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Did you know?

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



Meet the Team

Photo of Sean Chen

Sean Chen

San Diego, CA

Canyon Crest Academy

Grade: Sophomore


Physics, table tennis, reading, eating too many hot cheetos, playing Angry Birds


Physics, math, computer science, (ocean) science bowl, quiz bowl, table tennis, badminton




I’ve been interested in physics for a while, and for quite a bit without even knowing it. When I was in elementary school and first learned about atoms, I was fascinated by all the tiny particles that made everything up. So before I knew what physics was, I thought that I wanted to be a chemist when I grew up. I enjoyed reading about how things worked, why things worked, and Pokemon. Eventually, I started thinking that chemistry isn’t what I was looking for.

Throughout late elementary school to middle school, I figured my interests lay in STEM, and tried out some math and science competitions that were available. There wasn’t anything that particularly caught my attention, until around the end of eighth grade, when I started hearing more about physics. I found the explanations that physics offered very interesting, and I was intrigued by how it modeled nature using mathematics, so I wanted to dive deeper into physics. Due to some new rules in our high school, I haven’t been able to take a formal physics class yet, but I could still learn from some of the many other resources available! After getting familiar with basic calculus, I went through books like Halliday/Resnick and Morin’s Introduction to Classical Mechanics, which built up most of my core knowledge in physics. Reading through them felt like an enthralling new experience, where I could imagine nature at work, see mathematics elegantly model those workings, see how simple, fundamental concepts can explain so many different phenomena, and go through stimulating and challenging problems. I did problems from various sources to solidify my skills during my sophomore school year, and now I’m hoping to start learning more advanced math and physics to gain new insights about nature (and, of course, be able to understand more cool Wikipedia articles on physics). I don’t think I would have been able to go through this journey if it wasn’t so enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to more experiences in the future!

In my free time, I usually watch various YouTube videos (Sixty Symbols is pretty cool), read interesting stories, sneak downstairs to eat junk food, chat with my friends, or contemplate life (and start out my thoughts by assuming humans are perfect spheres). Sometimes, I try to think of something new to do, like cooking eggs mixed with different things (e.g. grape juice?), which makes me think that being a physicist should work out better than being a chef. I’ve also played table tennis at my local club for about five years so far, and I like joining different clubs that are usually related to STEM to find fun new experiences and learn interesting things.

I would like to thank my family: my parents who never failed to support me, and my brother who can be really cute. Additionally, I would like to thank Kevin Zhou (whom my mother helped me connect with, thanks!) for offering online tutoring sessions that helped me prepare for the USAPhO. I’m also grateful for the community at school, where I can meet many friends that are interested in all kinds of areas whom I can have stimulating discussions with. Finally, thanks to AAPT for providing this great opportunity.

I’m excited to be part of the physics team, and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone at camp!

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Disclaimer: Information in Physics Team profiles is provided by the Team members and is in no way a reflection of AAPT's opinions or views.

Contact Information

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