AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers

Apparatus Competition



1. All members of the AAPT are eligible to enter the competition.  Non-members may enter if they are sponsored by a member.

2. The Director(s) and judges may display apparatus but may not enter the Competition for judging.

3. Apparatus should have some pedagogical value in teaching physics (i.e. demonstration, introductory labs, advanced labs, high school, outreach activities, etc.)

4. Apparatus whose description has been previously published is ineligible for the Competition.

5. Apparatus which is in commercial production by a manufacturer is ineligible.

6. Entrants are not required to be from academic institutions.  However, it is the responsibility of the Director(s) to inform nonacademic entrants that their entries can only be accepted subject to the condition that they will not be used for publicity or promotional purposes.

7. There is no restriction on the number of entries that one person may enter.

8. All entries will be considered for the Unlimited Cost awards.   In addition, entries are considered for additional Low Cost awards  if they can be constructed for less than $65 excluding certain commonly available equipment which is exempt from the $100 limit.  A priced parts-list must be provided for an entry to be considered for the Low Cost awards.

9. Competition entrants must provide all pieces of apparatus necessary to exhibit and operate their entries.  Electrical outlets (60 Hz, 110 AC) will be provided on request.  Special services, such as running water and compressed air, will be provided if available at the site of the Competition, but the costs of all special services must be borne by the entrant.  Requests for special services must be made on the entry form.  Audio-Visual equipment is typically not available unless the expense is borne by the entrant.

10. The Director(s) will provide for reasonable care of equipment entered in the Competition.  However, the AAPT, nor the Competition Director, shall be held liable for loss or damage to equipment.

11. Entries submitted by persons unable to attend the Competition will be unpacked and set up by the Director(s) consistent with directions supplied with the exhibit.  At the close of the Competition it is the responsibility of the Director(s) to see that these entries are repackaged for return shipment at the expense of the entrant.  Unaccompanied entries from outside the United States will be accepted, but due to customs difficulties, return of the apparatus cannot be guaranteed.

12. Entrants must abide by the instructions issued by the Director(s) of the Competition including submission deadlines. In special circumstances, the Director(s) may extend the deadlines upon request.

13. All entries will be posted on the Apparatus Competition web page following the competition.


The AAPT must guarantee the safety of visitors to the Apparatus Competition.  Also be aware that not all visitors are fellow physics teachers, spouses and children often view the competition.  To that end we must request that the following rules be observed:

a. Exhibits should not leave exposed any electrical contacts which could cause injury if touched;

b. Exhibits should not include any chemicals that could cause injury if inhaled, ingested, touched, or contacted by eyes or other sensitive parts of the body;

c. Exhibits must be sufficiently stable so that the probability of any part of the exhibit falling or coming apart is negligible;

d. Exhibits should not leave exposed pieces of apparatus which are so hot that injury could result to a person touching the apparatus;

e. Exhibits must not include features which could explode as a result of either chemical or mechanical interactions; and

f. Exhibits that use lasers must include protective devices that make it impossible for injurious laser light to enter the eye of the observer.


1.  All apparatus should have a professional appearance.

2.  You will not be present when the judges view your apparatus.  Thus you should provide simple operating instructions and/or explanation to display near your apparatus.

3.  The description for each apparatus should include suggestions on how this apparatus can be used to teach physics.

4.  Judges will have a solid background in physics, but should not be expected to have studied the theory behind each apparatus in depth.

5.  In the past, some entrants have chosen to stay with their equipment during the public viewing to clarify the operation and theory of their apparatus.  This is optional.