APS News

US Students Win Medals At International Physics Olympiad

Olympiad
Photo Credit: Yi Sun
From left to right: Yi Sun, Eric Mecklenburg, Jeffrey Middleton, Anson Hook, Elena Udovina. Not shown: coaches Mary Mogge and Robert Shurtz.
Every US student sent to the 2004 International Physics Olympiad brought home a medal. Held this year in Pohang, South Korea, the Olympiad brings together high school physics students from 72 nations around the world to participate in the global competition.

Yi Sun (San Jose, CA) and Elena Udovina (Shaker Heights, OH) won gold medals. Anson Hook (Princeton, NJ) and Eric Mecklenburg (Gates Mills, OH) won silver medals, and Jeffrey Middleton, (Austin, TX) brought home a bronze medal. Udovina earned special honors: the most original solution in the competition, and the best score among female participants. This is the second year in a row that the US has earned top female student honors. Coaches Mary Mogge from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, where she chairs the physics department and Robert Shurtz, a physics teacher at the Hawkins School in Gates Mills, OH, accompanied the team to the nine-day competition.

The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) is responsible for recruiting, selecting and training teams each year to compete in the international competition. High school teachers nominate their best students, and those who make the top 200 scores on a screening test advance to the semifinal round of the selection process. A second test, transcripts, and letters of recommendation are used to narrow it down to 24 members of the US physics team. Those students come to the American Center for Physics headquarters for the annual team training camp. Over nine days, the finalists receive an introduction to the first-year university curriculum in physics, accelerating their studies during their remaining time in high school. And when it's over, five students are picked for the Traveling Team to compete in the International Physics Olympiad.

The US program was started in 1986 to promote and demonstrate academic excellence and prepare students to compete in the International Physics Olympiad. Since then, the teams have won a total of 22 gold medals; 16 silver medals; 24 bronze medals; and 10 honorable mentions.

The US Physics Team is co-sponsored by the AAPT and the American Institute of Physics. APS is also a regular contributor


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