Pop Quiz! | July 16, 2012 Issue - Vol. 90 Issue 29 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 29 | pp. 18-19
Issue Date: July 16, 2012

Cover Stories: 44th International Chemistry Olympiad

Pop Quiz!

Match wits with the high school students who take the IChO exam
Department: ACS News
Keywords: ACS, IChO, International Chemistry Olympiad, education

To download a PDF of the full article and popquiz, visit http://cenm.ag/quiz.

The International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) exam is no piece of cake, even for chemists who are considerably older than the high school students who take it.

“Graduate students might be able to answer most of the questions, but not all of them, and certainly not within the period of time that’s expected,” says Michael P. Doyle, chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department at the University of Maryland, College Park, which will host the olympiad on July 21–30. Even established scientists would find it hard to answer a number of the questions, he adds. But it’s not impossible; at last year’s IChO in Ankara, Turkey, a student from the Czech Republic earned a perfect score on the theoretical part of the exam. (The other part of the exam is a lab practical.)

Despite the challenge, chemistry olympians don’t seem to regard the experience as an ordeal. “It would destroy me,” Doyle admits, but “students come into this with a visible sign of relaxation and enthusiasm.”

They gain their confidence in part from intensive preparation ahead of IChO. That advance work includes practice with a large number of preparatory problems, says Doyle, who along with his departmental colleague Andrei N. Vedernikov chaired the 15-member volunteer committee that wrote this year’s preparatory and exam problems.

IChO guidelines specify the length of the exam as well as the topics that can be considered fair game for questions. Exam writers can also throw in a few questions from outside those areas as long as the topics are introduced in the preparatory questions.

Quiz Question

The exam, which is translated by mentors from each of the student teams’ countries, is presented to the students in a paper booklet, with a second booklet in which they write their answers. Answers are numerical or structural to avoid errors in translation during grading.

The questions tend to be lengthy and have multiple parts. Here’s a sampling of some of the briefer questions from previous years’ exams.

To download a PDF of the full article and popquiz, visit http://cenm.ag/quiz.

Click here to view the interactive quiz

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null (July 18, 2012 3:20 PM)
i clicked all,over no answers
Rachel Pepling, Online Editor (July 19, 2012 8:10 AM)
You can find the answers in the slideshow at the bottom of the story.
Farsburg (July 19, 2012 11:04 PM)
How? There are no arrows.
Rachel Pepling, Online Editor (July 20, 2012 11:36 AM)
There should be arrows just above the questions and below "Click the right and left arrows to view the questions and answers." If you don't see them (or the dots below each question indicating which slide you're on), let me know which browser and version you're using.
null (July 20, 2012 1:04 PM)
Do not see any arrows either. IE, Version 8.
null (July 20, 2012 4:07 PM)
no arrows in IE8; arrows worked in safari (windows 7)
null (July 20, 2012 2:19 PM)
Mine does not work either. Internet Explorer 8.
Louis Schliselfeld (July 21, 2012 1:55 PM)
I am a member of the ACS and enjoy reading C&EN. I became most interwested in your article about some of the POP Quiz questions asked at the chemical olympia. I then came to this web site to learn the answers to the quizes that you listed in the article. Unfortunately there are none. You state on the Web site click the right and left arrows to see the questions and answers. Unfortunately none of the arrows when clicked provide anything. Did you forget to provide the answers? How can I see the answeres to the POP Quiz?
Rachel Pepling, Online Editor (July 23, 2012 10:31 AM)
Thanks, everyone. We're clearly running into a browser issue with IE8 and IE7. We're looking into it. In the meantime, Safari, Firefox, IE9, and Chrome seem to be fine, so you should be able to view the answers on any of those browsers. Apologies for the inconvenience.
Anthony Diaz (July 24, 2012 1:44 PM)
If you download the pdf document you will find the answers.

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