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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 Raymond Li

Raymond Li

San Diego, CA

Canyon Crest Academy

Grade: Junior


playing cards, playing tennis and basketball, playing videogames, watching Game of Thrones, reading science fiction, watching cool videos on futurism and science


Math Team, Physics Club, tennis team, Academic Team, The Alliance of Youth Leaders in the United States (AYLUS) (a volunteering organization), coach for Pacific Trails Middle School Science Olympiad.


USAPhO Silver (2017), Physics Bowl (2016, 2017, 2018), Distinguished Honor Roll in AMC 10 and 12 (2016, 2017, 2018), AIME qualifier (2015-2018), participant at Caltech-Harvey Mudd Math Competition, Harvard MIT Math tournament, Berkley Math Tournament, USACO Gold (2018), participant in local level of USNCO


My physics journey began not with physics, but with math. As a young kid, I loved learning about math. When I was about three or four, my grandparents taught me how to add and subtract. I recall teaching my little brother about counting numbers when I was just starting school. Fast forward a few years to fourth grade, and I started taking online courses on algebra. This accelerated math education provided the key to unlocking the world of Olympiad Math.

Like many of my peers, I got in to the world of Olympiads through Mathcounts and AMC 8. I, as well as all of my friends, raced forward to become the best mathlete. I actually got pretty good at math, but the pressure of having to perform well made me irrationally hate math. Now, I enjoy math for its beauty and rigor, but at the time, I just crumpled under the pressure.

At the same time, I competed in Science Olympiad. My earliest experiences with actual physics were through the events that Science Olympiad put together, like Simple Machines, Shock Value, and Crave the Wave. I learned about the basics of physics and all the wonderful phenomena that were derived from these basic rules. I truly enjoyed competing in Science Olympiad because the events were focused and exciting. Due to my break-up with math and my experience with Science Olympiad, I shifted my focus from math to physics.

I started learning mechanics in the beginning of ninth grade. Initially, I disliked it, as I didn’t “get” basic concepts like energy or momentum. I was clueless about the simplest equations and concepts in physics. If it weren’t for my parents, who encouraged me to continue studying physics, I probably would have quit and refocused my energy into math. However, as I learned more physics through self-study, I came to tolerate physics, not hating it, but also not appreciating its beauty. My attitude towards physics completely changed in the summer of my freshman year, when I attended a summer Physics C class. My teacher, Mr. Nandan Das, showed me the beauty of physics and the wide variety of situations that can be solved with just a few simple ideas. I was impressed by the elegance of physics equations and the fact that the equations pretty much always worked. I was amazed by the tricks he used to simplify complicated physics problems into thirty second solves. Because of this summer program, my passion for physics was ignited. Through high school, I continued studying physics and enjoyed learning about new concepts and problem solving techniques, making the USAPhO in sophomore year, and eventually making it into Physics Camp as a junior.

Physics Olympiad has given me a direction in high school, and has allowed me to focus my energy into something I enjoy. Without Physics Olympiad, I suspect that I would have had much less motivation to work and study. Of course, without plenty of help from classmates and teachers, I would not have had nearly the amount of success in Physics Olympiad that I currently have. I am especially thankful to my parents for supporting me the whole way in my physics journey. I hope that physics camp furthers my knowledge of physics, and I really look forward to the experience!

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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