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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 Raymond Li

Raymond Li

San Diego, CA

Canyon Crest Academy

Grade: Senior


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, coach for Pacific Trails Middle School Science Olympiad


Physics Camp (2018), USAPhO Gold (2018), 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 (2nd place team), Harvard MIT Math tournament, Berkley Math Tournament (5th place team), USACO Gold (2019), participant in local level of USNCO, National AP Scholar (2017)


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 became disillusioned by the unintuitive nature of certain math concepts. 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 look forward to returning to Physics Camp!

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Contact Information

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