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Ten local students qualify for prestigious national physics competition, chance to represent U.S. internationally

Press release from Alachua County Public Schools

Ten Alachua County Public School students have qualified for the United States of America Physics Olympiad (USAPhO) this year, out of just 13 public and private high school students statewide. Eight of the local qualifying students attend Buchholz High School, which had the third-highest number of qualifiers in the nation this year. Two Eastside High School students also qualified for the prestigious competition.

To qualify for the USAPhO, the students were among the top scorers nationally on a challenging exam called the F=ma, a 75-minute test with 25 questions focused on algebra-based mechanics. Across the nation, 333 of the highest-scoring students are now eligible to take another grueling exam covering a variety of physics-related topics, including mechanics, thermodynamics, relativity, and nuclear physics. 

The top 20 finishers in the national competition, which will be held later this month, will be invited to the U.S. Physics Team camp for intensive training. The goal is to earn a spot on the five-person team that will represent the U.S. at the International Physics Olympiad, which will be held this year in Lithuania in mid-July.

The local students who have qualified for the national competition are: Ahan Mishra, Jeffrey Xue, Xiya Zhou, Kevin He, Samuel Kim, John Sin, Jake Frazer, and Sam Cohen, Buchholz High School; Bill Zhao and Artharva Pathak, Eastside High School.

“The advanced STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) training these students are getting in middle school has prepared them to succeed at a very high level in high school,” said Marc Moody, Buchholz High School science coach.

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