2011 team

Photo of Benjamin Li

Benjamin Li

Arcadia, CA

Arcadia High School

Grade: Junior


Hiking; rollerblading; badminton; bossing around my little siblings; disassembling and reassembling electronic devices; recreational mathematics; music; reading.


Math Team, Physics Team, Orchestra, Southern California ARML Team


PhysicsBowl, ARML, USAMTS, American Mathematics Competitions


I spent the greater part of my childhood doing what every other kid did: video games; Saturday morning cartoons; trading cards; frolicking around the playground in aimless circles with my playmate entourage in hot pursuit. We pulled pranks on girls and pilfered extra Popsicles during those hot, carefree Californian days. The playground was my empire, the twirly slides my castle spires, and I, high and almighty atop my noble swing, ruled it all. All of a sudden, just as it had begun, I lost interest, and began delving into more mature diversions.

My sudden loss of interest in orthodox childhood pursuits can be attributed to my discovery of books. I devoured the science encyclopedias lying scattered about my home, and savored the taste of knowing how things worked and why things were the way they were -- the fundamental questions of physics. After I had depleted my house's supply of fresh reading material, I plundered my local public library. Isaac Asimov's organic chemistry primer The World of Carbon and its sequels intrigued me so much, I even learned web design to enshrine its teachings in the stormy internet. My love for technology can be entirely blamed on my parents. My dad got bored one day, sat me down in his lap, and taught me Java. I've been coding ever since.

Unlike the golden years of elementary and middle school, my high school experience was not as painless. My fanciful ideals were quickly crushed in the stampede of a competitive, nearly all-Asian public high school. My high school's in-a-way excellent environment fostered the acceleration of maturity -- young adults don't often meet with this kind of disillusionment until college. It left me -- a bubbly, optimistic newfound teenager -- with a jaded mindset that led me to believe that knowledge and problem-solving skills were expendable commodities in the real world, as they were in the microcosm of Arcadia High School. That's when I met Mr. Zhang, the teacher of my AP Physics B class.

He led me back through the spectacular world of physics, gently answering my strangest questions, and rekindling my inspiration. Along with one of his former students, he guided me through my intense study of physics. I would like to deeply thank Vincent Li, a member of last year's US Physics Team, and my physics teachers Mr. Shenyang Zhang and Mr. Mauricio Eguez for their boundless support of my pursuits. Your encouraging words and friendly advice have changed my life forever.

I look forward to getting to know all of you at this year's camp!

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