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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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Meet the Team

Photo of Kye Shi

Kye Shi

Traveling Team

Watsonville, CA

Monte Vista Christian School

Grade: Senior


Table tennis, DC superhero TV shows, programming, sleep, fiddling with electronics, 3d printing, sketching, robotics


Robotics team, math club, tennis team, ping-pong club


AIME qualifier (2016, 2017), National Merit Scholarship finalist (2017), USAPhO (duh! 2015 bronze; 2016, 2017 gold), Celebrating Art High Honors (2015 Fall), AP National Scholar (2016)


As a kid, I loved making things. Second grade, I remember sitting in the classroom after school--alone, for, as a kid, I sucked at making friends--folding make-believe laptops and clip-on USB sticks out of notebook paper, imagining that I, somehow, could design my own world, create my own toys. Something--I'm not sure what--about creating things captivated me.

Months later, I found myself obsessed with designing the perfect paper airplane--one that would glide stylishly (not like some boring straight dart-plane) but also smoothly. My friend (by now, I'd managed to find a friend) and I found that, for some reason, adding vertical flaps to the tip of the wing caused the plane to curve upward. We took note of this unexplained fact. Soon, we turned the classroom into a paper airport. We got in trouble for that.

When, years later, I got my first laptop (ha, who needs friends now?) and first got into programming, I thought about developing my own video game. I wondered how I'd animate character movements--how they'd jump, how they'd fall, how they'd bump into each other or run into a wall, how they'd fly sky-high above a grenade gone boom, etc. Then, I decided not to develop my own video game.

Early in high school, I got my first robotics kit--an Arduino Uno, a breadboard, a pack of jumper wires, and an assortment of overpriced transistors and resistors and diodes and capacitors and motors and buttons from RadioShack. What were these things, I wondered, and how do I use them? More importantly: OW! Why the heck is this transistor so hot? Out of fear, perhaps, I stopped playing with electronics.

Indeed, I'd always been obsessed with the idea of making things--yet, it seemed, I never knew how to do things right, never knew why things went wrong--never knew, for that matter, why things went right either.

That is, of course, until I found physics. Or, perhaps, until I found mathematics. No longer was I restricted to my gut judgment, to trial-and-error, to hand-wavy mumbo-jumbo about electrons and atoms and some dude called Bernoulli--finally, I found that I could truly feel the world through concrete, mathematical models; that I could use these models, these few mathematical axioms to explain all the natural phenomena I once found strange. Physics, so to speak, brought it all together; it introduced order and simplicity into this strange world of complicated facts.

So I dived into physics, eager to find out how objects moved in a gravitational field, how momentum and energy interacted when balls bounced, how pressure changed with a fluid's flow rate, how frisbees curved depending on their spin, how to limit current and calculate power dissipation and radiation and how to not nearly burn my finger off by shorting a MOSFET...

Physics empowered me with a means of understanding the world--a model with which to predict, to analyze, to control the world, a toolkit with which to shape and alter and change the world. Physics, I realized, gave me what I needed to "make" the world.

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