2015 CSW High School Chemistry Olympiad

Contributed by Regina Cody, 2015 Chemistry Olympiad Coordinator

Great news for the 2015 CSW High School Chemistry Olympiad!  One of our local students not only attended the Study Camp but was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the International Chemistry Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.  Read on; details later.

The U.S. High School Chemistry Olympiad is an annual program for high school students that has been organized by the American Chemical Society (ACS) since 1984.  The CSW is proud that it has participated in this Olympiad each year.  The CSW conducts its Chemistry Olympiad in two levels; the first level is the Local Section examination in March and the second level is the U.S. National examination in the latter half of April.  For the National exam, ACS allotted the CSW nineteen student places with the rule that a maximum of two students can be from one school.  The Local Section examination purchased from ACS was used to select these 19 students, and we work with the high school chemistry teachers for this purpose.  E-mails were sent to teachers asking for the nomination of up to fourteen students to take the Local Section exam, which is a multiple choice of 60 questions.  Teachers from thirteen high schools nominated a total of 129 students.  Nine of the high schools are in Maryland, two are in Virginia, and two private are in Washington, D.C.  The teachers administered the Local Section Exam to their students and returned the answer sheets to the CSW Coordinator, Regina Cody, for grading with the answer key from ACS.  From the results of this exam the 19 students from 12 schools were selected to take the National Exam for the CSW.  Because she had attended the 2014 Study Camp, Janice Ong from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology automatically qualified for the 2015 National Exam and was our 20th student.  All the students who took the Local Section Exam received Certificates of Participation—as did their teachers.  Those students who scored 40 or above received Certificates of Honors (40-49) or High Honors (50-60).

For the past twelve years, the Chemistry Department of the Catholic University of America had generously hosted the National Chemistry Olympiad Exam, but due to building renovations they could not do so this year.  CSW President Alan Anderson found us a new site for this exam at the Germantown Campus of Montgomery College.  The National Exam was given on April 17th in the new Bioscience Education Center.  This exam consists of three separate parts: one written multiple choice, one written essay response, and one laboratory practical.  The ACS has a separate grading site to grade the National exam.

This National exam was given in the same time period, April 14-20, across the U.S. to about 1000 students.  The 20 students who scored the highest on the National exam were invited by ACS to the Study Camp, which was held June 2-17 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.   Janice Ong from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Fairfax County, VA, attended the 2015 Study Camp; she had attended the 2014 Study Camp and also participated in the National Exam in 2013.  Toward the end of the Study Camp, Ms. Ong was selected as a member of the 2015 U.S. team to participate in the 47th International Chemistry Olympiad held July 20-28 in Baku, Azerbaijan, where she earned a silver medal.  Janice, congratulations on a very successful Olympiad!  She is now attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  The other three members of the U.S. team were David Wang of Monta Vista High School, CA, who won the seventh highest ranking gold medal as well as the highest score in the lab practical examination, and silver medalists Soorajnath Boominathan of Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, OK and Bryce Cai of Barrington High School, IL.  The USA Team competed against 286 students from 74 countries.

The twenty students who took the U. S. National Exam for the CSW are listed here along with their teachers and high schools.  These students and teachers received ACS Certificates.

The CSW thanks very much the individuals below who gave generously of their time and knowledge to make the National Exam day possible.

  • At the Germantown Campus of Montgomery College, Professor Scot Magnotta, Chair of the Chemical and Biological Sciences Department and Vivian Kruft, Lab Manager, who did all the preparation for the Lab Practical.
  • Dr. Elinor Santor, Retired, who helped proctor the written exams and assisted in the breakfast-lunch room.
  • Mr. Xu Duan, chemistry teacher at Holton-Arms School, who helped proctor the lab practical, did initial lab clean-up, and assisted in the breakfast-lunch room.
  • Dr. Alan Anderson, CSW President, who helped immensely in locating a new exam site and procured chemicals for the lab practical.

Photo credit: American Chemical Society