Pennsylvania and New Jersey Students Compete in State Level of National Chemistry Competition

On April 27, 2013 a total of 41 middle school students in the states of PA and NJ respectively participated in the You Be The Chemist® (YBTC) State Challenge, where their knowledge of chemistry concepts, important discoveries and chemical safety awareness was front and center as they competed for a top spot in the upcoming National Challenge.

YBTC Challenges feature grade 5-8 students in an academic question and answer competition created by the Chemical Educational Foundation® (CEF). The Challenge aims to engage middle school students in chemistry through a dynamic event that partners members of the chemical industry with schools and organizations in the communities in which they operate. While exposing students to the fascinating world of chemistry they learn how it applies to their everyday lives, allowing them to gain a greater appreciation of how chemistry and chemicals will continue to shape their world.

“This is part of our community outreach,” said Tom Corcoran, Commercial Vice President of Brenntag North America. “If we can get young kids interested in chemistry now, they can pursue it in high school and college. This is like the (Scripps) National Spelling Bee, but for chemistry. That show, ‘Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?’ comes to mind,” Corcoran added. “Some of these questions are really hard.”

The caliber of students participating at this age and this level is truly amazing. The dedication, focus and determination are all visible as the competition heats up. Parents and teachers both play an important role in preparing students for these events, and their interest in the sciences and development of these kids should be commended.

The PA State Challenge was held for the 7th year in a row at Penn State University in State College. The event was sponsored by Brenntag North America, BASF, Dow Chemical and Penn State. A total of 11 students from 8 schools participated, all receiving certificates and medals for their accomplishments in completing five rounds of questioning. The top four winners, champion Niles Huang/Radnor Middle School, 1st runner up Trent Morris/Berks Christian School, 2nd runner up Bhanu Oruganty/CE Cole Intermediate and 3rd runner up Shayan Farmand/Arcola Intermediate School also received trophies, science kits and subscriptions to Scientific America Magazine. The champion was additionally awarded a Kindle Fire.

The New Jersey State Challenge took place at the offices of BASF in Florham, NJ, who co-sponsored the event along with Brenntag Specialties. All 30 participants received certificates of participation and home science kits. The top four winners also received trophies and gift certificates from Amazon. The top finishers, in the 6th annual NJ event, were champion Andrew Marden, 1st runner up Nicholas Calvano , 2nd runner up Andrew Fong and 3rd runner up Jujhar Singh, all from Franklin Lakes.

Pennsylvania winner Niles Huang along with New Jersey winner Andrew Marden advance to compete in the National YBTC Challenge held at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia on June 24 where they will represent their respective states as they compete with other state winners from across the country.

Schools interested in participating in future challenges can contact (PA) or (NJ). For more information about the competition please visit the CEF website at

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