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Randolph to host international physics tournament for second year

This weekend, Randolph College will welcome to campus high school students and teachers from around the world, industry professionals, and other guests for the annual United States Invitational Young Physicists’ Tournament (USIYPT). This is the second time Randolph has hosted the tournament in the last three years.

The tournament begins Saturday, January 27 with rounds 1-5, and rounds 6-7 will take place Sunday morning, January 28. In these opening rounds, the competing teams will debate answers to open-ended physics questions, and responses will be judged by a panel of jurors. The winning teams will advance to playoff rounds on Sunday afternoon, and the champion will be announced at the closing ceremony at 4:30 p.m.

A member of the United States Association of Young Physicist Tournaments (USAYPT) Board, Randolph physics professor Peter Sheldon is the organizer for the 2018 competition and helped Randolph become the first college to host the event in 2016.

“We are pleased to once again be able to bring this international competition to the Randolph campus,” Sheldon said. “Fifteen high school teams from all over the U.S., Tunisia, and China will be competing in a debate-style science tournament, and over 30 professionals from industry and academia will be present as jurors for the rounds. Randolph College is grateful to be able to host this annual event and looks forward to exhibiting what the College and area has to offer.

“It really is a high-energy competition,” Sheldon added. “It involves solving high-level physics problems, but teams also have to have debate skills in order to convince the judges that they have the best solution to those problems.”

In addition to the head-to-head team matchups, John Eric Goff, a physics professor at Lynchburg College, will deliver the keynote address, “Great Physics from the Tour de France and World Cup,” Saturday at 4:15 p.m. For his presentation, Goff will discuss his research in predicting stage-winning times in the Tour de France and World Cup soccer ball aerodynamics.

Participating students will also compete in a poster competition Saturday, and will be offered tours of the Randolph campus during their stay.

Members of the College community are welcome to attend tournament events. For more information about USIYPT, visit



Saturday, January 27
– 9:15 a.m. – Opening Ceremony for all participants in the Hampson Commons (Student Center)
– 9:45 a.m. – Round 1 begins
– 10:45 a.m. – Round 2 begins
– Noon – Round 3 begins
– 2 p.m. – Round 4 begins
– 3 p.m. – Round 5 begins

– 4:15 p.m. – Keynote Address by John Eric Goff in Smith Hall Theatre

*** The seven rooms used for each of the first seven rounds will be Psychology 101; Thoresen 205, 206, 300; Klein Board Room, Nichols Theatre (both on the third floor of the Student Center).

Sunday, January 28

– 9 a.m. – Round 6 begins
– 10 a.m. – Round 7 begins
– 11:15 a.m. – Announcement of “playoff” teams and draw for playoff matrix in the Hampson Commons
– 11:30 a.m  – Playoff round 1 begins
– 1:15 p.m. – Playoff round 2 begins
– 1:15 p.m. – Swartz Poster Session begins in the Hampson Commons
– 2:30 p.m. – Playoff round 3 begins
– 3:30 p.m. – Playoff round 4 begins
– 4:30 p.m. – Closing ceremony in Smith Hall Theatre

*** The three rooms used for the playoff rounds are each located in Smith Hall: Alice Ashley Jack Room, the Ribble Lounge, and Smith Hall Theatre.

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