Physics Department Hosts Holland Prize – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Physics Department Hosts Holland Prize

The Physics Department is set to host its 14th annual Holland Prize Competition, which invites student participants to enter a science-focused contest for a chance to win $1,000 in prize money. This year’s event will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 17, in Eaton 111.

The Holland Prize Competition requires students to deliver a 15-minute oral presentation in which some scientific principle or application of physics is derived and explained. Contestants are evaluated for their scientific and oratorical excellence and will be reviewed by a panel of faculty from a range of disciplines.

“It’s not necessarily how complicated the topic, but how well it is presented,” says Assistant Professor of Physics Ileana Dumitriu. “We are looking for clear explanations at the basic level and an ability to interact with the audience.”

That is why the judging panel traditionally includes an English professor in addition to a physics professor and an interdisciplinary faculty member.

This year, judges will include Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature Alla Ivanchikova, Assistant Professor of Physics Leslie Hebb and Professor of Chemistry Erin Pelkey. The three faculty members were chosen based on their ability to maintain objectivity as well as their open-mindedness and enthusiasm towards the competition. Each judge will review students on their accuracy, presentation skills and ability to engage members of the audience.

“Students will gain more understanding of physics by explaining their topic, but students and faculty also have the opportunity to get together and see what others are doing,” Dumitriu says. “They will interact across disciplines.”

Presentations from past years have focused on topics such as “Light- Wave or Particle?” or “The Physics of Baseball.”

Last year, Briton Claridge ’13 (pictured above) was named the winner for his talk titled “A Quick Derivation of E=MC2 and its Interpretation.” Successful talks will utilize one or more medium of presentation in addition to demonstrating a thorough understanding of the given topic.