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Ladue Student Receives 2010 Siemens Award for Advanced Placement

Whiz Kid: Aojia Zhao is one of two students in Missouri to receive this recognition.

Name: Aojia Zhao

Grade: Senior

School: Ladue Horton Watkins High School

Accomplishment: Named one of two Missouri state winners of the 2010 Siemens Award for Advanced Placement in math and science courses.

Key to awesomeness:  Aojia’s passion for math and science is demonstrated in his extracurricular activities as well as his coursework, where he has been taking Advanced Placement® courses since his sophomore year.

“I took Calculus BC and Physics Mechanics as a sophomore,” Aojia said. “My junior year I took Biology and Chemistry. For the two AP courses of Statistics and Physics Electricity and Magnetism I self-studied and then just took the tests.”

As a senior, he’s taking a couple courses, Differential Equations and Physics Vibrations and Waves, through one-on-one work with a teacher, Dr. John Pais, since these courses are not offered at high school.

Aojia is a member of Science Olympiad™ and will be heading to the state competition in April since he and his team won at regionals. “If we’re one of the top two teams at state then we’ll qualify for nationals in May,” he said. “We’ve gone to nationals for the past four years.” 

He will compete in four events including astronomy, in particular galaxies and deep sky variable stars; chemistry lab; optics; and building a model helicopter out of balsa wood and plastic film.

“The best part of optics is there’s a part of the competition called the Laser Chute where they give you a laser, a maze and two mirrors. Against the clock you have to calculate the mathematical angles of the mirrors and the path of the laser,” Aojia said. “We wrote a program to calculate the position of the mirrors so that all we have to do the day of competition is enter the data and set up the mirrors.”

Aojia recently received administrative approval to organize a math club at his high school. As president of this new club, he informs members of upcoming competitions and sends them problems as brain teasers. He also participates on the debate team, focusing on policy debate, and is a member of Student Congress which is another form of debating. In addition Aojia is on his school’s Quiz Bowl team which went to nationals last year.

Aojia has already received a “likely” acceptance letter from several universities including Washington University and Yale which offered him a full scholarship. He’s also considering MIT. Aojia intends to study mechanical engineering.

Want to nominate a Patch Whiz Kid?  Send his or her name, age, information and a JPG photo to james.baer@patch.com.

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