Student-Physicists from Octorara, Phoenixville, Coatesville to Compete in Singapore

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From left: Octorara High School's Emily Solomon, Anna Cassidy, and Nicole Mowrey.

CCIUCan you suggest non-invasive methods to detect the degree to which a hen’s egg is cooked by boiling?

Or build a “vacuum bazooka” with a simple plastic pipe, a light projectile, and a vacuum cleaner?

No, you don’t have to be MacGyver to figure it out, but you do have to be a whiz at physics like Anna Cassidy and Emily Solomon from Octorara High School, Conor Robert McQuiston from Phoenixville High School, and Matthew Poppellwell from Coatesville High School.

Their ability to solve problems like these has landed them a spot on the U.S. team that will compete in the International Young Physicists’ Tournament (IYPT).

On April 1, three Chester County high school teams competed against teams from across America to solve these challenges and more at the United States IYPT Selection Competition, hosted by the Chester County Intermediate Unit.


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In total, five students and one alternate – four of whom are from Chester County – were selected to represent the United States at the 2017 IYPT in Singapore this summer, from July 5-12.

Cassidy, Solomon, and McQuiston earned spots on the team, and Poppellwell will go as an alternate.

“IYPT is a team-oriented, international competition between secondary school students,” said Gerard Jennings, a teacher at Phoenixville High School and co-founder of the United States selection competition. “The competition is a transformational student experience, providing students with the opportunity to represent the United States and compete on an international stage.

“These students get to say that they represented the U.S. and helped build something that could legitimately revolutionize and reinvigorate physics in this country. We’re really behind other countries in physics, and this could help change that. It’s a way to give students learning opportunities, but also to build better teachers.”

The four students from Chester County will be joined on the U.S. team by Seojin (Skylar) Jung from Torrey Pines High School in California and Japnidh Thakral from Dougherty Valley High School in California.

The annual IYPT Tournament, also known as the “Physics World Cup,” began in 1988 and is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious international physics contests, boasting teams from nations and regions around the world. A cross between a thesis defense and the Olympics, the IYPT engages teams in debates about their solutions to experiment-based research problems.

This year, 32 teams will compete, including teams from New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, Russia, and Brazil.

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