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In 1986, under the direction of the AAPT Executive Officer, Jack Wilson, the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) organized the United States Physics Team for the first time. — AAPT.ORG

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Photo of Charles Wang

Charles Wang

Alexandria, VA

Thomas Jefferson HS for Sci-Tech

Grade: Sophomore


Tennis, Reading, Programing, Poi, Violin


Physics Team, Computer Tech Assistants, Electronics Club, Poi, Computer Security, Product Design Club, Bird Club


USAPHO Gold (2014, 2015, 2016), US Physics Training Camp 2015, First Place in Region Physics Bowl (2016), USACO Platinum, AP Scholar with Distinction Award (2014), AIME, PUPC


I always sought to know how the world works, driving me to ask countless questions since I was very young. Astronomy interested me first, which impressed me with pictures of nebulas and galaxies. At age five, I learned the fusion processes of the sun. Years later, I can still remember the page where the steps of the fusion processes are elucidated. For years, my favorite celestial object was black hole.

Once in second grade I discussed science with one of my teachers’ son, a scientist in a particle accelerator lab. He was so kind to give me a copy of PDG Particle Physics Booklet. I like the stuff, but I could not quite understand it. It became a driving force for me to try to learn particle physics. I soon found that to understand particle physics, I have to know quantum mechanics first, then differential equations, and so on. This inspired me to start learning math from the ground up, from algebra to calculus to differential equations. I read all kinds of math books that I borrowed from local libraries. I learned single variable calculus in second grade with my dad’s guidance, and then learned linear algebra and differential equations on my own.

Dr. Dell recommended me a quantum mechanics textbook before I became a formal TJHSST student. I was jumping with joy because the challenge. I took Dr. Dell’s Quantum Mechanics and Electrodynamics during my freshman year at TJHSST. I am currently trying to read Gravitation by Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler. It’s a book about general relativity and is sometimes known as “the telephone book” for its large size by graduate students. I had some trouble understanding it, so I have restarted on the book again. I enjoy the challenge and read it whenever I have time.

My strengths are grasping new concepts easily, visualizing concepts, and linking them together into a big picture. Complex theoretical problems always intrigue me and I enjoy the process of coming up with a simple, elegant solution to difficult math or physics problems.

I have a notebook for recording any random thoughts I have. Some examples are: an attempt to derive the mechanics of jump rope motion, an algorithm for going through all the (graph theoretical) trees of a given size, circular polarizing filters, explorations of quantum gates, and a relativistic perfectly rigid bar.

I am delighted and honored to be part of the team again. I had so much fun last year and learned a lot new concepts. I still enjoyed the discussion with Dr. Gate last year. I look forward to have more exciting learning experience and meet other physics loving friends this year.

I would like to thank my preschool teacher Mrs. Bahr for seeding my interest in science; Mrs. O’ Connor for fostering my interest in math and science; Mr. Williams for deepening my interest in math; my AP teachers in Chantilly High School for teaching me while I was still an elementary student. Finally, I would like to specially thank Dr. Dell, Dr. Wood, and Dr. Osborne at TJHSST, who have not only taught me in class, but also acted as guiding stars in my life. Without the help of all my teachers, I would not have become who I am today.

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