Apparatus Competition

1st place winner - sm2017 apparatus contest

The Apparatus Competition was established to recognize, reward, and publicize worthwhile contributions to physics teaching through demonstration and experiment.

With huge advances in technology, many physics apparatus are now commercially available. But even with these advances,physics research still requires the inventive spirit of designing and building experimental apparatus one's self.

Whether developed to pique the interest of students, used in lecture and demonstration, or simply used to help teach physics in new or fascinating ways, teachers are continually engineering apparatus to aid physics instruction. The Apparatus Competition is where teachers can share their apparatus with others.

The Competition is held annually during AAPT's summer meeting and is open to all members. Entries to the competition are screened according to the selection criteria below.

2023 Competition Booklet

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Criteria for Entry

  • Apparatus is either new in design or a modification of an existing design.
  • Apparatus is not commercially available.
  • The specifics of the apparatus have not been published.

For further specifications, view the complete rules and judging guidelines.


There are two categories of entrants:

  1. Low Cost—an apparatus costing less than $100 to build (excluding exempt equipment)
  2. Unlimited Cost

Participants may enter a single apparatus in both categories, provided that the criteria for both categories are met.


PASCO scientific  will generously provide cash prizes to the creators of the 2023 winning entries. The 2023 awards available for the Introductory Laboratory category are:

  • First Place: $1,000
  • Second Place: $600
  • Third Place: $200
  • Additionally, up to six $100 prizes were available to be awarded in the Low Cost category.

*Award winners are determined by the competition judges. First prize is always awarded; not all other prizes are necessarily awarded.

Entry Forms for Apparatus Competition: Both Unlimited Cost and Low Cost Category

Important Dates in 2023


Notify Paul Noel of your intention to enter the 2023 Apparatus Competition and any services required to display your apparatus. Obtain an official application packet with entry form, rules of eligibility and judging, safety guidelines, and competition requirements (via email ).

June 16

Complete entry materials are due. The late entries may be accepted provided space available. Late entries might not be published in the onsite list of apparatus.

Previous Entries and Winners


Contact Information

To obtain more information about the competition, contact Paul Noel (Competition Coordinator) at

This competition is sponsored by the AAPT Committee on Apparatus and has been generously supported by PASCO scientific.