuclear and Atomic Physics, and Waves and Optics. Part A consists of 4 problems in 90 minutes. Part B consists of 2 problems in 90 minutes.

AAPT has just now announced the window within which this exam can be set as March 3 - 17, 2010. We have not yet chosen a date within this window as this requires coordination with UCSD regarding the reservation of adequate space. This would be an excellent time, therefore, to forward any information regarding important conflicts within this window. To the extent that we have flexibility to do so, we will try to avoid such conflicts. There is only one weekend within this window, so there is a strong likelihood that the exam would be set for either Saturday, March 13 or Sunday, March 14. Students should note that March 13 is an SAT day, and March 16 is the date of the AIME.

I have received some indirect inquiries from school teachers (through their SDMC students) regarding the possibility of directing their Physics Olympiad students to SDMC. Owing to the logistical challenge of servicing the needs of large numbers of students, we would ask that this be done only insofar as it makes the critical difference in making the Olympiad available to their students. I fully expect that we would be overwhelmed if the result of offering this community service would be the mere transfer of students from schools to SDMC.

The cost of the Physics Olympiad exams is greater than that of the corresponding AMC - AIME - USAMO sequence and is charged by AAPT on a per-student basis. The wide uncertainties in the numbers of students who may be participating, therefore translates into wide uncertainties in cost. Students should anticipate that we may need to pass some or all of the per-student cost ($6) on to the students if turnout is large.