The competition was open to students in public and private schools as well as homeschoolers across the state. The chemistry contest is designed for students taking a first-year chemistry course during the 2010-11 school year. Hough team members were: tenth-graders Ryan Adams, Jack Buffum, Ben Hay, Fiona Lynch, Jennifer Ma, and Hailey Sherman, and eleventh-grader Rebecca Wilds.
The contest consisted of a 75-minute, multiple choice chemistry exam, and the top five scores from each school team determined the school’s overall placement in the competition.
The test was tough, students said.
“It was really fast. The timing was my biggest issue,” Rebecca Wilds said. Hough chemistry teacher Kenneth Carter worked with the Hough team to prepare for the competition. Carter, who was president of a chemical company before leaving to become a teacher, said he teaches students that chemistry is a way to improve their lives.
“I keep telling the students how I came from a very poor background in England,” he said. “It was education that got me out.”
Carter and his colleague, Hough chemistry teacher James Buchanan, asked their best chemistry students to join the Super Chemistry Competition team.
“We knew they were going to be good,” Carter said, adding that winning the competition was a bonus.
“They pushed them past where they were taught,” he said.
High school chemistry has changed over the last two decades, emphasizing more math and focusing less on lab work, Carter said. Hough High, which opened in August, has no gas supplied to the school and thus no Bunsen burners for lab work, he said.
In fact, the school is so new that when its wining team was announced, the speaker mispronounced the school’s name.
“We just sat there for a minute and then we realized they were talking about us,” Carter said.
The female team members said they prepared for the competition with practice tests while the male students said they decided to just “wing it.” The students made a friendly ice cream wager betting on wether the girls or the guys scored higher in the competition. They’ll receive a breakdown of test results soon, the students said.
Hough Principal Terri Cockerham said the whole school is proud of the chemistry students for winning first place. She said the school overall has done well in academic competitions in its first year and credits that to the staff’s hard work getting the school up and running.
“It’s pay off for everything we’ve done,” she said.