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He has a flair for physics Award: A Cockeysville 16-year-old's talent in -- and love for -- math and science results in a $3,000 national scholarship.


Physics comes naturally to Jason Oh.

The Gilman School junior is the grandson and nephew of physicists and finds physics "about as much fun as any school subject can be," especially when he's learning something new. "That's what I love to do."

Physics is so enjoyable -- "there's an elegance about physics," Oh says -- that he's spending part of his winter break in a lab at the Johns Hopkins University, working as an intern with Chia-ling Chien in experimental physics.

His talent for physics, as well as math and other sciences, won the Cockeysville resident the distinction of being one of 25 students across the country -- and one of two in Maryland -- with the highest cumulative scores on Advanced Placement tests in mathematics and science.

Oh received one of the first Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement, including a $3,000 college scholarship, at ceremonies in Washington this month. The other Maryland recipient is Sarah Iams of Bethesda, a student at Montgomery Blair High School.

The Siemens Foundation, with headquarters in New York City, promotes science, mathematics and technology education in this country through competitions, research studies and educational programs.

Award was a surprise

The award was a surprise for Oh, who says he "wasn't aware of its existence" until notified that he was a winner. Because of a partnership with Educational Testing Service and the College Board, which administers the AP tests, Siemens was able to find the 25 high-fliers by looking at test results.

"This is a very, very exceptional kid," says Chien, adding that some of the work Oh has been doing with him since last summer is at graduate-school level. "He is exceptional, no doubt."

College plans

Oh has another year and a half at Gilman, where he has been a student for 11 years. He hopes to go to a college "with a strong physics department" to pursue physics theory. He also hopes to short-cut his undergraduate studies by accruing AP credits toward college work, through the accelerated courses and tests he has completed and continues to take.

"I'm hoping to go as fast as possible. I could go in [to college] with 1 1/2 years done," Oh said.

He has taken AP tests in calculus, statistics and two levels of physics. This year he is studying AP chemistry and computer science, and he said he intends to take five or six AP tests in the spring.

The AP program is more than tests. At its core are rigorous college-level courses, usually restricted to high achievers.

Students usually take AP courses in lieu of regular or honors-level subjects and then take tests in those subjects to qualify for college credit. Taking the course is not a prerequisite for the test, but students must pass the test to receive credit. Not all colleges and universities give entering freshmen full credit for their AP work.

Still time for the cello

Despite his heavy schedule and the internship that takes a couple of hours a day, Oh has time to play the cello.

He also plays sports, but when it comes to relaxation, he's specific: "Whenever I have the time, I'll watch a movie. And I like sleeping."

Pub Date: 12/29/98

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