Turkish Delight for Chemistry Olympiad Students
Canadian high school students achieved the best-ever national results at the 43rd International Chemistry Olympiad this summer, held in Ankara from July 9–18. Canada has been training and sending students to this international event since 1986. The four-person team, which was announced at the 94th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition in Montréal this June, won four medals (one gold and three silvers). The gold medal winner was Steven Song (Semiahmoo Secondary School, Vancouver), who was placed 22nd in the world out of 273 students from 70 countries. Silver medals were earned by Shuoli Liu (Glebe Collegiate Institute, Ottawa), Melody Guan (University of Toronto Schools, Toronto) and Richard Liu (also University of Toronto Schools). Richard Liu had previously won a silver medal at the 42nd Olympiad in Tokyo last year. The Chemical Institute of Canada provides administrative support for the national team, with academic training organized at the University of Toronto. Andy Dicks, MCIC, University of Toronto and former Olympian John Janetzko, Harvard University, acted as mentors in Turkey this year.
The Turkish organizers of this year’s program devised challenging but fair written and practical tests. In the five-hour laboratory examination, students undertook three separate tasks. The first was a titrimetric analysis of unknown mixtures to determine chloride and magnesium ion content. Secondly, the kinetics of hydrogen gas production from ammonia borane was measured under catalytic conditions. The final task involved synthesis, purification and separation of a diastereomeric mixture of ferrocene-containing ligands. The theoretical problems focused on topics including “click” chemistry and atom-economical reactions, synthesis of a carbasugar, thiosulfate leaching of gold, polynitrogen compounds, sodium borohydride fuel cells and ammonia as an alternative liquid fuel source. These tests were at the level normally taught in second- and third-year Canadian undergraduate courses.
Congratulations to all the students and mentors involved in the program this year! The 44th International Chemistry Olympiad will be held in Washington, DC from July 21–30, 2012 (www.icho2012.org).
Sponsored by NOVA Chemicals