2019 Western Kentucky Physics Olympics - Saturday, February 23

The WKU Department of Physics & Astronomy is attracting participants to the Western Kentucky Physics Olympics on Saturday, 23 February 2019. Teams of four high school students are invited to compete in this half-day competition consisting of a pentathlon of challenging problem-solving activities that reward teamwork, communication and creativity.

The 2019 Physics Olympics competition will commence with two activities that involve competitors arriving at the event ready to compete with devices they have designed, constructed, and tested. The Siege Engine event requires teams to design, construct, and text a trebuchet that can accurately destroy the enemy targets without harming the neutral structures. The Gravity Vehicle event requires teams to design, construct, and test a vehicle powered only by gravitational potential energy, with the goal of stopping their vehicle as close as possible to a target spot. The "Calculation / Communication Challenge" will require each team to divide into pairs, with each pair creating a statistical rule that their partners can solve, but that will not be understandable to the opponents. The "Impromptu Team Activity" and "Order-of-Magnitude Quiz" will remain cloaked in secrecy until the day of the event.

Online pre-registration is required. Teams must register online before 4pm, Thursday, February 21st.


A $600 scholarship to attend Western Kentucky University will be presented to each contestant on the top scoring team. The scholarship is to be used during the freshman year and is awarded above and beyond any other scholarships the student might otherwise earn. Medals for the team members and a plaque for the school will be awarded to the top 3 teams in the overall competition. Certificates will be awarded to the top three teams in each event.

Schedule of Events

Time Activity Location
8:00 Register Teams and impound devices Snell 1108
8:30 Gravity Vehicle Snell 1108
9:45 Siege Engine Snell 1108
11:00 Order of Magnitude Quiz Snell 1108
11:20 Lunch Hardin Planetarium
Noon Communication-Calculation Challenge Snell 1108
12:45 Impromptu Team Activity Snell 1108
1:30 Awards Ceremony Snell 1108

Event Descriptions and Rules

Please see the Events Description page for a complete listing of the official rules for each event.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions about please check our Frequently Asked Questions list or email your question to Richard Gelderman.