November 28, 2015 Filed in: Articles

Recently, a teacher asked me for advice about how to start running the OAPT physics contest. I asked some teachers to help me answer this question. As well as finding great advice for getting students to write the contest, I also learnt about other contests and how teachers were incorporating past OAPT contest questions into their course all year long.

I would like to thank all the teachers who responded to my request for information: Deryk Jackson (Danforth CTI), Sandy Evans (Northview Heights SS), Gabrielle Kauffman (Bishop Allen Academy), Elzbieta Muir (Albert Campbell CI), Susan Hewitt (Lisgar CI), Martin Furtado (St. Ignatius High School), Eva Muresan (Mentor College), Gavin Kanowitz (AY Jackson SS) and Luciano Pattara (Martingrove CI).

Many teachers also run the Waterloo SIN Exam but they warned that it has become harder every year and may only be appropriate for a few grade 12 students.

One teacher also suggested the CAP Contest and said that it was very challenging and followed the grade 12 IB curriculum and also the AAPT Physics Bowl for grade 11 and 12 saying that it was similar to OAPT but more time pressured.

As one example, consider mass and weight. Your grade 11 students have spent the first 15 years of their lives treating mass and weight as synonymous. In order to see why we need two different concepts, you can show videos of the astronauts on the Moon and discuss what is the same and what is different. Then you can use questions from the OAPT Contest Question Bank: Forces Unit. Here are two examples:

Suppose that a hole were drilled to the centre of a uniform solid spherical planet. A stone is dropped into the hole. When the stone is at the planet’s centre, compared with its values at the surface, you might expect that the stone’s

A) mass and weight are both unchanged.

B) mass and weight are both zero.

C) mass is unchanged and its weight is zero.

D) mass is zero and its weight is unchanged.

E) weight cannot be determine anywhere with this information.

Answer: C

A bowling ball is tied to a rope such that the rope lifts the ball straight up at a constant velocity. The magnitude of the tension in the rope is

A) greater than the force of gravity on the ball.

B) equal to the net force acting on the ball.

C) less than the force of gravity on the ball.

D) equal to the mass of the ball times its acceleration.

E) equal to the force of gravity on the ball.

Answer: E

As well as using the questions as they are, you can make modifications to the questions because they are provided in Word format. Consider the following question:

A 2.0 kg block of wood is dragged across a rough level floor at a constant velocity of 3.0 m/s by a horizontally applied force of 10 N. Compare the magnitudes of

￼A)

B)

C)

D)

E)

Answer: C

After doing this question as is, you could explore mass and weight by asking the students what will change if this block is pulled with the same applied force on the Moon. You could make this an open, whiteboard discussion or you could make some new concept questions from it. Here are a couple of possibilities:

Which forces will be changed to 1/6

A) Weight

B) Normal

C) Friction

D) Weight and normal

E) Weight, normal and friction

Answer: E

What will the acceleration of the block be?

A) 0 m/s

B) 1/6

C) 5/6

D)

E) 5

Answer: C