Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Mental, Not a Physical, Face-Off

College Park, MD (May 14, 2008) The United States is preparing its smartest students to face the challenge of meeting physics students from all over the world in a brain-to-brain competition.

Twenty-four students from across the U.S. have been chosen to train for the mentally grueling exams and lab tests they'll face at the International Physics Olympiad, held this year July 20-29 in Hanoi in Vietnam.

"These young people, who mix great talent with extraordinary √©lan for physics, show the world an aspect of America we can all be proud of,” said Dr. Charles Holbrow, executive officer of the American Association of Physics Teachers in College Park, MD, which selects the students and organizes their training.

To prepare, the students will spend ten days at a physics training camp at the University of Maryland, College Park, conducting lab experiments, taking exams, and hearing presentations from prominent scientists. At the end of the training camp, five students will be selected to travel to the international competition.

They'll be coached by several physicists: head coach Robert H. Shurtz, a physics teacher at Hawken School, Gates Mills, OH and Paul Stanley, a physics and astronomy associate professor at Beloit College in Wisconsin.

On May 22, the students will travel to Washington, DC, for a tour of the area and to meet their Senators and Representatives. The students will present a physics-related toy to their member of Congress. Pictures of the students and their members of Congress will be available after the event.

Last year, the team brought home two gold and three silver medals.

The U.S. Physics Olympiad Program was started in 1986 by AAPT to promote and demonstrate academic excellence. The Olympiad is a nine-day international competition among pre-university students from more than 60 nations. This year's event is co-organized by the Vietnamese Physical Society and the Ministry of Education and Training.

May 17-27 -- Students visit University of Maryland for their intensive training camp.
May 22 -- Visit Capitol Hill to meet their members of Congress.
May 27 -- Five students chosen to represent the US at the international competition.
July 20 -- Students arrive in Hanoi for the international competition.
July 30 -- The International Competition's final awards given.

Main website of the U.S. Physics Team:
Bios of each student are available online at:
History of the physics team, including past winners, is available at:
The official website of the International Physics Olympiad, hosted by the Vietnamese team: