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About the Team
Team Photo   Sophie Cai
Ridgefield High School, Ridgefield, CT

Piano, Violin, Ping-Pong, Reading

Treasurer of Debate Team, Co-Captain of Math Team, Editor-in-Chief of School Newspaper, Associate Director of U.S. China Youth Forum

American Invitational Examination, 2005 U.S. Physics Team Semifinalist, 2005 Physics Bowl Division II: Region II First Place, [Extracurriculars] Connecticut Debate Association: Second Place Varsity Speaker, Connecticut Fairfield County Math League: First Place Sophomore, Violin: Three-Time Connecticut All-State Orchestra Member, Piano: Selected for American Fine Arts Festival Mozart 250th Anniversary Celebration Concert at Carnegie Hall

I was born and have always lived in the United States, but my parents both came from Shanghai, China, and so I have had the opportunity for the last sixteen years of my life to experience two different cultures and hear two sides to almost every issue of international significance. This has greatly enhanced my interest in subjects like world history and politics hence my participation in debate but then again, my parents are also both engineers hence my interest in physics. In fact, one of the best ways to describe me is that I have a wide range of interests, which generally keep me quite occupied. When I was younger, I mainly spent my time reading English novels and ruining my eyesight but these days, I mainly spend my time reading science texts and trying to improve my eyesight. (I recently became interested in the potential for natural, noninvasive methods of vision improvement; over the summer I managed to reverse my vision loss by 0.5-0.75 diopters within two weeks, an improvement that I have maintained so far.) Overall, I think my life thus far can best be summarized as a progression from an initially left-handed individual interested mainly in reading, writing, and drawing to a right-handed individual interested mainly in physics, chemistry, and calculus. With regards to how I became interested in the U.S. Physics Team, for that I must thank the individuals in charge of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth program. In eighth grade, I qualified for the Johns Hopkins Study of Exceptional Talent (SET) after earning an 800 on the math portion of the SAT and a 700 on the verbal portion before the age of 13, and ever since have periodically received the SET Precollege Newsletter, which informs me of all the wonderful academic competitions, including this one, that are available to high school students like me. I believe that this and the other related Olympiad competitions are particularly important because they demonstrate the importance of math and science instruction in an age when American schools and students generally seem to be losing interest in such disciplines. I especially hope to see more girls being selected for the U.S. Physics Team and other national teams in the future, since I feel that math and science are among the few universal subjects that have the potential to transcend all racial, cultural, and gender-based boundaries. And to address the age-old question, hat do you want to be when you grow up? I am still keeping my options open, but given my interest in vision improvement, I am considering ophthalmology, where physics (i.e. optics) and biology come together to serve the greater good. Finally, I would like to thank my grandfather, Ruying Qian, for encouraging and motivating me to study math and science, my physics teacher, Mr. David Waltimyer, for his excellent and inspiring instruction, and my parents and younger brother for always being supportive of whatever I do. And I would also like to commemorate my great-grandparents, Qian Xiangbiao and Li Xiuqin, who established a family tradition of love of math and science that has helped me reach the point I am at today.