Sunday, January 31, 2016

Physics Team Championship in 2016!

      McGill-Toolen Catholic High School took part in the 40th annual University of Alabama High School Physics Competition at the Ferguson Student Center on Friday January 29, 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  The competition had more than 22 public, private and magnet schools registered, 34 teams posted and more than 307 registered physics students (mostly seniors) from schools in Mississippi and Alabama vying for trophies, awards, medals and scholarships.  This high stakes Physics competition is the oldest, longest running and most prestigious Physics competition in the region and annually attracts the highest quality science programs and the best students in the southeast region of the United States.  
     The Jackets won 1st in the Private School Division and also 2nd Place in the Private School Division with an all female C-Team.  The McGill-Toolen A-Team when into an overtime "Blitz" to take 1st Place Overall Teams in all divisions (Public, Private and Math Science Magnet Schools.)  The all female McGill-Toolen C-Team won 2nd Place in the Private School Division and 3rd Place among all teams in all divisions.  Finally McGill-Toolen Catholic High School was designated (based on team and individual scores) as 1st Place among all schools in all division.  This is the third time in four years that McGill-Toolen has placed 1st over all schools and among all teams in all divisions of this multi-state competition!
     McGill-Toolen Catholic High School became part of a new history at the competition this year in 3 different ways.  No team had ever obtained a perfect score in the 40 years of the competition.  This year McGill-Toolen AND Straughn High School earned the highest possible scores by answering every question correctly in 40 seconds or less over 16 rounds.  The McGill-Toolen C-Team, composed of all females, missed only 1 question and won 3rd place over all schools in all divisions.  Finally in the first ever "overtime", to determine the overall winner of the competition, McGill-Toolen and Straughn High School were pitted in a head to head "Blitz" of 4 questions with each team member required to answer one question each.  McGill-Toolen won by answering all questions correctly in the minimum 40 seconds.
      The McGill-Toolen Physics Team attained a rare "four-peat championship" by taking 1st Place in the Private School Division.   The A-Team and C-Team won 1st Place AND 2nd Place in a division which typically has the highest average scores of all divisions.  McGill-Toolen also won 1st Place AND 3rd place over all schools in all divisions (Public, Private and Magnet Schools).  The McGill-Toolen Physics Team had eight competitors with perfect team rounds!
        On Thursday (January 28) three teams of competitors from McGill-Toolen departed McGill-Toolen and stayed the evening in Tuscaloosa.   That evening they attended a talk on nano-materials and went to the observatory to view Orion's nebula.  The next day (Friday January 29) began with a mass at Holy Spirit Parish in Tuscaloosa at 6:45 AM.  At the close of the mass Fr. Jeremiah Deasy (the celebrant) recognized the team.  An hour later in the Ferguson Center grueling individual physics tests were taken by the competitors for over an hour.  Then there was a "Team Cipher" competition in which teams have representatives answering physics questions in a time pressured format in public view with results posted on large screens for viewing as the problems were solved.  The "Ciphering" lasted until 11:44 AM.  Then an overtime "Blitz" session pitted the McGill-Toolen A-Team against Straughn High School to determine the overall winner.
     A seminar (with physicists who are employed), physics show and awards ceremony followed that afternoon in The Ferguson Center Auditorium.
     The McGill-Toolen Physics Team consisted veteran competitors Chris McDonald (senior), Connor Kusch (senior), Patrick Spafford (sophomore), Peter McDonald (sophomore) and Claire Powers (junior).  Rookie competitors included Marvin Johnson (senior) and freshman Findaly Maier, Bekah Burgess,  Alayna Mickles Caroline Zitnik and Joseph Keegan.  The team escorts included Mr. Tom Mcdonald, Caroline McDonald, Mrs. Theresa Burgess and the Phsyics Team moderator Dr. Tim Burgess

Team Performance and Honors
     Teams are placed in divisions of public schools, private schools and science-math magnet schools. All divisions do the same problems at the same time and are rated based on correct answer and time of response.
     McGill-Toolen A-Team earned a perfect score of 80 points in the regular rounds and a garnered a perfect 20 points in the "overtime blitz rounds" for the highest scores in the Private School Division and over all teams in all divisions.  The McGill-Toolen C-Team with all females had the second highest score in the "Private Schools Division" (75 points) and were awarded both 3rd Place among all schools in all divisions.
    Private School Division Team Results (based on latest scoreboard photos):
         1st  Place              McGill-Toolen A-Team                    80 points
         2nd Place              McGill-Toolen C-Team                    75 points
         3rd Place              Indian Springs School A-Team           66 points
         4th Place              McGill-Toolen B-Team                     63 points

    McGill-Toolen A-Team had the highest scores overall schools in all divisions (including overtime blitz scores) of 120 points.
    Overall School Divisions Team Results (based on latest scoreboard photos):
         1st Place                        McGill-Toolen A-Team           100 points
         2nd Place                       Straughn High School                 95 points
         3rd Place                        McGill-Toolen C-Team            75 points

   Division High Scores:
     1st Regular School Division Teams:  Ranburne C                           70 points
     1st  Private School Division Teams: McGill-Toolen                    100 points*
     1st Large Public School Division Teams:  Straughn                       95 points*
     1st Science Magnet Schools:  Mississippi Math & Science            71 points
[*Overtime Biltz scores added to regular cipher scores.]

     "Perfect Rounds" are earned by correctly answering all 4 presented physics problems correctly in 40 seconds or less. Perfect team rounds were posted by , Connor Kusch (senior), Chris McDonald (senior), Patrick Spafford (sophomore), Peter McDonald (sophomore), Claire Powers (junior), Alayna Mickles (freshman), Caroline Zitnik (freshman) and Findlay Maier (freshman).  Bekah Burgess (freshman( was part of the historic all female McGill-Toolen C-Team.  Marvin Johnson (sophomore), Gus Grow (sophomore) and Joseph Keegan (freshman) were members of the McGill-Toolen B-Team that took 4th place in the private school division.

School Honors:
     McGill-Toolen Catholic High School was awarded 1st Place among all Schools in all divisions (among public, private and magnet schools) in 2016.  This is the third consecutive year that McGill-Toolen has placed 1st or 2nd among all schools in all divisions.
     School Awards over all divisions:
       1st Place: McGill-Toolen
       2nd Place: Straughn
       3rd Place: Mississippi School of Math and Science

Other Activities:
     Dr. Tim Burgess was awarded the "2016 E. Scott Barr Physics Teaching Award" in 2016.  This award is the most prestigious Physics Teaching Award in the southeast United States. This is the first time that the award has been provided to a teacher for the second time (Tim Burgess won the same award in 1992).

     Physics Team moderator Dr. Tim Burgess (McGill-Toolen Science Chair) noted "The competition this year was fierce.  Our competitors showed amazing character as they engaged the first ever overtime "Blitz" and defeated another team that also had a 16 round perfect score.  This is the fourth consecutive Private School Championship which is rare for any school in any division!  McGill-Toolen Catholic High School Physics Team has also won 1st Place among all teams and all schools in all division in 3 of the last 4 years.  This is an incredible accomplishment for our students!"
       Dr. Burgess continued "Physics is the gateway discipline to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers.  The amazing performance of our Physics Competitors in winning at statewide says something substantial about the preparation our students are getting in STEM related courses.  Students who learn to genuinely reason in science will certainly nurture more career options (including STEM careers) AND also develop a deep and vibrant faith.  Our success also springs from the support of our community as displayed in the fabulous facilities and resources our students enjoy while doing scientific reasoning day in and day out in the class room.  Success, as we had these last four years, is only possible with community support and we are very grateful!"

1st in Private Schools and 1st Over all schools in All Divisions
McGill-Toolen A-Team: Connor Kusch, Chris McDonald, 
Peter McDonald & Patrick Spafford

2nd Place Private Schools & 3rd Place Overall Teams in All Divisions
McGill-Toolen C-Team: Carline Zitnik, Alayna Mickles, 
Claire Powers & Bekah Burgess

1st Place Among All Schools in All Divisions
   Patrick Spafford, Peter McDonald, Chris McDonald, Connor Kusch, Findlay Maier,   Joseph Keegan, Gus Grow, Marvin Collins, Alayna Mickles, Bekah Burgess, Caroline Zitnik, Claire Powers

In all the material above it is important to remember that the views expressed by me here, on any website or in any publication do not  represent the views of  
McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, 
Archdiocese of Mobile or any  part of the Universal Catholic Church.

In all the material above it is important to remember that the views expressed by me here, on any website or in any publication 
do not  represent the views of  McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, 
Archdiocese of Mobile or any  part of the Universal Catholic Church.