Pawelek competed at the state tournament for the first time on May 22 at the University of Texas after winning both regionals and districts for physics earlier this year. He also placed second overall at regionals as well.
The UIL science competition breaks down into three categories, biology, chemistry, and physics. Pawelek made it as far as regionals as a freshman and sophomore.
“It sure does look good,” Pawelek said.
He said the hardest question on the physics test was on kinematic equations where he had to substitute another value in for an unknown variable with nothing but a TI-84 calculator to help. But, he managed to get the right answer and score a 56. His personal best is an 80.
This was his first year taking a physics class, but it wasn’t in a traditional classroom setting. Instead of working in person with a teacher, Pawelek has a video conference class with Ben Barris from Beeville. He also studied for an hour a day in addition to his regular homework load by using textbooks given to him by his uncle, a physics teacher at Floresville high school.
“I like to know why things happen and why things are the way they are,” Pawelek said. “Physics is the best science to explain that, it is broad and covers everything we see in our everyday lives.”
Pawelek started reading about physics on his own in the first grade. He said he does extra studying on his own now since the UIL test covers more than what’s taught in class, and since it interests him it doesn’t feel like work.
“I have loved science since I was very little,” Pawelek said. “It isn’t hard work or boring, it’s more fun for me; it’s not something I have to force myself to do.”
While carrying a 103 GPA, Pawelek has participated in the UIL Science competition since freshman year and plans on studying theoretical physics in college.
“He is brilliant on his own, not any coaching from me at all,” UIL Coach Glenda Locke said. “He has worked extremely hard and I’m proud of him.”