High School Physics Experiment Competition 2013


Conduct physics experiments to investigate a physical phenomenon of your choosing and report your findings at the UNSW Student Experiment Symposium on November 15th 2013.

Note: this competition is now closed. We will be preparing for the 2014 experiment competition.


Winners will be awarded prizes by Professor Michelle Simmons, director of the Centre of Quantum Computation & Communication Technology. Prof. Simmons has won a number of awards, including two Federation Fellowships and NSW scientist of the year for 2011. She is the chair of the Australian Academy of Science's National Committee for Physics.

Suggested Experiments

  • Original Research, if you can think of a good question.

Or, experiments to answer an interesting question of your own choosing. The following list is just to suggest that there are many such questions:

  • Why is the sky blue? (model experiments would be fine)
  • Why are the front brakes on cars bigger than the rear brakes? (model experiments would be fine)
  • What gain can be achieved with a simple acoustic telescope?
  • How much has the visible face of the moon changed/moved since Galileo? (Your observations)
  • How does a plane (or a bird or a bee) fly? (model experiments fine in all cases)
  • How does rotating a magnet about various axes, including that of symmetry, affect its field and the Faraday emfs produced?


  • Choose an experiment that can be done within a month or so
  • Choose an experiment for which equipment is readily available
  • You may seek guidance from a suitable supervisor (e.g. teacher) for your experiment
  • Plan carefully and consider possible sources of error
  • Analyse carefully and, if possible, compare with theory
  • Choose an interesting physical phenomenon
  • Judges will value, among other things: thoughtful experimental design and analysis, careful measurements, interesting questions, novelty of approach.


Prof. Prof. Brian Schmidt presenting the winning team from Gosford High School in 2012.


Participation is open to students in years 7 to 11 enrolled in high schools across Australia.


Please register your interest here.

Paper Submission

You will need to submit a two-page report that includes an abstract, brief background, method, results and conclusions of the conducted physics experiment. Use the provided template and do not change layout or font sizes. Include tables and figures as necessary. Include a list of student participants (up to 5) in the project with their year and school. Acknowledge any significant help from outside sources. The proceedings of the 2012 Physics Competition can be downloaded via the link below.

Paper template can be downloaded here.

Paper Submission Date: October 15th, 2013. Submit paper entries to Shane Hengst with subject header: "2013 Student Experiment Competition".

Download: 2012 UNSW/AIP High School Student Symposium Physics Experiment Competition Proceedings (File: ~4mb PDF)

Prize money and procedures

  • Winners will be awarded prizes from Prof. Michelle Simmons
  • The authors of all accepted papers will be asked to make a poster (size A1).
  • A representative of the team producing paper, judged to be the best, will be invited to give a talk at UNSW either in person or via telepresence. The talk will precede the public lecture by Prof Michelle Simmons. (The team will receive prize money of $1000, plus a contribution to travel expenses of the representative, if coming from interstate or country NSW).
  • All accepted entries will feature in a UNSW poster session with the two best posters receiving $500 each.
  • All entrants will be invited to the talk, in person or by webcast, and to the poster sessions (at UNSW and on the Web).


  • Only a maximum of 5 students per project.
  • If you are selected for the oral presentation, only one representative of the team will talk.
  • The paper submission is limited to two-pages using the supplied template.
  • Open only to Year 7-11 students.
  • Final judging of prizes is by the judging panel, who reserve the right to refuse a submission and/or prize

Further information, please contact Shane Hengst.



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