School News

Weizmann Safe-Cracking Competition

Five Lower Sixth students competed in the national finals of the Weizmann Institute’s annual Physics ‘Safe-cracking’ Tournament recently.

For several months the students have been busily designing and building a safe that requires opponents to solve Physics-based puzzles to crack into it. Their design, “The Grandfather Clock” featured as its first puzzle a set of linked pendulums that had to be activated in a specific order, allowing them to access the second puzzle. This required the potential safecracker to construct and operate a “Heron’s Fountain” siphon in order to empty a vessel of liquid and open the safe.

The tournament involved each team making timed attempts to break into each of the other team’s safes, and scoring points based upon the success or failure of these attempts. They were also marked by a panel of judges on criteria such as originality, the elegance of the Physics principles used, build quality and the aesthetic qualities of the safe.

After many intense rounds of safe-cracking, the results were announced. The Birkdale team narrowly missed out on a top three place that would have taken them to the International Finals in Israel. One consolation was finding out that in the Judges scoring, they had been placed either first or second by every member of the panel.

This was a monumental effort by the Birkdale Team, made up of Yanhao Wang, David Shen, Harvey Cao, Natasha Jones and Dominic Heyes. This was Birkdale’s first attempt at this prestigious competition that has been running since 2005. They thoroughly enjoyed their day in London and meeting the teams from other schools. They are now looking forward to passing on their knowledge to next year’s team!

I would also like to mention Luke Middleton and Will Cassells (L6) (who were involved in the design process but could not make it to the day in London) and thank the Design & Technology department for their invaluable help in the construction of the safe!

Dr Jukes

Children's Hospital Charity