Carmel students win You Be The Chemist challenge


By Samantha Kupiainen

A group of students from Carmel Middle School recently won the state portion of the national competition, You Be The Chemist. The challenge is a free STEM-based competition for students in fifth through eighth grades and consists of teams of three or four participants.

The winning team from Carmel Middle School comprises eighth-graders Anirudh Gopal, Arnav Bhatwadekar, Bryan Yu and Josh Kim.

A major portion of the competition consists of students making a video that addresses a themed prompt that’s chemistry related. This year’s theme focused on the environment.

The challenge is split into two parts: A qualifying exam consisting of 40 chemistry related questions and a video response that addresses the year’s themed prompt.

As part of the competition, the team competed under the name BAJA Eco Solutions and explored green roofs.

“The problem we had with the green roofs is that they were leaching phosphorus, which is really bad for the environment once it got out of the system,” Gopal said. “So, we came up with a type of filter that applied part of a fungi to absorb the phosphorus leakage and actually release it as a beneficial nutrient.”

Throughout their video, the students explored what green roofs are, their pros and cons, and how to stop phosphorus leaching. The group also explored the strengths and weaknesses of their solution and addressed how their project aligns with United Nations sustainable development goals.

The competition was entirely virtual. BAJA Eco Solutions relied on each other and “conquering and dividing” to see the project through, Gopal said.

“What I was thinking was mostly, if I finish all the work that I had, then it would be easier for everybody else to also finish what they had,” Gopal said. “It was kinda a divide and conquer mindset. We all took a portion and finished that so we could do the whole thing faster instead of going through each little bit together.”