Olympiad: The Beginning

The All-Siberia Physics Olympiad in the Summer School is what the physics begins from. There I have seen my future pupils for the first time. There the kids faced physics problems for the first time in the School.

The Olympiad is important for children. If someone gets a prize-winning place, not only he or she can brag about it, but also this person automatically has a greater chance to get into Physics and Mathematics School ("Winter School"). And even they can have a discount for the first semester.

Please let me make a little lyrical digression in order to make you understand the basics. The Winter School is assumed to be the primary target for Summer Schoolchildren, the main mission to accomplish. And we, teachers of the Summer School, struggle to train the Summer Schoolchildren, so that the best of them would have the best final results and would stay here for the Winter School.

Well, back to the Olympiad. The solutions from children are checked by the Winter School teachers, the professionals of physics olympiads. Only a few of the Summer School teachers, the most experienced, are involved in checking to help the experts with the great amount of work. I'm not experienced at all, so my help was required only during the holding of the Olympiad. With four other physics teachers I was responsible for keeping order in the Budker Lecture Hall of Novosibirsk State University, one of the rooms where the Olympiad took place.

The first task for us was to make the kids sit in the correct order. 8-grade, 9-grade and 10-grade schoolkids write the Olympiad together. And we tried to place them so that same-grade students didn't sit together — not as easy as it sounds. The other task was to answer the questions they ask about the problem definition. And not to answer questions about the solution, of course — they were asked more often than I expected. Finally, the main task for us was to control the kids so that they don't communicate and don't copy the solutions. We did this, but we were not standing at their shoulders: I think it would be excessive stress.

A few words about the problems. I felt very lazy during the Olympiad, so I didn't try to solve them all, although I had enough time. I spend most time reading Twitter, chatting with colleagues (IRL, I mean) and walking around the lecture hall. But near the end of the event I tried to solve the problems for schoolkids of 10th grade (I'm a teacher of 10th grade in the Summer School). They were rather easy, except the last one. It was about the ball jumping on a vertical spring. The spring is fixed on the floor. I made two mistakes at once, incorrectly determined both the moment of highest speed and the moment of loss of contact. Shame on me! But before the first lesson, the next day, I was better prepared. Interesting that no one of my future pupils solved this last problem correctly. But the person that took the first place in the Olympiad got 49 points out of 50, so he did this, I suppose.

To sum up, taking part in the holding of the Olympiad was interesting and not difficult. Even more, it was fun thanks to sociable colleagues and some extraordinary (and not disciplined) kids who amused us all along the way.

— written on August 14, 2011

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