‘Molar Mass’ reigns supreme in chemistry teacher’s mole contest

March 8, 2010 — by David Eng

Over February break, a week typically devoted to family outings, junior Will Tang spent time with his mother a little more unconventionally.

“In the span of two hours, my mom turned me into a professional seamstress,” said Tang. “I learned how to use a sewing machine and now I’m really good at it.”

No, Tang was not preparing for a stint as a fashion designer or anything of the sort. In fact, he and his mother were sewing together a mole to compete in chemistry teacher Kathy Nakamatsu’s annual contest.

In the optional assignment, Nakamatsu asks students in her Honors and AP Chemistry classes to design a mole (usually a unit of measurement in chemistry but in this case a stuffed animal) with an appealing incentive: five extra credit lab points. While some students sew a plain mole to simply obtain the extra credit points, most students, including Tang, dress their mole up for the actual contest based on a mole pun.

After a mole army from each of Nakamatsu’s five periods was accounted for, some teachers voted on whose moles they deemed the best. The top vote-getting mole in each period secured a bid in the finals and also earned its owner a $5 gift card to Starbucks.

The five moles that weaseled into the final round were sophomore Tiffany Tu’s “Mol-ympics,” sophomore David Eng’s “Mole B. Bryant,” Tang’s “Water Molo,” junior Daryl Chang’s “iMole” and junior Arthur Chang’s “Molar Mass.”

“I have never seen any of these before. They were all new and great,” said Nakamatsu.

To determine the grand-prize winner of a $25 gift card to Target, Nakamatsu held a blind vote for each of her five periods. By the end of the day, only one mole reigned supreme: Chang’s “Molar Mass.”

Chang accessorized his fluffy white mole to represent the pope, holding a “molar mass.” Eng’s “Mole B. Bryant” finished runner-up.

“It’s just a fun contest,” said Nakamatsu. “I get to see a side of students I normally don’t get to see.”

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