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The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

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Humans Of Venice: Joshua Holmberg Passes First Round Of Physics Competition

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Humans of Venice is an ongoing series that focuses on showcasing the exceptional personalities, wisdom, and stories of the Venice community. In this edition, Co-New Media Editor Eve Cordova interviews senior Joshua Holmberg about his experience in the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Physics Competition.

The AAPT Competition consists of a 25 question, multiple choice, timed test on typical physics lessons which is administered in school for the first round and a six-question free response test in the next round. The next step is a training camp with 20 finalists with only five making the national physics team.

Josh Holmberg has made it past the first round and is awaiting his score on the second test.

Eve: “So tell me a little about yourself.”

Joshua: “Well, I’ve always been considered an academic person, but I really have a variety of interests. I love to play sports, and I’m on the volleyball team. I also like to write music or do some improv in my free time, specifically on piano.”

Eve: “Oh cool, I’m a musician myself. You mentioned you are an academic person and clearly have some sort of affinity for physics, what interests you about this field?”

Joshua: “I think there’s just really something I find super interesting about being able to predict things. You can predict that using all sorts of kinematics equations and mechanics principles and I think that’s really interesting being able to predict the physical motion of objects.”

Eve: “What physics related topic do you find most interesting currently?”

Joshua: “I’ve just started learning it, but I find it really interesting how something as seemingly complex as fluid mechanics can be understood and predicted with a few equations. It can give understanding about how the weather works and the flow of ocean currents. It also can be applied to how air has to flow through an aircraft engine.”

Eve: “What has your experience with the AAPT Competition been like?”

Joshua: “I first heard about it last year taking AP Physics 1 with Mr. Kitajima. A bunch of my friends and I agreed a month or two before to take this test. I scored 14 out of 25 while the qualifying score was 17, so I narrowly missed the cut off last year. 

“The fact that I was somewhat close made me hopeful, and when next year came, I got to studying a little more strategically to give myself a better chance.”

Eve: “Well it seems to have worked, you’ve passed the first round. What do you hope to get from this?”

Joshua: “Well, the top hope would be to get past the next round and go to Maryland for a training camp and then make the physics team. I’m hoping to at least get a pretty good score on this one and see what I’m able to do when it comes to advanced physics that I’ve never done.”

Eve: “Well here’s to hoping, this seems like a really tight competition. You said a physics team, is that like a national physics team?”

Joshua: “Yeah, so there’s like some ten-thousands of people that take the first one, but there’s a few hundred that pass that in the country.”

“Then there’s the second test which is a six question free response test. The top 20 of those will go to Maryland this summer for a training camp and then of those 20, five will be picked to represent the US for the international Physics Olympiad.” 

Eve: “I hope you get to seize this opportunity of a lifetime. Where do you see yourself in the future with this experience under your belt?”

Joshua: “I think the fact that I’ve been able to have a chance at something as rigorous as this test will lead me in the future to really get into physics.

“I will be ready to put in a lot of effort and know what it’s like to take something as difficult as this.”

Eve: “What was your favorite moment of this experience?”

Joshua: “Well, I guess it would be showing up late to my 1st period physics class after the test. Everyone started clapping and I had no idea what was going on, and that’s when Mr. Kitajima told me that I was the first in Venice history to pass this first round.”

Eve: “Wow, first in Venice history, that’s an honor.”

Joshua: “Well it was only offered over three years ago.”

Eve: “A first is a first! Thanks for sharing your experience.”

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