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Teams of middle school and high school students from Hampton Roads will square off Saturday in the brain-teasing competitions of the 17th annual Tidewater Physics Olympics Saturday, March 19, at Ocean Lakes High School.

The competition will run from 9 a.m. to noon at Ocean Lakes, which is at 855 Schumann Drive in Virginia Beach. Check-in is at 8:30 in the main foyer.

How slowly can a teenager ride a bicycle, without stopping, over a prescribed course? How high can a tower be built with 20 gumdrops and 30 pieces of spaghetti? These are challenges that have been met in the past by the contestants in the light-hearted competition.

Last year, about 35 teams of four or five students each competed in six events. The winner in the middle school division was a team from Ghent Montessori School and the high school division was won by a team from Maury High.

The event is organized by the Tidewater Teachers of Physics Society (TOPS) and sponsored by TOPS, Ocean Lakes High School and Busch Gardens.

Larry Weinstein, ODU professor of physics, said the events are designed to be fun, active, include some knowledge of science and require group participation. Past events, other than slow bike riding and tower building, have included estimating how fast human hair grows, estimating the volume of water in Lake Trashmore, and target shooting with a laser.

Saturday's competition will comprise six events, each lasting 20 minutes. No prior preparation or construction is required of teams. Winning teams will win prizes, including tickets to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

A small entry fee is required for each team. More information can be obtained by contacting David Wright at 822-7307 or tcwrigd@tcc.edu or Weinstein at 683-5803 or weinstei@physics.odu.edu.

This article was posted on: March 15, 2005

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