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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



Meet the Team

Photo of Hagan Hensley

Hagan Hensley

Stanford, CA

EPGY Stanford University

Grade: Senior


recreational astronomy, puzzle video games, reading (sci fi), hiking


Astronomy club, Science Bowl club, Competition Physics club, San Antonio League of Sidewalk Astronomers


IOAA Gold (2017), IOAA Silver (2016), Bay Area regional Science Bowl, AIME (2016/17)


My interest in physics stemmed from a lifelong interest in astronomy. I’m lucky to live only a short drive away from the dark skies of west Texas, and when I was young my parents would often take me to see the stars away from city lights. I vividly remember the first time I saw the Milky Way. It wasn’t long after that that I realized the fuzzy blur of the Milky Way stretching across the sky was actually composed of billions of individual stars, packed too closely together for the naked eye to tell apart. From that point on, I was hooked. I got my first telescope at the age of 10, and I still have it to this day. I joined the local city astronomy club as the youngest member and spent several years participating in public star parties. I always enjoyed getting to show astronomical objects like Saturn up close to people who had never looked through a telescope before.

I started attending Stanford Online High School (OHS) in 2015, which has been a very unique high school experience. It is unlike most online programs in that the classes are very similar to normal ones, with all students and the teacher attending simultaneously, coming on camera and microphone, and participating in a live discussion. I was able to accelerate much further in math and physics at OHS than I would have been at my previous school, taking Modern Physics and Diff Eq in my senior year.

My interest in astronomy grew into one in astrophysics when I took Physics C my sophomore year at OHS, which I think was the best science course I had yet taken at the time. Integrating physics and calculus with my existing knowledge of astronomy allowed me to self-study and learn a lot of astrophysics. I got important experience with astronomy research through a school-provided research seminar in the spring of 2017, which resulted in my developing a tool to solve for the orbits of binary star systems based on past observations, which then led to a published paper that fall. I also had a great research experience at Summer Science Program in summer 2017.

In 2016, off of a teacher recommendation, I decided to take the first round qualifying test for the US team for the IOAA. To my surprise I ended up qualifying for the second round, then the training camp and the US team for IOAA 2016. I won a silver medal that year in India, then a gold in Thailand the next year.

My IOAA coach this past fall recommended that I try the Physics Olympiad. This year I have been taking a couple of higher-level physics courses filling in the gaps in my knowledge necessary for the Physics Olympiad.

And so I find myself here! I am incredibly excited and honored to be a part of the US Physics Team this year!

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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