Four AP Chemistry students from CdM had the opportunity to compete in the Local Section for the Chemistry Olympiad Exam Competition on March 6, 2021. The exam was the first round of a larger National competition, but unfortunately, although CdM did place 9th in Orange County, none of the students placed individually in the top 11 and qualified for the second round. The image shows the top 12 schools and their points gained. The points represent the combined total number of questions answered correctly for each school. The Local Section Exam was a 60 question multiple-choice test that included topics from basic lab safety and stoichiometry to electro and organic chemistry. The students were able to take the proctored exam this year through Zoom and were timed 110 minutes for the multiple-choice test, as well as 15 minutes for a tie-breaker free response.
The four students representing CdM were juniors Pierce Hemphill, Cole Junge, Angelina Jia, and Max Wang. They were selected by AP Chemistry teacher Mrs. Ngo through their academic achievements in the class and their readiness to learn new things. In order to prepare for the exam, which had topics they had not or were not going to learn in their AP Chemistry class, the students met for two hours after 6th period every Friday. They prepped for 8 weeks, learning what they could about galvanic cells and ester vs ether. Outside of the Friday sessions, the students tried to take at least one full-length practice exam a week in order to see what topics they could improve on. Hemphill comments on the experience saying, “I really enjoyed ACS as I got to work with friends in an environment where it was super easy to speak up and ask questions and then be able to use that knowledge to help people in my AP Chem class on future units.” He is referring to the ACS students getting the opportunity to peer teach in their class period topics from units they had learned before their class got there. In the upcoming electrochemistry unit, the students will get to present their chosen topics to their class, helping their peers learn what they had already studied. Overall, competing in the Olympiad Exam was a unique experience and taught the students a lot about chemistry and time management.