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By Lissie Connors
After 10 intense days of training at the University of Maryland, five students have been chosen to represent the U.S. at this year’s International Physics Olympiad. This July, high school students Vincent Bian, Sean Chen, Albert Qin, Sanjay Raman, and Edward Lu will compete against teams from 79 countries in Tel Aviv. This traveling team was selected from 20 students chosen from high schools around the country.
Sitting and laughing together at a ceremony on June 7, the teammates looked like the closest of friends, even though they had just met a week before. When the final travel team was announced, the loudest cheers weren't coming from the crowd, but from their fellow teammates. While the days were long and challenging, the numerous silly photos displayed at the closing ceremony illustrated that the students had truly enjoyed their time.
The team’s days at Maryland were packed with rigorous physics lectures, problem-sets, labwork, and tests, where the high school students were tasked with digesting college-level material at a swift pace.
“The camp elevates their physics knowledge to a whole new level,” remarked Jiajia Dong, the team’s new academic director and an associate professor at Bucknell University. While this is her first year serving as director, Dong has worked with the team for years as a coach and as co-director, finding it rewarding each year to work with the students.
“It's important for these students to find community here, to study together, and spread the love and joy of physics,” said Dong.
The full 2019 U.S. Physics Team at the closing ceremony at the American Center for Physics (ACP) in College Park, Maryland.
The training camp is sponsored annually by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) along with APS, the American Institute of Physics, and its member organizations, providing a challenging but exhilarating experience for the high schoolers. The program is designed to encourage all students to study physics and gives team members a unique chance to travel internationally. To qualify, students on the team had to show exceptional performance on a series of exams administered at secondary schools all across the country.
Since 1986, when the U.S. first participated in theInternational Physics Olympiad, the team has consistently ranked in the top ten, and they hope to bring home more medals this year.
The author is a Science Communication Intern at APS.
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