Andrew Schrader ’21 was recently named the winner of the Physics Department’s 2019 Albert Holland Physics Lecture Competition, after the delivery of his presentation, “Archimedes’ Principle: What Else Will Float Your Boat?”
The competition invites HWS students to conduct a 15-minute lecture in which some significant principle or application of physics is derived and explained. Contestants are evaluated for scientific and oratorical excellence. Schrader earned a cash prize as the winner.
A physics and ancient Greek double major, Schrader was encouraged to take part in this year’s competition by his adviser, Professor of Physics Donald Spector.
“As a Greek major, I am always looking for opportunities to share my love of the classics,” says Schrader. “Archimedes is one of the greatest physicists of all time, so it seemed perfect to do a presentation on him. Doing a presentation that tied in with ancient Greece had the additional benefit of providing a strong motivation to my derivation. Archimedes had a clear reason for looking into the property I was describing, the well-known problem of the crown, so I was able to tell that story as an example of why my derivation was important.”
Schrader worked diligently in his preparation for the competition, from choosing his topic to practicing his presentation. He also took advantage of his friends who are studying other disciplines to perfect his presentation methods and explanations.
“I’m accustomed to talking about math with physicists, so I wasn’t worried about being able to communicate my derivation to them, but I don’t spend a lot of time chatting about math with my friends who study music or chemistry, for example. I tried to learn from the places where my friends got lost, and to tweak those parts of my presentation so that they were as clear as possible,” he says.
The competition and prize were endowed by the late Professor of Physics Allan M. Russell P’81, P’86, for the purpose of encouraging physics discourse. The prize is named in honor and memory of past HWS President Albert Edward Holland.
This year’s competition had six entrants. In addition to Schrader, the presenters included Max Brodheim ’20, a physics and computer science double major; Kate Crabtree ’22, a philosophy and biology double major; James Monaco ’20, a physics and chemistry double major; Isaac Savona ’22; and Hayes Torrence ’20, a physics and computer science double major.
The winner is selected by a panel of judges comprised of one professor from the Physics Department, one from the English Department and one representing any other discipline. This year’s judges included Spector, Professor of English Nicola Minott-Ahl and Professor of Chemistry Elana Stennett.