Contest seeks to find ‘Olympic level’ young chemists

March 8, 2010 — by David Eng

Which technique can be used to determine the number of components in a plant pigment?

This question from the 2009 Chemistry Olympiad Local Exam is something students may face in this year’s local test, held on March 16.

The 60 question, multiple choice exam is sponsored by the American Chemical Society and 20-25 Saratoga High students vie for two spots to compete locally.

“I think students should take it,” said senior Ashwin Siripurapu, one of the two students who represented Saratoga High nationally in last year’s olympiad and received honorable mention. “If you’re looking to get all the questions right, though, that’s kind of impractical.”

The school-wide competition held on Mar. 16 will be just a precursor to later rounds. Two students who are selected will compete locally and then nationally, possibly even internationally.

“The primary reason why we continue to hold this exam is because of student interest,” said AP Chemistry teacher Kathy Nakamatsu. “It’s just challenging.”