Sophomore Qualifies for USA Physics Olympiad (USAPhO) Exam
Eddie Qiao ’23 is one of the top 400 scorers from across the country on the qualifying exam, known as the F=ma Exam, who advanced to the next round of competition this week for high school students who hope to ultimately make the US Physics team.
The name of the initial exam, F=ma, references Newton’s second law of motion that “describes the relationship between an object’s mass and the amount of force needed to accelerate it.”
That’s a 75-minute exam with 25 multiple choice questions focusing on mechanics. Now that Eddie has successfully put that step in the rearview mirror, he will take the USAPhO Exam, a “free-response, calculus-based exam covering all topics in introductory physics: mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, fluids, relativity, waves, and nuclear and atomic physics. There are two 90-minute parts in the exam with a total of six problems.”
"The USAPhO exam isn't an end goal. It's the second stage of the selection process to find high school students to compete for the US Physics Olympiad team. Any high school student may sign up to take the F=ma exam at their school. This year we had approximately 10-15 students take the F=ma exam, and Eddie was the only one with a score high enough to qualify for the next round. It's a pretty great achievement to make it to this stage," explains Science Department Chair Ben Heldt.
Sponsored by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the results of the USAPhO are “used as the basis for selection of the 20 members of the U.S. Physics Team. These students, from schools all over the United States, travel to the University of Maryland-College Park at the end of May for the annual U.S. Physics Team Training Camp. There they engage in ten days of intense studying, testing and problem solving,” according to the AAPT website.
The Bishop’s School is an independent, coeducational college-preparatory day school for students in grades six through twelve who live throughout San Diego County. Founded in 1909, the School is affiliated with the Episcopal church.