South Hampstead Scientists continue their tradition of impressive results in national competitions designed to test knowledge and thinking beyond the curriculum.
Each year, a growing number of students in the Lower Sixth compete in the fiendishly difficult Cambridge Chemistry Challenge examination paper – with increasingly strong results. Chemistry Teacher Ms Knox, who previously worked in neuroendocrinology as a postgraduate researcher at KCL, reports back on this year’s triumphs.
‘The paper is put together by academics, mostly based at St Catherine’s College – including the great Peter Wothers, who co-wrote by far the most useful of my undergraduate textbooks! This year’s paper was deemed particularly tricky by the organisers, and was themed around the periodic table, since this year marks the 150th anniversary of Mendeleev’s first published periodic table. The first section was about initially misplaced elements such as iodine and tellurium, and other aspects inspired by the history of the periodic table. The second section was an exploration of the properties and reactions of periodic acid, and was a very challenging set of organic chemistry problems centred around deliberately unfamiliar compounds.
Of the 15 students who sat the paper, four obtained Silver certificates and seven obtained Copper certificates; both represent a significant achievement, as even the questions that were testing A Level material were posed in a potentially unfamiliar way, and the paper itself was very text-heavy, and difficult to finish in the time given. In fact, three of the Chemistry teachers (myself included) tried the paper ourselves, and none of us quite finished in the time allotted!
Congratulations to all who competed, especially the following girls who attained Silver (Ayala, Biba, Anoushka and Alicia) and Copper (Rebecca, Eve, Sarya, Gaya, Zoe, Saaya and Scarlett) awards.’
This year, for the first year, Lower Sixth students also took part in the Intermediate Biology Olympiad. Over 8,200 students from schools worldwide participated, testing not only students’ knowledge of the Biology curriculum but also their ability to work under time pressure. Well done to all our students who were commended and highly commended for their work, with a special mention to Lauren and Anoushka for obtaining Bronze awards and Alice for achieving Silver.