Chemathon excels at competition


Photo Courtesy of Julie Baker

Level 1 sophomores Suky Pei, Ryan Xu, and Alex Yuan (left to right) work on a lab experiment called Viscoelastic Bounce, where they made bouncy balls out of glue. The Level I team placed second for their bouncy ball.

On April 30, AP Chemistry teacher Julie Baker and nine students competed against 23 other schools from Maryland, DC, and northern Virginia in the Chemathon competition held at the University of Maryland.

Level one, which consisted of senior Aventory Zhou, juniors Carry Yi and Greg Wang, and sophomores Ryan Xu, Alex Yuan, and Suky Pei, placed second in their crystal lab experiment. Level two, which consisted of juniors Yena Kim, Jaeik Sa, and Sean Xie, placed fourth place for the poster Kim made and fourth place in the crystal experiment.

Students who participate in Chemathon, according to Baker, are required to do lab experiments, pencil and paper calculations, create a poster, and submit a crystal to be judged.

Going into the competition, Yuan hoped to gain more knowledge in chemistry and work as a team with new people. “I think I learned a lot of things and I have really had fun during the preparation. I did all the labs and it’s really cool, those are the things that I cannot learn from my level of chemistry,” Yuan said.

According to Kim, the team was well prepared because they remained focused on chemistry during practice and even on the bus ride to the competition. “I practiced solving problems on the bus, and we gave [each other] advice,” Kim said. The team met every Wednesday throughout the year to practice short answer questions and lab experiments.

Kim didn’t expect her poster to win fourth since there were other prestigious competitors. For the poster, she chose to investigate why planets are a certain color and used chemistry to explain why. According to Kim, it took a lot of time to research because she had to interpret the environmental reasons and explain it with chemistry.

Xie thinks that the hardest part of the competition was the lab. He completed the lab by himself and had to do two minute drops simultaneously. Although it didn’t go well, Xie admits he still had fun.

“Last year, we only had a level two team and I think they only placed in one event so they did better [this year],” Baker said. Baker acknowledges that it was a lot of practice every week, but she was proud of them, especially for waking up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning.

“It’s all about the chemistry, kind of learn how to research and learn how to do the lab skills. It’s definitely helpful,” Kim said.

Caroline Cooney is an In-Focus Editor for The Patriot and