Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2011 U.S. Physics Team Visits Washington D.C.

Hello, I'm Brian Zhang, a senior from Palo Alto, CA and a member of this year's U.S. Physics Team. This year, AAPT is asking students to post about the camp experience on this blog. So I guess I'll start off!

Since we arrived at College Park, Maryland on May 20, most days have been pretty packed with physics. Our schedule starts with getting up at 7 am for breakfast at the hotel, after which we take a bus over to University of Maryland for our morning classes. They are taught by our wonderful coaches: Paul, Dave, JiaJia, Andrew, and Marianna. In the afternoon, we've had a 2-hour theoretical exam every day, as well as some lab instruction from Warren and QiuZi. Soon, we'll be ramping up the exams - we're taking our five-hour exam in two days and will also be starting "Mystery Labs" tomorrow.

But today, we got a delightful day off from physics to visit Washington D.C.! Upon arriving at the Capitol, we split up into groups to meet our congressional representatives. My group consisted of a bunch of Californians as well as Paul, Dave, and JiaJia. We were able to arrange meetings with three of our representatives: David Dreier, Tammy Baldwin, and Henry Waxman. It was exciting to see inside their offices and ask them a few questions about what happens in Congress.

At 1 pm, we had a special meeting with Representative Rush Holt from New Jersey, the only physicist currently in Congress. He spoke to us about the importance of science education for fostering a unique way of thinking and asking questions. We then had a break during which we visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Then at 5 pm, we were able to meet with Carl Wieman in the White House Conference Center. Mr. Wieman, a Nobel prize-winning physicist who now works on Science and Technology Policy, talked about his research on science education and his views on what it takes to be a good physicist.

And finally, a visit to Washington D.C. isn't complete without a stop at the Albert Einstein bronze statue! Below you can see pictures of all 20 of us piled on his lap and shoulders and more.

2011 U.S. Physics Team poses in front of the Albert Einstein memorial in D.C.
Group picture in front of the Capitol!
Rush Holt speaks to this year's U.S. Physics Team on the steps of the Capitol.
Some members of this year's Physics Team. (I'm at the very left.)