Kevin Chen, a rising sophomore at Bishop's School in La Jolla, placed 2nd in the Southern California Region for Division I of AAPT Physics Bowl.
This contest, which is hosted by the American Association of Physics Teachers annually, involves over 10,000 students who take a 40-question, 45 minute multiple choice test under the supervision of their respective schools. The questions that comprise this exam are based off of concepts and topics typically covered in a high school physics course.
The AAPT also divides this competition into divisions based on a student's experience with physics; Division I is for first-year physics students, while Division II is for second-year physics students. Each Division is made up of 14 Regions from across the country and is set up in a way that allows for schools in each region to compete against one another.
Kevin began learning physics this past school year and chose to become involved with the Physics Bowl to further extend his learning on the subject.
“Competing just felt like the next step,” said Kevin. “It made me consider new aspects about the concepts I was already familiar with and help reinforce the facts that I already knew.”
In order to prepare for the exam, Kevin spent a lot of time familiarizing himself with the material and equations that would be covered.
“Participating in a competition requires that I know the material well enough so that I can complete problems quickly and without mistakes,” said Kevin. “One of the teachers from my school set up at time after school where we would do practice tests, which helped me become adjusted to the pace and style of the questions.”
Kevin’s interest in Physics comes from his fascination with the subject’s ability to describe the world through precise calculations.
“One of the major driving forces behind me wanting to expand my knowledge of physics I my urge to remove the limitations you have to deal with at the beginning. You deal with perfect, ideal systems that do not closely reflect reality. But as you learn more, you start adding more complicated concepts,” said Kevin.
Kevin’s favorite aspect of Physics is that most of the concepts can be easily visualized.
For students who are looking to participate in the Physics Bowl or in other science competitions in the future, Kevin’s advises to not be afraid of material that is difficult to understand.
“Don’t avoid the things that you have trouble with. You won’t be able to avoid them in contests and figuring them out will really help you. Practice a lot of problems that involve concepts you’re not sure of and see if you can get someone to explain them to you if you need the help,” said Kevin.
Aside from science competitions, Kevin participates in other extra-curricular activities. He participates in his school’s community orchestra and plays for the varsity Tennis team.