Boonsboro senior wins regional Physics Bowl

June 08, 2000|By TARA REILLY

A charged particle with constant velocity enters a uniform magnetic field the direction of which is parallel to the particle's velocity. What happens to the particle next?

Don't feel bad if you don't know. Many others probably won't get it either.

But chances are 17-year-old Jonathan McGee would rattle off the answer and then jump into a discussion about the more difficult concepts of physics.

The Boonsboro High School senior won first place in the region in the Physics Bowl, a 40 question multiple choice test co-sponsored by the American Association of Physics Teachers and Metrologic. He won a $300 scholarship and received a certificate of achievement.

McGee, of Boonsboro, took the test on April 18. It was administered at the high school by his physics teacher, Ralph von Philps.


He went in to the exam expecting challenging questions, but what he didn't expect was to come in first in a region that included about 10 other states.

McGee correctly answered 34 of the 40 questions. The national average was 15 correct answers. More than 6,800 students from about 400 schools participated.

"I didn't expect the score I got when I got the test back," McGee said. "This test was harder than it was the other years."

A quiet kid who likes to play video games on his spare time, McGee said he thinks physics is the easiest of the sciences.

"Physics is like, things fall and here's the equation behind it," McGee said. "It's math behind common sense. It's the bare science. Most of the sciences are just applications of physics.

"It's not like chemistry, which is going to tell you how to go make a bomb or something."

His interest in science began early when his parents enrolled him in science courses in the Baltimore /Washington D.C. area. His love for the field increased so much since then, that McGee has decided to major in electrical engineering this fall at the University of Maryland.

"Then I jump into the more difficult stuff," McGee said. "Math and physics, that's electrical engineering."

McGee has goals lined up for after he completes his degree.

"I want to rule the world as CEO of the first corporate conglomerate or work for Lucent Technologies," he said.

By the way, the particle experiences no change in velocity.

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