Physics and Astronomy

Objective To measure as accurately as possible a given quantity in SI units.
Participants Teams of up to six.

Supplied by the Judges: Common laboratory equipment as may be required.

Supplied by each team: 3 metre sticks., 3 - 30 cm rulers, a trundle wheel or a 30 m tape measure are optional.
A Hypsometer, constructed by the team before coming to the competition.


Each team will, in a coordinated way (optional), take those measurements required to answer a question such as:

a) how many pop cans will fit in the space available in the gymnasium?
b) how many jelly beans will fit in the container provided?
c) what mass of smarties will occupy the principal's office?
d) how much would it cost to fill the gymnasium with marshmallows?


Team Score = Team Scoring formula

Estimates that are too high or too low by a factor of 2 for example will both get a score of 90


Hyp'someter - 1. instrument for measuring altitudes by determining the boiling point of water at a given altitude. 2. any instrument used to calculate the height of trees. [hypso - from Greek, indicating height; also cf. hypsometry, in mapping; hypsography, in scientific study of earth's topography above sea level.] {Ref. Collins English Dictionary}

In preparation for the Science Olympics' Metric Madness event, you can make and test a hypsometer to simplify the to-be-assigned task of measuring the height of a building. The following gives instructions based on "The Honour Roll of Ontario Trees, 1990", published by the Ontario Forestry Association.

Cut out a piece of heavy cardboard, 27.5 cm x 30.0 cm and draw in the scales as illustrated in Figure 1. Affix 40 cm of thread through a hole positioned 5 cm from the right hand margin and 2.5 cm from the top] (point A), and weight it with a small nail.



Referring to Figure 2, position yourself 50 metres horizontal distance from the base of the tree so that you can see the top and base of the trunk. Holding the hypsometer against your face, with the sight line at your eye, look along the sight line to the top of the tree. With your forefinger and thumb press the thread to hold it in place and read the height from the scale. If you are working with a partner they can take the readings directly. In the illustration, the reading is 30 m on the scale when positioned 50 m from the tree. Add the distance of your eye from the ground to get the height of the tree. This assumes that you are at the same level as the base of the tree.

Make and practice using this tool before you come to the Science Olympics. Use it to measure the height of some objects whose height can be measured with a tape measure, and use this to calibrate your instrument as accurately as you can. You may be able to think of some improvements.

Source London District Science Olympics.

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