Solutions and Winners (2008)

Solutions

Activity 1: If the cups are ranked from most Splenda to least Splenda, cup “D” should be ranked second. 

Activity 2: When the red lead is hooked to the top of the stiff wire, the compasses should move to look like picture 2.  However, many people’s stiff wires became magnetized in transit and even with the current flowing through the wire, the compasses looked like either picture 1 or picture 4.  With no technical problems such as that, picture 2 would be the correct answer.

Activity 3: This activity had by far the most technical difficulties.  If all the equipment worked correctly, then when the magnet was dropped north side first with the tube held vertically, then the red LED should have lit up.  However, more than one person had a malfunctioning red LED and would have seen nothing. 

Activity 4: The 2nd and 3rd set ups caused the pinwheel to spin counterclockwise when looking down from the top.

PhysicsQuest 2008 Winners Announced!

Congratulations to everyone who participated in PhysicsQuest 2008: Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair.  I hope everyone had a great time.

Grand Prize:

Jason Holstege’s 7th Grade Science 6th Hour
Heritage Christian School
Hudsonville, MI

Grand prize winning class will receive a class set of iPods, $500 gift certificate to Educational Innovations and assorted other physics toys.

Second Place:

Patricia Lanning’s St. Mary’s 8th Grade
St. Mary’s School
Greenville, SC

Second place class will receive a $300 gift certificate to Educational Innovations and assorted other physics toys.

Third Place:

Jerry Cross’s RDJA 8th Grade Period 2
McKinley Middle School
Albuquerque, NM

Third place class will receive a $100 gift certificate to Educational Innovations and assorted other physics toys.

Winner Selection

This year we chose the PhysicsQuest winning classes using a true random number generator.  Random number generators are often used in physics research.  There are two types of random number generators, pseudo random number generators and true random number generators.  If someone programs a computer to produce a random number, that number is not totally random because a human had to program the computer.  These are called pseudo (or false) random number generators.  They can be quite useful because they are quick and easy to put into other computer programs.

Then there are true random number generators.  This is the type we used to choose the winning classes.  True random number generators use some sort of random event such as radioactive decay to generate a random number.   One true random number generator even used the patterns from a lava lamp to generate its numbers.  To choose the PhysicsQuest winners the PhysicsCentral team used a random number generator that uses radio static to find random numbers.  To learn more about random numbers and random number generators, go to random.org or http://faculty.rhodes.edu/wetzel/random/intro.html