WEP Previews ’22: Chemistry Olympiad

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By Chemistry Olympiad Members

Do you want to find out how chemistry shapes the world around us? (hint, it’s a hexagon) 

Are you interested in finding out how hydrogen can form two covalent bonds?

If your passion for chemistry combusts spontaneously, Chemistry Olympiad is just for you!

Ah yes, organic chemistry.

Chemistry Olympiad is the school’s training team for the Singapore Chemistry Olympiad (SChO), an annual competition organised by the Singapore National Institute of Chemistry (SNIC), Chemistry Department of National University of Singapore and the Ministry of Education that “provides an opportunity for students to further their interest and pit their knowledge against each other in Chemistry. The competition is only open to JC 1 students, and consists of a 4-5 hours theory test with open-ended questions, as well as a practical test of similar duration for shortlisted students. The top 25 students will be invited to join the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) training team, with the top 4 representing Singapore at the prestigious IChO.

IChO 2020: Every feline’s favourite ten-carbon bicyclic monoterpenoid.

Chemistry Olympiad is usually held on Wednesdays in school from 1 to 3 pm. Additional training sessions start from Term 4 onwards, immediately after the Year 5 Promotional Exams. There will be multiple training sessions per week, which can be synchronous lessons or asynchronous practices that will be accompanied with online lectures. Keep in mind that this will likely be the most hectic period of the year, as Olympians will also need to prepare for the H1 Project Work ‘A Levels’ at the same time, especially for the Oral Presentation at the end of the year.

After signing up for the Chemistry Olympiad programme during JIP, you will need to sit for a selection test. About 35 students will be offered to join the Chemistry Olympiad programme. Throughout the year, there will be around 2 internal selection tests to gauge how well you are learning and to pick the top 20 students to represent RI in SChO. These students will continue their training in Term 4 after promos, leading up to the competition mid-November.

Given the restrictions created by the pandemic, Chemistry Olympiad sessions have all been converted to theory lessons, with lecture notes and tutorial questions posted on Ivy for students to attempt before the lesson. During the lessons proper, which are conducted either in person or online, a rotation of your favourite Chemistry tutors will cover parts of the notes and the discussion questions. Students are expected to be self-directed and read up on advanced topics on their own, especially given the limited time during sessions. 

This does mean that Chemistry Olympiad requires a large commitment outside of the Wednesday timeslot and with a new topic every week the work does pile up. However, if you dedicate the time to learning everything from steady-state equilibrium to crossed Claisen condensation, you’ll be an expert arrow-pusher in no time.

Timothy says this is an easy and fun one.

SChO is based on a foundation of H2 Chemistry, so you will learn topics ahead of your peers, with physical and organic chemistry introduced earlier in the year and inorganic chemistry brought into the picture after promos. You might need to read up on topics yet uncovered by the H2 syllabus like Acid-Base Equilibria and Retrosynthesis, so textbooks like Klein and Clayden for organic chemistry (die-hard fans argue that the mechanism-based approach of Clayden is superior compared to the functional-group approach) and Atkins for both physical and inorganic chemistry (there are two separate super-thick books) might be of use. 

Additionally, as the Chemistry Olympiad includes a practical round, there will be opportunities to do experiments to hone your practical skills! Sadly, we were unable to conduct practical sessions unlike previous batches :( 

In summary, Chemistry Olympiad is an exciting opportunity to explore the field of chemistry and its applications in daily life, and will definitely be an unforgettable journey in Y56! While there may be some academic rigour, there’s plenty of opportunities to forge new friendships that will remain as fond, bittersweet memories.

Don’t forget to sign up for Chemistry Olympiad as your Enrichment Programme! All the best, and remember:

Hard work pays off! Chem Is Try!

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