By Amanda Foust
Carmel High School juniors Adit Chandra and Willie Zhu are headed to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado to compete for one of four spots on the team that will represent the United States in the 46th International Chemistry Olympiad.
The competition for this honor was rigorous, but both Adit and Willie prevailed.
The first step in their journey was winning a CHS competition in which only two students per high school could qualify for the next round.
“This was quite an honor because Carmel High School is a powerhouse,” Adit said.
The next step was scoring highly on a standard exam that featured sixty multiple choice questions, a written exam and a lab practical.
From these test results the top 20 in the nation were identified, and these students were chosen to attend the study camp in Colorado.
This study camp will include two weeks of vigorous learning about various chemistry topics. Students, who are provided with mentors to help them through this process, will receive college and graduate-level training.
Every couple of days they will take exams, contributing to their running total of scores. Then, a combination of the exam scores and evaluations by the mentors themselves will narrow the field down to four students who will advance to the Chemistry Olympiad.
“Chemistry is the future,” Willie said, with obvious excitement. “There’s a lot of cool stuff going on in chemistry, a lot of new technology is coming out.”
He said he is eager to develop his capabilities and learn more.
“I really want to know how this process has influenced the lives of the mentors there, since most of them have gone through this study camp,” Adit said. “I also am hoping to improve on my lab skills because you can trade these skills in a lot of other places, whether it be biology or physics as well.”
And both Willie and Adit have their own mentors locally who have helped develop their love for chemistry and show them where it can lead.
“No matter your chemistry level,” Adit said, “just taking this first initial exam can open doors, spark a love for chemistry or show how much you can learn.”
New doors are certainly opening for these bright, young chemistry students. Both hope to pursue chemistry in the future and believe this experience will provide tremendous growth.
If Adit and Willie qualify, they will attend this year’s Chemistry Olympiad, which is being conducted at the Hanoi University of Science in Vietnam from July 20 through July 29.