ACP junior is becoming a national science whiz - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

ACP junior is becoming a national science whiz

April 27th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
ACP junior is becoming a national science whiz

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

The first hint that Arizona College Prep High School junior Dean Brasen might be headed for a career in theoretical physics came while he was watching the hit TV comedy, Big Bang Theory.

If someone mentioned string theory, he said he’d go look it up. Chaos theory, the same. He might have even considered adopting Schrödinger’s cat.

“I tried to look up some of those, but I don’t have a deep understanding of it,” Dean said.

There’s not much in the science field that Dean doesn’t have a deep understanding of, at least for his age. The Chandler resident is currently waiting to find out if he’s a finalist for the USA Biolympiad.

He was one of 424 students nationally to make it to the semifinal round. Only 10 percent of them advance to be finalists. They will be announced at the end of this month.

But he’s not done. He plans to compete in the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad later this year. Oh, and he was in the USA Mathematical Olympiad earlier this year.

“He has won multiple awards at the city level, the district level, the state level … he is a math genius,” said Rachna Nath, who is Dean’s honors STEM research teacher at ACP. “And apparently a biology genius too.”

Dean said the semifinalist biology test covered pretty much every aspect of the field, from molecules and cells to animals, plants and organ systems. It was about 120 questions and he had only two hours to answer them.

“A lot of it is like AP biology type stuff, but a lot more advanced than that,” Dean said.

He said it was really difficult because they are trying to separate the best students in the nation.

A key to doing well, Dean said, is having good test-taking skills, where if you’re not sure of an answer, being able to figure out which of the multiple-choice answers to eliminate as possibilities to improve your chances of getting it right.

Dean did not reach the finals of the Mathematical Olympiad. He said you have to go four rounds to qualify for the international math Olympiad.

Dean said he took the first step to competing in the chemistry Olympiad at the end of March. He is currently preparing for the national test.

If he advances from that he’ll attend a camp with other finalists.

“I had a lot of interest in STEM, because my goal in high school was to learn as much as I could, because I know in college … there are not a lot of science fields that I’m going to focus on, because I’m going to narrow it down,” he said. “These competitions are an incentive to learn more about these types of things.”

It’s all so he could build the base so he can pursue theoretical physics as a career.

“For me, theoretical physics is like a way to understand how all of this stuff works pretty well,” Deann said. “That’s really something I want to do, investigate a lot more in the future.”