2012 team

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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

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Photo of Michael Wells

Michael Wells

Weston, MA

Home School

Grade: Junior


Piano, Piano competitions, Monterey Bay aquarium volunteer guide, Basketball, Magic


School science team (Boston University Academy), School math team, Soccer school team, Basketball school team, Charity piano performance, Shandong, China


ABRSM Royal Schools of Music Piano Grade 8 (with Merit) Dec 2011. Grade 8 is the most advanced grade in the ABRSM exams, 6th United Young Musician International Piano Competition (2011), First Place, San Francisco, Second Place 2011 U.S. Physics Bowl Competition, U.S. Department of Energy 2010 National Science Bowl Massachusetts Regional Team Finalists (2nd place), National Latin Exam- Gold medal 2010 and 2011, 3rd U.S. Beacon International Youth Piano competition (2007), First Place, Beijing, China, 2012 AMC12 - AIME invitation, AP National Scholar with Distinction


I was born in Chester which is a town in the North of England. A long time ago Chester was a Roman fort. My grandfather told me that some people say that you can still here the footsteps of Roman soldiers. For a while this made it a little difficult for me to go to sleep. Later, in first grade, I moved with my family to the United States. Luckily the footsteps stayed behind.

My father bought me a small telescope when I was eight and we looked at Mars together. It took us a long time to find and all I could see was a little red circle that danced about randomly. The circle appeared to quickly move because of the Earth's rotation. This was my first experience of Relativity! It was very different from looking at pictures of Mars taken from the Hubble space telescope but somehow a lot more real because I was doing it for myself. I also liked to play with water in the sink by putting a spoon under a tap and watching the ripples in the sheets of water move as I changed the angle of the spoon. Much later I found out that the motion of water is very difficult for scientists to understand because of turbulence.

I like science because things that look simple like turbulence can have really complicated explanations and things that look complicated like the falling of an apple can have a simple explanation. Once I went to the Kennedy Space Center where I heard an astronaut talk. He told us that the acceleration of the rocket is highest just before the engine is shut off. I asked why so he explained that the fuel has been burnt up so there is less mass to accelerate.

I have been very fortunate to have been inspired by some great science and math teachers. In 6th grade I was taught AP calculus by Dr Chen and after I moved to Massachusetts Mr Gibbons, the Principal at Weston Middle School, arranged for me to take AP Physics C with Dr Korsunsky at Weston High School while I was still in 7th grade. Dr Korsunsky is an outstanding teacher who gave me a thorough grounding in Mechanics and Electromagnetism. Later I had the opportunity to take Classical Mechanics and Modern Physics courses at Boston University.

My favorite non-academic activity is playing the piano. I think learning the piano and learning physics have a lot in common. Both involve learning a small number of fundamental operations which can however become very complicated when put together. Both also involve a long period of practice with basic exercises before creating your own work. The main difference is that with Physics some of the piano keys at the high end of the scale are missing!

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