Raghav Ramanujam, a sixth grade student at Foothills Middle School in Arcadia, California, placed third at the 2015 National You Be The Chemist Challenge® on June 22 at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. It was Ramanujam’s first time competing at the national level.
The You Be The Chemist Challenge®, created by the Chemical Educational Foundation® (CEF), is a quiz-bowl-style academic competition that aims to engage middle school students in learning important chemistry concepts and their real-world applications. The competition was created in 2004 as a means to spark student interest in the sciences and prepare students for future study and scientific careers. The competition is also an opportunity for members of the chemical industry to interact with and enrich science education opportunities for schools and organizations in their communities.
Nearly 40,000 students participated in the local and state levels of the Challenge program during the 2014-2015 school year. The top 36 students, one from each of the participating states and territories, qualified to compete in the national competition and received an expenses-paid trip to Philadelphia.
The 2015 National Challenge participants battled through eleven thrilling rounds of chemistry questions before a national champion was crowned. Daniel Liu, a seventh-grader representing Ohio, Aum Upadhyay, an eighth-grader representing Washington, and Rafay Ashary, an eighth-grader representing Texas, placed first, third and fourth, respectively. The top four placing students received academic scholarships totaling $18,500 and TI-84+ graphing calculators, while all participants took home medals, Thames & Kosmos CHEM3000 chemistry kits, and gift certificates to the Discovery Channel Store.
The competition brought together over 350 chemical industry representatives, family members, and educators in a celebration of science-related careers and the role of chemistry in everyday life. Deborah Borg, president of Dow USA at The Dow Chemical Company, addressed the crowd at the celebration dinner following the competition, and encouraged the students to stay curious, be innovative, and challenge themselves to create solutions to global problems. The Dow Chemical Company sponsored the competition and celebration dinner at the highest possible level.
“From spaceships to cell phones, lipstick to green energy, chemists have a tangible impact on our everyday lives,” stated John Rice, executive director of CEF. “We are excited by the passion that these student competitors have displayed at such a young age for chemistry and the sciences, and look forward to the ways in which their discoveries and inventions will change the world around them. It is our goal to inspire even more students each year through programs that encourage curiosity, hands-on exploration, and self-motivated learning.”
Over the course of the three-day event, participants visited the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University, spent a day at The Franklin Institute, and were celebrated at a reception and dinner held at the National Constitution Center, where students had the opportunity to interact with business leaders, chemists, and science educators.
The National Challenge and all of its surrounding events are organized by CEF and sponsored by members of the chemical industry.