May 22, 2024
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BCHA’s Doft Places 18th Worldwide at AAPT PhysicsBowl

(Courtesy of BCHA) Being top 20 in your school on a topic you’re passionate about is an amazing feeling. Achieving top 20 in your state is astounding. A top 20 placement nationwide is something most people only dream about accomplishing.

Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy of Stamford, Connecticut rising senior Noah Doft has taken that one massive step further, placing 18th worldwide out of nearly 9,300 high school students in this year’s AAPT PhysicsBowl.

“I was really not expecting this, but it’s really fantastic to hear I was top 20 and really cool to be able to do this,” said Doft. “It’s really hard to process it. It gives me a lot of confidence and makes me more secure that going into STEM is really what I want to do. This is the stuff that I want to do in college and what I want to do in my life outside of school. Physics is my favorite of the sciences. I love its connection to math and how the real world works and how it functions.”

This year’s AAPT PhysicsBowl consisted of a 40-question exam that had a small percentage of very high scores. Doft’s score of 35 in Division 1 was sixth-best in the country. The average score in Division 1 was 15.2.

Helping Doft find great joy in physics was taking a 10th-grade physics class taught by BCHA faculty member Dr. Paul Castle. “The conceptual physics in the way he taught it was incredibly useful for higher-level physics,” said Doft. “Dr. Castle focused more on understanding and not on memorization and that really helped so much in doing all this.”

Helping Doft learn more about advanced physics and also preparing him for the challenges of the PhysicsBowl was Dr. Zhanna Williams, founder of Stamford Polytechnic, a resource that BCHA made available specifically for Noah. Dr. Williams also has a degree in mechanical engineering.

“Noah’s accomplishments are a testament to his dedication towards his studies,” said Williams. “His hard work, determination, and scientific curiosity has defined him as the model student he has become. I am very proud to have worked with Noah, and his placing in the prestigious Physics Bowl is a cause for celebration for his family, his school, and his fellow students.”

Dr. Williams said that the PhysicsBowl, a worldwide contest sponsored by the American Association of Physics Teachers for students interested in physics, has thousands of high school students throughout the world participating.

“To be in the top of the rankings puts a student in the rare class of the world’s best physics students,” Dr. Williams said. “Rankings are noticed by colleges, scientific institutions, and technical companies, putting students like Noah in the spotlight of success.”

And don’t think Doft is stopping at physics. In addition to growing his knowledge of physics, Doft has been working weekly on linear algebra and its application into other fields. In the fall, Doft will be taking calculus three and four and couldn’t be more excited.

In fact, Doft is currently working on a math project to enter in the Steven H. Strogatz Prize for Math Communication.

“At BCHA, we pride ourselves on tailoring programs and charting academic pathways to challenge and support the diverse interests and talents of our students,” said Rabbi Tzvi Bernstein, head of school. “Helping a student like Noah Doft, who is so passionate and motivated to accomplish great things in the math and science disciplines achieve his goals and dreams, is fundamental to our mission and contributes to an exciting learning environment for students and faculty alike.”

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