Once more, clever pupils from all over Switzerland are invited to the pre-Christmas competition 'Physics in Advent'. Starting on December 1st, participants are asked to solve a simple physical task every day. Special prices for individual pupils as well as for whole school classes are provided. Indeed, teachers from Swiss schools are invited to participate in the competition with their class. One of the prizes is a class trip to CERN.
24 doors have to be opened - then it will be Christmas. Every child knows the Advent calendar and is looking forward to a sweet treat or other surprise, which shortens the time until Christmas. A unique Advent calendar can be found on the Internet () in December: This Advent calendar is mainly addressed to young people from the 5th to 10th grade, who still like sweets, and are also keen in puzzling over fascinating experiments and riddles from the world of physics.
Physics experiments by video
And that's the way it works: Starting on December 1st a daily video clip is provided on the website presenting a simple physical experiment. The experiment can be re-built at home either alone or together with friends and family, or at school in class. No sophisticated equipment will be required for these experiments. You do not need more then a couple of things you have at home anyway or that you may buy for little money in a shop near by. If you are interested, you may want to answer the questions from the video clip of the respective experiment on the website of 'Physics in Advent' and thereby participate in the competition at the same time.
In the competition numerous prizes can be won. The prerequisite is that participants register on the website () to create a personal account. The participant account provides an overview of the daily tasks and the correct solutions of the previous experiments. Registration is possible for individuals, groups, school classes or even for entire schools.
A visit to the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) in Meyrin near Geneva is one of the spectacular prizes for participating school classes. Another prize for school classes is a visit to the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen (AG). The PSI, is the largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences within Switzerland. At PSI world-class research in matter and material; energy and environment; and human health is conducted in fundamental and applied research. Or you may win a mesmerizing visit to the Swiss Science Center Technorama in Winterthur, where an interactive exhibit invites to touch, try, play and understand in a true feast for all senses. Further prizes to win are experimental physics lab kits, books, iPods and much more (see ).
More than 20'000 participants
'Physics in Advent' has been invented by the German university professor Arnulf Quadt, who also works at CERN as a particle physicist. 'Physics in Advent' was carried out for the first time in 2013. Ever since more and more people are infected by the physics fever. Last year, more than 21,000 pupils and over 800 teachers participated in the competition, most of them from Switzerland, Germany and Austria, but also from other countries. The event is supported by the Physical Societies of Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
The suggestions for the 24 experiments were partly made by people who had participated in 'Physics in Advent' in earlier years. The six-headed editorial team, who plans and carries out the event, has developed further experiments.
Author: Benedikt Vogel
Bahar Behzadi, physics teacher at the Freies Gymnasium Zürich, participated with her pupils in the last year's competition "Physics in Advent". The class performed excellently in the competition and was granted a visit to the Swiss Science Center Technorama in Winterthur. In the interview, the 44-year-old teacher reports on her experiences.Image: zVg