Winners of the You be the Chemist competition Saturday at Penn State Berks are, from left, Trent Morris, 13, Berks Christian School, first place; Marc Chmielewski, 12, Wilson West Middle School, third place; Haley Savastano, 11, Hamburg Middle School, fourth place; and Bhanu Oruganty, 12, C.E. Cole Intermediate School, Muhlenberg School District, second place.
"Eighth-grader scores second victory in chemistry competition"
March 3rd, 2013
When Trent Morris got dressed Saturday morning, it was for success.
Standing out from his fellow competitors in a sport coat and tie, Trent, 13, a Berks Christian School eighth-grader, won first place in the You Be The Chemist competition at the Penn State Berks Perkins Center Auditorium for the second consecutive year.
The quiz-show style competition drew 100 students from around Berks County. The event was sponsored by the Chemical Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote the sciences, and Brenntag North America Inc., a global chemical distributor in Ontelaunee Township.
"This is a part of our community outreach," said Tom Corcoran, commercial vice president of Brenntag North America Inc. "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."
Questions ranged from lab procedure to understanding the differences between effusion and diffusion, quickly calculating volume and differentiating among solvates, solvents, solutes and solates.
"That show, 'Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?' comes to mind," Corcoran said. "Some of these questions are really hard."
The competitors were whittled down through four rounds of questions and a tie-breaking lightning round.
The top four finalists all received trophies, gift certificates to Educational and Fun, a teaching and learning supply store in Bern Township, and a six-month membership to the Reading Public Museum. Second place was taken by Bhanu Oruganty, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at C.E. Cole Intermediate School in the Muhlenberg School District.
Marc Chmielewski, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at Wilson West Middle School, took third place. Hamburg Middle School sixth-grader, Haley Savastano, 11, who had been studying chemistry as an extracurricular, finished fourth.
The four competitors will go on to the state competition in April and, if they are sharp enough, to the national competition in June.
Trent, who not only won last year but also placed second in 2011, said that he dressed for the occasion and it is something special for him.
"This is the last year I can do this," Trent said. "So I want use my talent the best I can."