Chemistry Olympiad Finalists Move on to Take National Exam

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A promotional poster for the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad. (Photo Courtesy: American Chemical Society)

Isabella Makino

     The Chemistry Olympiad, sponsored by the American Chemical Society, was held on March 7, 2021. The exam is open to all high school students in the U.S. It consisted of questions about first-year college level chemistry, and all AP Chemistry students at Mililani High School took it. 

     “I think my students are really good,” said MHS AP Chemistry teacher Namthip Sitachitta. “They reciprocate my effort, so I really enjoy teaching them.”

     This exam was held in-person at school. Students had two hours to complete sixty multiple choice questions consisting of experiment and lab questions as well as content or lecture questions. It was similar to the AP Chemistry Exam, which allowed students to gauge how they would do on the exam.

     Due to COVID-19, part of the exam had to be altered. Many questions about labs were skipped, as students were unable to do experiments in-person.

     “I think it was a little harder because with COVID, it kind of slowed down where we are in the year, so when we took the test, there were still like a couple chapters we didn’t learn,” said Junior Collin Horiuchi. “So we had to take our best guess.”

     The top two highest scores were submitted to the American Chemical Society, where the coordinator for Hawaii would accumulate the top scores from across the state and rank them. Those who were ranked in the top ten in the state would advance to take the National Exam. 

     “One thing I’m kind of proud of is that I always have kids in the top 10 every year,” said Sitachitta.

     This year, two students from MHS, Horiuchi and Senior Tyler Stonerook, scored in the top ten in the state and moved on to take the National Exam. They are receiving tutoring from professors at the University of Hawaii, who prep them for the exam. There are three sessions per week, and they last about an hour.

     “I’m just proud of the students,” said Sitachitta. “I won’t take too much credit for it. I’m just giving them the opportunity. The credit goes to the students because they try really hard.”

     Normally, the National Exam is held in person at Leeward Community College, but this year it will be virtual. The first part will be on April 17, and the second part will be on April 24.