The Principles of the IPT

Concept of the IPT: the Physics Fights

A list of 17 problems is created every year for the IPT. The official problem list for 2017 is available here. The problems of previous editions can be found here.
You have until the tournament in April 2017 to prepare a presentation of these problems. You can favour a theoretical or experimental approach, but keep in mind that a good physicist handles both aspects !
You can find below a selection of problems from this year that should prove you that these are not your usual physics class problems.

Three roles

Then, in April, all teams gather to compare their solutions! During this week, you and your team will take part in several rounds of so-called Physics Fights. During each Physics Fight, 3 teams confront each other. Fight after fight, they play the roles of Reporter, Opponent and Reviewer.


The Reporter has 10 minutes to expose his solution to a problem. Then, he/she has to defend his answer and points of view during the following discussions.


The Opponent has to explain in 5 minutes the weaknesses and eventual errors of the Reporter's solution. The Opponent then participates to the discussion to improve the Reporter's solution.


The Reviewer will review both the Reporter and the Opponent performances. His role is to help the jury decide their marks by pointing out the progresses made during the discussions.
The performance of the teams is judged by an experienced jury, and the 3 best teams get into the final !
Unlike your typical physics exam, the problems  must not only be presented, but also challenged and reviewed by the other participants. On top of the challenge that the tournament represents, to take part in it is an amazing experience in which you will learn how to constructively criticize scientific solutions. This is something that you cannot find in any University course, and it is very close to how real science works!

Exemple of problems of the IPT 2017

Handy gliderglider

It is possible to make small gliders with paper and to make them fly for a very long time by putting your hand below the glider during flight. Explain the physics behind this phenomenon and describe the optimal set of parameters for the best control of the glider.


At a certain temperature, popcorn bursts open, jumps and emits a ‘pop’ sound. Devise a method to estimate the jump height of the corn kernels based on measurements of the sound of the pop and determine the limits of the precision in your chosen method. Typical parameters for consideration may include the type of corn, initial positioning of corn, heating mechanism, heat, heating rate, kernel coupling, etc.

LEGO Towerlego2

A LEGO mold, water and gelatin can be used to produce jelly, or ‘gummy’ LEGO bricks. It is possible to build towers using these gummy LEGO bricks in the same way as can be achieved with their plastic counterparts. What is the maximum height of gummy LEGO tower that can be built and how does this depend on the concentration of gelatin in the bricks?

The full list of problems is available here !