Earlier this year, nearly 400 middle school students from CPS gathered at Malcolm X College to participate in the 6th Annual CPS You Be the Chemist (YBTC) Challenge. Created by the Chemical Educational Foundation , the Challenge is an academic question-and-answer competition focusing on knowledge of chemistry concepts, important discoveries, and chemical safety awareness. Student teams from 40 CPS elementary and middle schools also had the opportunity to perform demonstrations of engaging chemistry projects for parents and guests.
The winner of this year’s CPS event was Edward Y., a 5th grade student from Lenart Elementary Regional Gifted Center. Anastasiya S., an 8th grade student from Franklin Elementary Fine Arts Center, placed second in the challenge. Allison G. from John L. Marsh Elementary School and Isaiah W. from Marcus Moziah Garvey Elementary School placed third and fourth respectively. In April, Edward, Anastasiya and Allison represented CPS at the Illinois State YBTC Challenge in Des Plaines, IL. Anastasiya and Edward advanced to the 3rd and 4th rounds of the competition, respectively; Edward had the strongest finish for a CPS student in the state challenge. He was the only 5th grade student competing at the state level.
“Chemistry is fun. I like how you get to mix stuff together and create a new substance. Whenever you combine different things, you never get the same results, so it is very cool,” said Edward. “The state competition was kind of stressing but it was still fun. I was nervous because you have to answer question after question and everyone was watching every move you do. But it was fun because you get to see how well other people do and you can learn stuff from them that you might not have known before the competition.”
The YBTC program aims to engage 5th – 8th grade students in the study of chemistry though an interactive out-of-school time club. The program culminates in the YBTC Challenge, which partners members of the chemical industry with schools and organizations from the communities in which they operate.
“My friend was in it [the competition] last year and it seemed like she was having fun so I decided to try and I found it enjoyable,” said Anastasiya. “Chemistry it has a bunch of interesting aspects that are different from other subjects, it’s a new experience every day. We did a lot of experiments so that was great; we learned a lot of things that were different like chemical formulas. The competition was very fun and a new experience because I have never been in a competition of any sort. I thought it was interesting and it was really tense but it was super exciting.”
Since its launch in partnership with City Colleges of Chicago in the 2007 school year, the CPS You Be the Chemist program has become a national model for large-scale implementation of middle school chemistry clubs. In the 2011-2012 school year, the Office of Pathways to College and Career currently supports over 50 school-based YBTC clubs. For more information about the YBTC program and to learn about the national competition, please visit the CEF website .
Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Arlington, VA, the Chemical Educational Foundation’s mission is to “foster a greater understanding of the science of chemistry and the benefits of chemicals by developing educational programs to enhance science education opportunities and by building collaborative community partnerships through industry, educator, and student participation.”
While Anastasiya would like to follow in her parent's footsteps and be a doctor when she grows up, Edward would like to be a biological engineer. “You get to mix stuff like chemistry and it helps other people too because sometime you make vaccines,” he said.
Kathleen Doyle from Lenart was awarded the Robert Thomas Bobins Memorial Award of Excellence, established to recognize an outstanding teacher who has “inspired, encouraged and supported young chemists.”
Congrats to Edward, Anastasiya, Allison, Isaiah and all of our students who participated.