Drake Physics Exam

While most students were enjoying their day off after completing their first semester finals, these students were voluntarily spending their time at the school. Jan. 17, elite physics students from Ames High participated in a test known as the Drake Physics Exam. The test is a multiple-choice exam that focuses on concepts that are typically taught during the first semester of physics. The prize for the top place finisher is a four-year, unrestricted full-ride scholarship to Drake University. Receiving the top score on the test is a prestigious honor that Ames High students have been pursuing since the mid-70s. This year’s winner is none other than the soft-spoken Ames High junior Louis Yang. Yang beat out 644 other participants from Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota to win the prize. Yang credited his success to taking a physics class at Iowa State University, as well as taking the test as a sophomore. He also said, “I was a bit lucky to do well.” Yang’s performance is the third in a line of impressive Ames standouts. Senior Mark Fang and 2006 graduate Josh Maloney won the competition last year and the year before, respectively. Ames High A.P. Physics teacher and exam proctor Michael Lazere credited the successes to the fact that “the three students who won were exceptionally bright.” Just as impressive as their solo performances is the Ames High’s dominance on a wider scale. According to Lazere, Ames has had about 26 first place finishers in the last 35 years. This year, two more students were in the top 10, and nine placed in the top 50 of all participants. Overall, 75 percent of Ames students scored above average and 50 percent scored in the top 25 percent. So apart from the exceptionally bright students, why has Ames as a whole fared so much better than other schools in this venue? Fang cited A.P. classes and tests, online options, and the Post Secondary Enrollment Options Act at Iowa State. “Ames High really strives to offer as many ways for advanced learning as possible.” Lazere also noted that it may have to do with our community as a whole. “Because we live in a town with a university that is known for its excellence in science and engineering programs, Ames High has a disproportionate number of students who excel in math and science.” If this is true, then Ames High can expect success for years to come. But can Ames High expect the victory streak to continue? “I don’t know if we can continue to win, but we will always do well,” Lazere said.