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Twenty-four students from 15 states have been selected as some of the brightest physics and math students in the country. On May 31st, the students will arrive at the University of Maryland as members of the 2002 Physics Olympiad Team. First nominated by their high school physics teachers in January the students began taking extremely challenging physics exams, eventually scoring higher than 1100 other students to earn a spot on the prestigious team.
The team is about more than just academics however, says Dr. Bernard Khoury, Executive Officer of The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), which co-sponsors the U.S. Olympiad Team with the American Institute of Physics (AIP). "These students are great role models, learning what it means to be the leaders driving the technological advances of tomorrow," he says.
The Physics Team will spend a week at the physics 'boot' camp, conducting lab experiments, taking exams, and hearing presentations from prominent scientists. They will also be competing. The top five students from the camp will be awarded medals and college scholarships at a tribute ceremony at NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. on June 7th. At the ceremony the students will hear from NASA Astronaut Dr. John Grunsfeld, a veteran of four space flights, including the most recent shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. "Dr. Grunsfeld is an excellent example of where physics training can take you," says James Stith, Vice President of Physics Resources at AIP.
The U.S. Physics Olympiad Program was started in 1986 to promote and demonstrate academic excellence and prepare students to compete in the International Physics Olympiad. Due to concerns about the safety of international travel, this year's winners will not be traveling to the international competition being held in Indonesia.
— Inside Science News Service
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