APS News

U.S. Physics Olympiad Team Returns With Gold and Silver

By David Voss

US Physics Olympiad Team showing gold and silver medals
Photo: Paul Stanley

The 2015 U.S. Physics Olympiad traveling team brings home gold and silver medals: (l to r) Kevin Li, Saranesh Prembabu, Zachary Bogorad, Jason Lu, and Adam Busis.

In a four-way tie for second place overall, the United States Physics Olympiad team won four gold medals and one silver medal at the International Physics Olympiad in Mumbai.

Three other countries — Russia, Taiwan, and South Korea — also won four gold and one silver medal, while China took home first place with five gold medals.

At the Olympiad, top high school physics students from around the world face a challenging battery of tests: a five-hour theory exam and a five-hour experimental exam. The theory questions ranged from the physics of neutrinos and photons emitted from the Sun, to the engineering design of a nuclear reactor. The experimental challenge involved measuring complex optical diffraction patterns and the diffraction of surface waves.

The U.S. team’s performance is the best relative to other teams since 2009, said Paul Stanley of Beloit College in Wisconsin, academic director of the team. “[There were] some remarkably creative solutions by all of the U.S. Team, but unfortunately the scoring system did not award extra points for creativity!” Stanley wrote in an email.

The U.S. Physics Olympiad program was started by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and is co-sponsored by a number of societies, including APS. “Everyone at AAPT is very proud of the second place position of the team and for each individual’s medals and placement,” said Beth Cunningham, executive officer of AAPT.

U.S. team members Zachary Bogorad (Solon High School, Ohio), Adam Busis (Montgomery Blair High School, Maryland), Saranesh Prembabu (Dougherty Valley High School, California), and Kevin Li (West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, New Jersey) won gold medals and Jason Lu (Adlai Stevenson High School, Illinois) returned with a silver medal. Stanley, and David Fallest of North Carolina State University, led the team.

Taehyoung Kim of South Korea had the top score in theory and was the overall individual winner of the Olympiad. Sol Kim of South Korea garnered the top experimental score, and gold medal winner Thao Thi Huong Dinh of Vietnam was recognized as the top female participant.

“This is an incredibly important opportunity for these students to get together and learn much more about physics than they can on their own, and to bring back excitement about engaging in physics to their friends and classmates,” Cunningham said.

Editor’s Note: Team Director Paul Stanley is the author of this issue’s Back Page.

Related Information

Gray Arrow United States Traveling Team Selected - APS News, July 2015

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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Emily Conover
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
Art Director and Special Publications Manager: Kerry G. Johnson
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik