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



Meet the Team

Photo of Michelle Song

Michelle Song

Traveling Team

Fremont, CA

Mission San Jose High School

Grade: Senior


reading and geeking out about aesthetics and design and its relationship to history/econ, binge watching Air Crash Investigation, eating loquats off the tree, dabbling in art and discourse and a little bit of literature, soaking up random bits of knowledge that I’ll never need


Math Club, GSA, MathCounts team coaches, Circuitry Club


USAJMO(2015,2016), USAMO(2017), MOP(2015, 2017 invitee), USAPhO Semifinals (HM 2016, Gold 2017 and 2018), IPhO (Silver, 2017)


Here is my love letter to physics.

Thank you, physics, for stoking my burning childhood imagination. What and Where are we? Is there more to the world than what I can see? Impatiently, I devoured book after book about the universe, from the tiniest quark to the ginormous-est black hole. It was hardly serious study, but it made my eyes glimmer with curiosity.

Thank you, physics, for making math powerful as well as beautiful. In elementary and middle school, I learned to love math as a game of numbers, elegant and immaculate in its abstract form. Put it in the hands of Newton or Maxwell, however, and it jolts the earth and moves mountains and bathes the sky in a sea of light. In the end, this is what drew me back to physics in high school – the allure of equations transformed by algebra and wizardry into raw physicality.

Thank you for allowing me to find so many people just as passionate as I am! I had always thought I’d be too tired after a day of lectures and exams to continue talking about physics over the dinner table, but Physics Camp last year proved me wrong. We also built a blanket fort! I never knew a bunch of nerds could be this down-to-earth and cohesive. Those I met at the IPhO were just as incredible, and I quickly found myself surrounded by international friends.

Speaking of which, thank you, physics, for taking me across the world and back! On the last day of camp last year, I learned in front of a whole crowd of campers and parents that I would be going Indonesia. I was amazed! At the time, I had only been seriously studying physics for less than two years. But I trusted our coaches’ judgement and buckled down for a month of training, and soon I was strapped into an airplane seat chasing the setting sun. The next week in Thailand was just as grueling as advertised, but that just made the excursions and friendships that followed all the sweeter.

From you, physics, I learned to eagerly take the world apart until I find the cogs and gears that make it run. I approach my other interests with the same investigative spirit. Just as surely as Kepler’s laws sweep out a planet’s path in the heavens, the fickle tides of cash and culture sculpt everything from the art we make to the clothes we wear. Here lies my new fascination – it is physics in spirit though not in name. In recent years, the forces of social and economic change have gotten stronger and faster as technological advancements come at breakneck speeds. I want to be there on the front lines, analyzing and predicting the Why, the How, and the Who of our ever-turning world.

(Also, a huge thanks to:

Paul, Dave, JJ, and all the other team coaches for helping us so much!

Mr. Geschke and our schools physics department for running the F=ma and USAPhO exams in their own free time!

The physics I love was largely shaped by you. Thank YOU for this wonderful journey! <3 )

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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