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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 Eddie Chen

Eddie Chen

Plainsboro, NJ

West Windsor - Plainsboro High School N

Grade: Sophomore


Violin, Table Tennis, Reading, Music Theory


Math Club, Physics Club, Varsity Fencing Team, Philharmonic Orchestra


US Physics Camp (2019), USAPhO Qualifier (2017-2019), USAPhO Silver Medal (2018), USAMO Qualifier (2019), USAJMO Qualifier (2017-2018), AIME Qualifier (2015-2019), USACO Gold, PUPC Gold Medal (2018), AP Physics C Mechanics Perfect Score (2018), CJMEA High School Regions Orchestra


I did not become motivated and serious about math until middle school. In fact, I did not strive to excel in anything before middle school, partly because I thought that I was already very good at every subject. This idea quickly dissolved when I realized that some of my peers knew topics in math that I didn’t know, and I was amazed at the sheer size and depth of mathematics. I decided to explore more. After a few months in 6th grade, to my surprise, I got in my school’s MathCounts team. I then went on taking the AMC 10 for the first time, and just barely qualified for the AIME. Both these results were quite unexpected and gave me extra motivation and confidence to study more for the next year.

However, something else happened that year. My dad introduced me to physics, and I was astounded by how the real world can be described with math and physics laws, the two subjects I had considered very different and separate before. I remember first learning about projectile motion and using algebra to calculate collision velocities, playing with Chinese chess pieces by hitting them against each other. I was especially intrigued by Newton’s cradle I made with the pieces, observing how the stationary middle pieces “transferred momentum” to the end pieces. I also remember when I learned that everything is made of atoms, I was haunted by that idea and even felt depressed for a period of time when I realized that I was just a collection of atoms. Nevertheless, I continued to experiment in physics, for example, predicting the height of the tallest tree in our backyard by throwing a stone on top and count how many seconds it took for the round trip. I kept figuring out ways to apply my limited physics knowledge to the world around me — from measuring the time difference between swings with different lengths to explaining the different tones of blown glass bottles with varying levels of water.

Even after all these years, I am still amazed by the way mathematics can be applied to physics. Albert Einstein once said, “God does not play dice.” Events do not just happen randomly in this universe - even in quantum mechanics the wave function itself can be accurately determined - and I love physics because it takes advantage of this, using math and logic to make predictions. While other sciences such as chemistry and biology can describe the world as well, they can all eventually be reduced to physics principles. Physics is the most fundamental of the sciences, and it must be a wonder to understand it completely.

The news that I was invited to physics camp came in as a big surprise, since I didn’t think I performed well enough on the USAPhO exam as I didn’t have time to finish what I could have. However, now that I have made it, I am eager to do physics with awesome professors and talented peer students at the camp.

I would like to thank my parents for instilling in me my curiosity for physics, my physics teacher Mr. Zubrzycki for allowing me to read his college textbooks, Mrs. Celin for spending time to proctor the tests, and Dr. Liu for helping me study physics outside of school. Lastly, thank you to all those that have supported me!

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