Twenty high school students reach finals for US International Chemistry Olympiad Team

Twenty of the nation’s top high school chemistry students, representing 12 states, will compete for a spot on the U.S. team in the 38th annual International Chemistry Olympiad in Gyeongsan, Republic of Korea, July 2-11, 2006.

Seventeen boys and three girls, chosen from a pool of nearly 10,000 high school students nationwide, will spend June 4-18 preparing at a study camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. During the camp, the students will receive college-level training, with an emphasis on organic chemistry, through a series of lectures, problem-solving exercises, lab work and testing. At the conclusion, a four-member U.S. team will be named to participate in the international contest with teams from more than 60 other countries. Each country sends four contestants and two coaches to the host country for seven to 10 days of exams, lectures, recreation and tours.

Sponsored by the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, the U.S. team has been a strong competitor at the international event. The 2005 U.S. team won three silver medals and one bronze medal. In 1999 and 2000, a member of the American team won the top gold medal at the Olympiad.

"The American Chemical Society is proud to support the U.S. team," said E. Ann Nalley, Ph.D., ACS President. "These students are among the best and brightest and they represent America’s future. As a nation, we need to do more to strengthen our investment in science education for all students if we are to realize their promise and maintain our edge in the global economy."

"Students will be immersed in chemistry during the first two weeks of June where they’ll listen to lectures presented by the mentors and academy personnel as well as perform numerous experiments and take multiple theoretical exams," said Roxie Allen, head mentor for the group and a chemistry teacher at St. John’s School, Houston, Texas. "The level of instruction is comparable to upper level college chemistry in many cases. These students have an incredible capacity to learn chemistry and we’re going to capitalize on it as we seek to make the 2006 team as strong as possible."

Other mentors for the program are John Kotz , Ph.D., Distinguished Teaching Professor, Emeritus, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, State University of New York, Oneonta, N.Y.; and Kara Pezzi , chemistry teacher, Appleton East High School, Appleton, Wis., and science program leader for the Appleton Area School District.

The International Chemistry Olympiad originated with Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary in 1968. Soon, other Eastern European countries joined the event, and Western Europe began participating in 1974. The first U.S. team competed in 1984, winning one silver and two bronze medals.

The American Chemical Society has sponsored the American team annually since the United States joined the Olympiad. Principal funding is through the Society’s Othmer Olympiad Endowment, with additional support from the U.S. Air Force Academy; IBM Research; Merck Publishing Group; Texas Instruments, Inc.; W.H. Freeman & Company; McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; Advanced Chemistry Development; Thomson, Bruce/Cole; Carolina Biological Supply Company; Flinn Scientific, Inc.; Fisher Scientific; Pearson Prentice Hall; Sigma Chemical Company; and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The 20 U.S. finalists who will participate in this year’s study camp and compete for positions on the Olympiad team are:

STATE, CITY NAME HIGH SCHOOL
Ala., Huntsville Matthew Nubbe Huntsville High School
Calif., Rolling Hills Miles Honkawa* Palos Verdes Peninsula High School
Calif., Bakersfield Justin Koh Stockdale High School
Calif., Placentia Patricia Widener Valencia High School
Calif., San Diego Xiaoran (Taylor) Yi* Westview High School
Colo., Boulder Ryan Hamerly* Boulder High School
Minn., Plymouth Rohan Agrawal Wayzata High School
N.J., Manalapan Andrew Freddo* Manalapan High School
N.J., Princeton Junction Sofia Izmailov W. Windsor-Plainsboro H.S. South
N.J., Princeton Junction Peter Wei* W. Windsor-Plainsboro H.S. South
N.J., Hackensack Christopher Kennedy* Academy Adv. of Science & Tech.
N.J., Hackensack Brian Lee Academy Adv. of Science & Tech.
N.J., East Brunswick Alex Zozula* East Brunswick High School
N.C., Cary Mark Hallen Cary Academy
N.D., Grand Forks Greg Brockman* Red River High School
Ohio, Broadview Heights Brian Michal Brecksville-Broadview Hts. H.S.
Pa.., Harrisburg Michael Blaisse* Bishop McDevitt High School
Tenn., Chattanooga Benjamin Jones McCallie School
Texas, Bellaire Jonathan Chang Bellaire High School
Va., Charlottesville Sydney Creutz* Albemarle High School

*Student participated in last year’s study camp.

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The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 158,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.


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