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School Video Competition Celebrates Einstein

Tuesday 19 October 2004

Nationwide School Video Competition Celebrates Einstein

Following the success of the Transit of Venus video competition which drew 72 entries, the Royal Society of New Zealand is organizing another nationwide competition, again with substantial sponsorship from Freemasons New Zealand. This time, the theme is related to the international celebrations of Einstein’s achievements a century ago, including the Special Theory of Relativity, from which emerged the famous equation, e=mc².

The prizes are all-expenses paid trips in June 2005 for the two top teams (each comprising three students and a teacher): one to the UK, one to Europe. British Airways has again offered a very generous concession on airfares, and the British Council New Zealand will be providing financial support and assistance to the UK-bound group.

Topics are broad ranging and have been chosen to interest all students, not just those studying science subjects. See the list at end of this release. The history of science is the main focus of the competition.

Details of the competition have been posted to schools this week. Entries are due on 7 April, 2005, which gives students plenty of time to get to grips with their chosen topic. Those who decide to make a video on “the greatest human discoveries of all time” will need to give it some thought.

The new Grand Master of the Freemasons, Auckland businessman David Mace, said "The Transit of Venus competition was so inspiring and motivating, and teachers and students so keen to be given another challenge, that we had no hesitation in funding another competition. The Freemasons are committed to the community and the advancement of knowledge. Such competitions support both. Our members throughout the country will be actively encouraging their local schools to take part and taking a close interest in their work."

A video streaming website is being developed by e-net Ltd that will post information about the competition, help students and teachers with their research, provide resources on the history of physics, showcase New Zealand physics and physicists, and document the overseas experiences of the winning teams. This will be up and running from Term 1 in 2005. The website is funded by the government’s Science and Technology Promotion Fund.

The competition will be part of a whole year of celebrations for the 2005 International Year of Physics. The New Zealand science community is combining resources to put on a programme of international visitors, including some of our top ex-pat scientists.

Eminent New Zealand physicist, Professor Paul Callaghan, says "This is a chance for us to interest the public in areas they have always felt excluded from. Certainly, the study of physics can be challenging, but everyone can enjoy knowing some of the basic principles. To many, Einstein was a mysterious, almost god-like person, a sort of rare genius. But to physicists he was a marvelously creative thinker who greatly added to our understanding of nature. Since Einstein, science has branched out in all directions, so much so that most scientists can only hope to have real depth of knowledge in one small area. But we should all try to see the big picture and physics teaches us the basic rules governing the Universe, knowledge which is very satisfying to the human mind. We feel the power of e=mc² in the warmth of the sun, which, like every star, is converting matter to energy as it fuses hydrogen atoms together. It is the very source of life.”

See for more information about the competition from 26 October).

Video Competition Topics

Topic 1 The greatest human discoveries of all the time (in your opinion!)

Topic 2 The life, times and discoveries of one or more of the following. If you want to do more than one, make it clear what the linking theme is. You may concentrate on their discoveries if they interest you more. Conversely, you may wish to focus on their life and/or the way people of the time reacted to their discoveries. If you would like to include another scientist not on the list, you may do so, provided it fits with the overall theme, and that you discuss your choice with your teacher first.

Nicolaus Copernicus Johannes Kepler Galileo Galilei Sir Isaac Newton Robert Hooke Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) Marie and Pierre Curie Ernest Lord Rutherford Ernest Marsden Albert Einstein Max Planck Niels Bohr Beatrice Tinsley William Pickering Maurice Wilkins Alan MacDiarmid

Topic 3 Here’s one to extend Year 13 (and maybe Year 12) students. Explain one or more aspects of Einstein’s 1905 work, including the Special Theory of Relativity (you could focus on e=mc²), the photoelectric effect, and Brownian Motion.


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