Twenty U.S. high school students reach finals for International Chemistry Olympiad team

May 19, 2003

Twenty of the nation's top high school chemistry students, representing 14 states, will compete for a spot on the U.S. team in the 35th annual International Chemistry Olympiad in Athens, Greece, July 5-14.

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 2002 U.S. team won two gold medals and one silver and one bronze. In 2000, a member of the American team won the top gold medal at the Olympiad.

Seventeen boys and three girls, chosen from a pool of nearly 10,000 high school students nationwide, will spend June 1-15 preparing at a study camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. During the two-week 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 50 other countries.

Each country sends four contestants and two coaches to the host country for seven to ten days of exams, lectures, recreation and tours.

Science mentors and professors at the U.S. Air Force Academy conduct the majority of laboratory and classroom instruction at the study camp. "It's such a pleasure to work with the 20 best high school students in the country," said Neal Sumerlin, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, Va., and head mentor for the Olympiad team. "Unfortunately, only four can represent the United States in the Olympiad. I know, however, that our team will be better prepared for the international competition because of their intensive training and camaraderie at the study camp."

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 U.S. 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 and Fisher Scientific. The 20 U.S. finalists who will participate in this year's study camp and compete for positions on the Olympiad team are: *student participated in last year's study camp

American Chemical Society

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