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Recognizing science and industry

Schools name 'You Be The Chemist Challenge' local winners

Truman Daggett, from left, Eden Dennis and Tony Bernhard were the school-level winners in the You Be the Chemist Challenge from Mazon-Verona-Kinsman Middle School.
Truman Daggett, from left, Eden Dennis and Tony Bernhard were the school-level winners in the You Be the Chemist Challenge from Mazon-Verona-Kinsman Middle School.

Eight area middle schools have declared their winners in the Grundy County and La Salle County Challenge Site’s 2013 “You Be the Chemist Challenge.”

Each school's first place winner and runner-up advance to the dual county competition held Monday, Feb. 11, at Seneca Elementary School-South Campus.

The scholastic bowl-style competition with a scientific/chemical twist is a national contest with 22 states competing this year. Illinois has eight challenge sites on its own, plus, this year, offered open registration for students to qualify through taking an exam in Naperville on Jan. 15.

Three students emerged as winners and were connected to a county challenge site near them. Of the top students, one from Springfield, Ill., was to play on the Grundy County side, and the student from Dunlap, Ill., on the La Salle County side. Winners and runner-ups from the eight local schools and the two downstate students total 18 contestants for this local contest.  

The top three winners from each county site will compete in the state competition that will be held at Northwestern University in Evanston on April 27.  Only one winner will advance to the national contest on June 24 in Philadelphia. 

Featured speaker before the competition was Mark Biel, executive director of the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois, who gave a short talk about careers in chemistry and the business of chemistry in Illinois.

Contest operations and its prizes are made possible through the continued sponsorship of eight local companies: Air Products & Chemicals, AkzoNobel Surface Chemistry, Aux Sable Liquids, Carus Corporation, Exelon-Dresden Station, Flint Hills Resources, LyondellBasell Industries, and PQ Corporation.

Each local school’s winner will receive a Compaq notebook, which were purchased locally through Velocita Technology, a Joliet company.  Each school’s second-place winner will receive a $50 gift card toward electronics or books of their choice.

At the next level of the contest, each county winner will receive a Kindle Fire and each county runner up will receive a $50 gift card. In addition, each contestant will receive a $25 gift card, plus a bag of various items donated by Akzo Nobel, Aux Sable Liquid, Flint Hills Resources, and Exelon-Dresden Station. 

Now in its ninth year, Coordinator Patricia Neff, says it’s great to see students return to compete year after year.

“Gluttons for punishment,” she says since each year the study guides and questions get harder and the competition gets stiffer. The teachers who take on this contest make science for kids fun.

The state contest is sponsored by the Illinois Chemical Education Foundation (a foundation within the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois), and the national organizer, from whom all the study, testing, and contest materials come from, is the Chemical Educational Foundation (CEF) of Arlington, Va. CEF’s website has many free ideas, lesson plans and information for teachers and students alike.

For more information about what they can offer and about the national contest, visit For more information on the local contest, contact Patricia Neff, 815-634-2370.


School Level Winners You Be the Chemist Challenge

Grundy County
Coal City Middle School – Coordinator Ms. Gina Piatak
1st Place — Cal Smolik (8th)
2nd Place — Katelynn Cullom (8th)
Alternate — Lanie Smith (8th) (1st Place - School 2011)
Mazon-Verona-Kinsman  Middle School – Teacher  Ms. Darcy Welsh
1st Place — Eden Dennis  (8th)  (1st Place-School Level-2012)
2nd Place — Tony Bernhard (8th)
Alternate — Truman Daggett (8th) (Alternate 2012)

Minooka Junior High – Coordinator Ms. Sally Readle
1st Place — Mackenzie Harman (8th) (Alternate 2012)
2nd Place     — Amy Shemash (8th)
Alternate — Gabby Mejia (8th)

Saratoga Middle School (Morris) – Teacher Ms. Lisa Garrison
1st Place — Jared Roth (8th) (1st Place-2012, 2nd Place Grundy Co. 2012)
2nd Place — Logan Mattson (8th)
Alternate — Joey Lyle (7th) (Alternate-School 2012)

La Salle County
Oglesby Washington Junior High – Teacher Mr. Glen Flodstrom
1st Place — Jordan Veracini (8th)
2nd Place — Michael Cuevas (8th)
Alternate — Laura Agostino (8th)

Parkside Junior High (Peru) – Teacher Ms. Alison Bryant
1st Place — Alexa Dawson (7th) (Alternate 2012)
2nd Place — Gina Henkel (8th) (2nd Place-School 2012)
Alternate  — Travis Camp (8th)

Seneca  Middle School – Teacher  Mr. Matt Nickels
1st Place — Jamie Goslin (8th)
2nd Place     — Grant Granby (8th)(2nd Place-School 2012, Alt. LaSalle Co. 2012 )
Alternate — Sean Baker (8th)

Waltham Elementary (Utica) – Teacher Ms. Jana Berman
1st Place — Nic Bollis (8th)
2nd Place — Matthew Adams (8th)
Alternate — Owen Stoneking (8th) 

Open Registration Winners – Standings out of 30 who took the qualifying test in Naperville on Jan. 15:
1st Place — Krishi Korrapati (8th)  Franklin Middle School, Springfield, Ill.
3rd Place — Esther Mathew (6th)  Dunlap Middle School, Dunlap, Ill.

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