Okay, that title is overly dramatic. Sorry. But it's kinda technically accurate...
At the United States Invitational Young Physicist Tournament, teams present their solutions to four low-undergraduate research problems. Then, the presenting team is evaluated and questioned by another team! This process is called a "physics fight," a methodology developed by the International Young Physicist Tournament and adapted for the American version of the tournament.
The actual event resembles a combination of a thesis defense crossed with a scientific conference presentation crossed with a Lincoln-Douglas debate. Teams are judged not only on their physics knowledge, but also on their ability to engage in questioning and discussion in a search for the truth of the problem.
Want to be a juror? See, I'm the president of this tournament's sponsoring organization. We are in the process of recruiting jurors to referee these physics fights. If you're a high school physics teacher or college physics professor, then we want YOU. Everyone who has ever seen this USIYPT in action has fallen in love with the friendliness among participants, the outstanding physics, the poise of the contestants, and the professional camaraderie amongst teachers, students, and jurors. (Several invited jurors have liked it so much they've brought a team the next year.)
This year, the USIYPT will be at Oak Ridge Associated Universities in Oak Ridge, TN on February 3-4 2012. The kicker is, the organization is supported only by student fees, for now. We can't pay an honorarium, or even for a hotel room.* But if you can get to Oak Ridge, we'll get you on the field for our intellectual Super Bowl.
*Not yet, anyway. Anyone know a company or non profit that wants to grant us a budget for this thing? :-)
Go to usaypt.org for further details about the tournament; email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like further information or a formal invitation as a juror. (And I'd be happy to talk about physics fights at length on the phone as well if you'd like.)