Yesterday, the 24 members of this year's U.S. Physics Team were on Capitol Hill, meeting their Senators and Representatives. The Physics Team is organized annually by the American Association of Physics Teachers and sponsored by all ten of the Member Societies of the American Institute of Physics. These 24 high-school age students from across the U.S. were selected for the 2006 Team through two competitive examinations. They arrived at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland on May 19 for a week-long training camp, where they are undergoing intensive training and testing in problem-solving and laboratory skills.
Five team members will be selected to compete in the 2006 International Physics Olympiad, a physics competition for pre-university age students. This year's Olympiad will be held July 8 - 17 at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. U.S. Physics Team members earned one bronze, two silver, and two gold medals at last year's competition in Salamanca, Spain.
In addition to meeting with their own Members of Congress, the Team Members gathered to hear talks from Representatives Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), both physicists, and to present them with gifts and certificates for their many years of support for the Physics Team. At the same time, the American Association of Physics Teachers also awarded Holt and Ehlers lifetime memberships. In honor of the Team, Rep. Ehlers inserted a statement into the May 25 Congressional Record congratulating the students and wishing them well. His statement follows:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the achievements of the members of the 2006 United States Physics Olympiad Team. These 24 individuals have shown tremendous aptitude in physics and leadership among their peers.
"It is very challenging to earn a spot on this prestigious team. After being nominated by their high school teachers and taking a preliminary exam, 200 students qualified to take the second and final screening exam for the U.S. Physics Team. The 24 survivors of that group represent the top physics students in the U.S., and they are now at a nine-day training camp of intense study, examination and problem solving. Five of these exceptional students will advance and represent the United States in a tremendous international competition in July at the International Physics Olympiad in Singapore.
"Members of the 2006 team include: Sophie Cai, ZeNan Chang, David Chen, Otis Chodosh, Kenan Diab, Jiashuo Feng, Yingyu Gao, Sherry Gong, Timothy Hsieh, Rui Hu, Ariella Kirsch, Jason LaRue, Men Young Lee, David Lo, Benjamin Michel, Hetul Patel, Veronica Pillar, Nimish Ramanlal, Ingmar Saberi, William Throwe, Arnav Tripathy, Henry Tung, Philip Tynan and Haofei Wei.
"Mr. Speaker, as a nuclear physicist and former physics professor, I have worked to promote math and science education and to recognize the pivotal role these fields play in our nation's economic competitiveness and national security. Educating our K-12 students in math and science is very important. It is encouraging to see so many young, outstanding physics students enthusiastic about science, and I note that many of them chose to pursue science as a result of a teacher or family member who encouraged them along the way. Making sure our teachers are well-equipped to teach science and math is very important in fostering the interest of future generations in these subjects.
"I hope the composite enthusiasm of these students and the other semifinalists will allow them to consider future careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Furthermore, I hope some of them consider running for public office and add their expertise to the policy world! I am very thankful for these future leaders and ask that you please join me in congratulating them on their wonderful achievements and wishing the top five the best of luck as they represent the United States in Singapore."