Three students from Goderich District Collegiate Institute (GDCI) are the national champions of a chemistry competition for grades 5-8 students called You Be the Chemist Challenge (link opens in a new tab). Students Sarah Ball, Logan Forrest, and Riley Arthur entered the competition as Grade 8 students, with the guidance of science and math teacher Adrian Rau.
The team competed against four other Canadian teams and many American and even Chinese teams in a virtual competition which happened in February and March of 2021.
Sarah’s mother, GDCI science teacher Melanie Ball, originally introduced the idea to Mr. Rau, and the students were intrigued when they heard about it. “I… thought that it would be cool to be more challenged in science and learn more about chemistry,” said Sarah.
The contest consisted of two competitions: academic and video. To prepare, Sarah, Logan and Riley learned chemical terms and theories that were more advanced than their grade level. On competition day, they individually answered multiple choice and short-answer questions, and their scores were tabulated together.
The next step was to collaborate on a video presentation “exploring the intersection between the role of chemistry in their community and sustainability” (ybtc.ca). The three students chose to focus their presentation on hydrocarbons, titling it “Hydrocarbon Emissions and Their Effects on Plant Life.”
Victoria Dean is the Programs Integrations Coordinator with Responsible Distribution Canada, the organization that facilitates the You Be The Chemist program in Canada. She agreed that the GDCI team certainly excelled in the competition and she was happy to have them representing Canada in the broader international competition.
Ms. Dean was happy to hear that word of the competition was spreading at AMDSB, and hopes that more teams from across Canada will participate in the competition in the years to come.
Registration for the 2021-2022 competition is open now through December 31. Visit ybtc.ca (link opens in new tab) for more information.
When asked what is next for them, the students indicated that they are interested in continuing their chemistry studies. Says Logan, “I like chemistry because it's the only discipline where you can turn something toxic into something that can save someone's life.” Sarah says she would like to dig further into the concepts her team learned very quickly for this competition, and plans to take as many science courses as she can in high school.