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The Olympiad is a nine-day international competition among pre-university students from more than 60 nations. — AAPT.ORG

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For more details and information about the US Physics Team, please contact AAPT's Programs department at 301-209-3340 or

Photo of Sarah Wu

Sarah Wu

Durham, NC

North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

Grade: Senior


running, sleeping, eating, exploring new music, reading design blogs, spending too much time on Pinterest


Math Club, NC ARML, Science Olympiad, varsity cross country, school research journal (editor)


USAJMO, USNCO, NACLO, National Science Olympiad medals, Conrad Challenge (pitch winner)


I didn’t get physics exposure until junior year, when I dove into AP Physics C and (surprisingly) found myself looking forward to class every day. But I did participate in math competitions almost all of middle & high school, and, like many physics enthusiasts, my passion for math has definitely played a big role in cultivating my passion for physics. I love that this subject can explain so many phenomena on such a range of scales, from tiny subatomic interactions to the ever-expanding universe. Like, who knew that falling apples and rising tides work by the same fundamental principle!?

One of my most memorable physics experiences was a class demonstration on optics. Because baby oil and glass (Pyrex) have nearly the same index of refraction, it’s possible to give the illusion of a glass object "disappearing" by submerging it in some baby oil. This absolutely blew my mind. To see the meaning and application of the physics formulas I was learning, in such a crazy way, made me think of all the other possibilities out there - invisibility cloaks, light manipulation, suddenly all the stuff from science fiction. How much more can we explore, and what’s the limit of what we can create? Of course, real cloaking technology doesn't quite work like baby oil and glass, but that's another story.

I feel so honored and humbled to be a member of this year’s US Physics Team – I can’t wait to meet my fellow teammates and to learn from and be inspired by a week of intense (but hopefully fun-filled) physics. Special thanks to my high school science & math teachers, especially Dr. Bennett and Mr. Wheeler, for organizing physics olympiad at my school and always challenging me to dig deeper and think further. Thank you also to my mom, dad, and little sister for believing in me all this time. I couldn’t have done this without all of you.

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