Illinois Middle Schooler Wins Chemical Industry Sponsored Chemistry Competition

ARLINGTON, VA—June 26, 2012—Bhagirath Mehta, a sixth grader at Iroquois Community School in Des Plaines, IL, has won the Chemical Educational Foundation’s (CEF’s) 2012 National You Be The Chemist Challenge – an academic competition that quizzes grade 5-8 students on important chemistry concepts, processes, and historical discoveries.

Held at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, PA, Bhagirath and 21 other students battled through eight thrilling rounds of competition before he took the title of National Champion. Michael Allen, a sixth grader at Franciscan Academy of Lourdes University in Toledo, OH, Yilin Yang, an eighth grader at Frost Middle School in Livonia, MI, and Tate Banks, an eighth grader at Duncan Middle School in Duncan, OK, placed second, third, and fourth, respectively.

The competition brought together over two hundred chemical industry representatives, family members, and educators in a celebration of chemistry. “I am continually impressed by the bright young minds that participate in this program. Watching the participants become excited as they connect the chemistry concepts to their everyday lives is a truly rewarding experience for all who are involved,” stated John Rice, CEF Executive Director, “The Challenge is a wonderful celebration of the hard work put forth not only by the students but by all the industry members and educators who have participated in the program within their local communities and contributed to its advancement.” he added.

Throughout the school year, approximately 16,000 thousand students participated in Local and/or State Challenges nationwide. The top twenty-two students, one from each participating state, advanced to the national competition. In addition to the top four, participants represented California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin.

In addition to the competition, Challenge participants, family members, and educators mingled with members of the chemical industry in a celebration dinner held at the National Constitution Center immediately following the crowning of the National Challenge Champion, Mehta. Attendees mingled and browsed the National Constitution Center’s exhibits during a reception and then enjoyed dinner and a live interactive chemistry show featuring The Franklin Institute’s Joe Talento. The night also included an award ceremony for the participants. The Dow Chemical Company, BASF Corporation, Brenntag North America, Inc., ICL Performance Products LP, PVS-Nolwood Chemicals, Inc., and Shell Chemical Company sponsored CEF’s National Challenge Celebration Dinner.

Also, as a part of the Challenge experience, participants, their family members, and educators were treated to a three-day event that included exploration of the city and a breakfast and planetarium show at The Franklin Institute, followed by an afternoon of exploration through the museum’s exhibits. The National Challenge and all of its surrounding events are organized by CEF and sponsored by members of the chemical industry:

Diamond Sponsor of all You Be The Chemist programs: The Dow Chemical Company

Platinum Sponsors: BASF Corporation, Brenntag North America, Inc., ICL Performance Products LP, PVS-Nolwood Chemicals, Inc., and Shell Chemical Company

Gold Sponsors: Informex, Lonza, and Univar

Silver Sponsors: National Association of Chemical Distributors, Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates, and Thames & Kosmos

Bronze Sponsors: Coast Southwest, Inc., Expo Chemical Company, Inc., MeadWestvaco, PQ Corporation, and Turning Technologies LLC

While in Philadelphia, all of the National Challenge participants received exciting prizes including Thames & Kosmos CHEMC3000 chemistry kits, gift certificates to the Discovery Channel Store, and YBTC Challenge T-shirts, bags, and other giveaways. The first-, second-, third- and fourth -place winners also received educational scholarships.


Founded in 1989 and headquartered in Arlington, VA, the Chemical Educational Foundation works closely with industry to enhance science education opportunities for our youth. For more information visit

Contact: Laurel Brent