2019 Physics Olympics Team Banner

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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 Kevin Liu

Kevin Liu

Carmel, IN

Carmel High School

Grade: Senior



Hobbies

Browsing Reddit/Quora/Youtube, Geometry Dash, chess, reading

Clubs

Math Club, Science Bowl

Experience

USAPhO gold (2019), silver (2018); MOP qualifier (2016-2018); IMO selection group qualifier (2017, 2019); USAMO qualifier (2017-2019), HM (2018); USAJMO qualifier (2013-2016), winner (2016), HM (2014); National Science Bowl top 6 team (2017, 2019), top 16 team (2018); USNCO top 20 (2017), top 50 (2018); National Economics Challenge Adam Smith division 6th place team (2018); ARML 3rd place (2017), 4th place (2016, 2018); HMMT 5th place (2018), 9th place (2019); PUMaC 4th place (2018), 6th place (2016); MATHCOUNTS National Champion (2015), runner-up (2014); Physics Bowl 9th overall (2019), 1st in region (2018); Rose-Hulman High School Math Contest 1st place (2015-2018); ELMO bronze (2016); WUCT 1st place (2016), 3rd place (2017), 4th place (2018); World’s Top Physics Hoop Shooter (2017)

Bio

As my friends and blog readers will tell you, I tend to enjoy writing (and talking) about myself. However, writing this bio turned out to be harder than I initially thought. The story of how I came to be involved in physics competitions is less structured and harder to put into words than, say, the story of how I came to be involved in math competitions. I showed talent and interest in math quite early on in my education, and my parents were more than willing to provide the resources necessary for me to study the subject further on my own time. Towards the end of elementary school, I was introduced to the world of math competitions, and the rest is history.

I have been participating in math competitions almost as long as I can remember, but nearly the opposite is true for physics. My first taste of physics came during my last year of middle school, when I started studying sciences outside of math. I didn’t delve too deeply into the subject or spend any significant amount of time on it, choosing instead to focus on studying chemistry along with math. It was only as I progressed through my years of high school that I began to devote more of my attention to physics. As a sophomore, I started studying physics to make up for our National Science Bowl team’s lack of a physics person. That was the same year I signed up for the F=ma for the first time. I had only been seriously studying physics for a few months, so I didn’t expect much. Despite this, I still failed to meet my expectations; a registration mistake prevented me from taking the test at all.

My experience (or rather, the lack thereof) with physics competitions as a sophomore was rather discouraging, but that didn’t stop me from signing up for the F=ma again as a junior. It helped that I was taking AP Physics C, taught by Mr. James, that year, which helped fill in the gaps in my knowledge, and was gradually losing interest in chemistry at the same time. I continued to devote most of my energies to math competitions, but physics was overtaking chemistry as my next favorite subject. That year, I qualified for USAPhO and earned a silver medal, far surpassing my expectations. I found that the computational abilities and problem solving skills I had gained from years of math competitions greatly helped me when doing physics. Indeed, physics is the subject most similar to math, so it is no surprise that these were the two subjects I ended up pursuing. Of course, there is no way I would be able to achieve what I have on my own; the support of my parents and teachers was instrumental to my success. I will admit that I was rather surprised to be invited to the U.S. Physics Team this year, but I am grateful that the AAPT has provided me this opportunity. I hope that with this experience, I will be able to end my high school years on a high note.

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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 U.S. Physics Team, please contact AAPT's Programs department at 301-209-3340 or programs@aapt.org