Harvard Physics Circle

Attending the Physics Olympiad is a remarkable opportunity for high-school students. The recent International Physics Olympiad was held in Tel-Aviv, Israel, in July 2019, where teams of 5 from dozens of countries participated. 

To learn more about the International Physics Olympiad, click here.

We are preparing students for the first screening exam for the US Physics Olympiad team, known as the "F=ma" exam,  held annualy at the end of January. The material for this exam is mostly mechanics - you can find examples of previous exams here. The mentoring is done by undergraduate and graduate students, from Harvard and MIT, starting in the fall and continuing through January. In the spring (January through March) we start preparations for the Semi-Finals exam, which covers a much broader range of materials.


This year, we will be holding the Harvard Physics Circle meetings virtually over zoom, starting Saturday September 19, 2020 at 3 pm. Participation is open to any interested high school students. To receive the links for the virtual sessions, please email your name, school and grade to:  harvardphysicscircle@gmail.com 


To students who missed the first sessions: Meetings will continue weekly on Saturdays at 1 pm EDT, and you can still join! Simply sign up as instructed above. The syllabus and relevant pdfs can be found below. 

In the spring semester we will cover topics other than mechanics, including electromagnetism, thermodynamics and relativity: see the attached syllabus.


Date Topic
Sep 19 Kinematics
Sep 26 Dimensional Analysis/Math
Oct 3 Statics
Oct 10 Momentum
Oct 17 Work-Energy
Oct 24 Circular Motion
Oct 31 Angular Momentum
Nov 7 Harmonic Motion
Nov 14 Gravitation Laws
Nov 21 Orbital Mechanics
Nov 28 Hydrostatics
Dec 5 F=ma mixed problems
Dec 12 F=ma mixed problems
Dec 19 F=ma mixed problems
Jan 9 Harvard Physics Circle Exam

Spring semester 2021 

Date Topic
Jan 16 Coulomb’s Law, Gauss’s Law,
Jan 23 Capacitors, Current,
Resistance, Resistors
Jan 30 Magnetism, Biot-Savart,
Ampere’s Law
Feb 6 Faraday’s Law, Inductors,
Inductance, RC/RL Circuits,
RLC Circuits
Feb 13 Continue RLC Circuits, Driven
RLC Circuits, Maxwell’s
Feb 20 Laws of Thermodynamics, Ideal
Gases, Heat Engines, Entropy
Feb 27 Relativistic Kinematics
(including Four-Vectors)
March 6 Relativistic Dynamics,
Collisions, Problem-Solving





physics_circle_kinematics.pdf2.02 MB
physics_circle_dimensional_analysis_and_math.pdf1.1 MB
physics_circle_statics.pdf391 KB
physics_circle_momentum.pdf1.05 MB
physics_circle_work_energy.pdf537 KB
physics_circle_circular_motion.pdf328 KB
physics_circle_angular_momentum.pdf1.07 MB
physics_circle_oscillations.pdf174 KB
physics_circle_gravitational_laws.pdf477 KB
physics_circle_orbital.pdf190 KB
physics_circle_hydrostatics.pdf826 KB
physics_circle_nonstandard.pdf188 KB
various_problems_physics_circle.pdf650 KB
various_problems_iii_physics_circle.pdf2.39 MB
physics_circle_topics_spring_202.pdf71 KB
physics_circle_coulomb_s_law_gauss_s_law_potential.pdf379 KB