Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chemistry calls, Council Rock answers - Part 1

What is the difference between a scientific inquiry and the scientific method?  Name a scientific element that’s a good conductor of electricity but not heat.  What year did Niels Bohr win the Nobel Prize?  Could you answer these questions?    Elementary and middle school students from Council Rock South can. 

For the first time ever, Council Rock South is engaging in a science competition of epic proportion.  The You Be The Chemist (YBTC) Challenge® is an interactive academic competition that teaches students in grades 5-8 about important chemistry concepts, scientific discoveries, and laboratory safety.

The YBTC challenge competition was inspired by the Chemical Educational Foundation® (CEF), a national non-profit organization dedicated to fostering a greater understanding of the science and value of chemistry. These types of competitions encourage the collaboration of industry members, schools, and community organizations across the country, to educate students about the value of science education and the role of chemistry in everyday lives.

Renee Devlin, District Science Coordinator for Council Rock, along with a team of volunteers is heading up the inaugural event.  The Council Rock Qualifying Challenge, (the first round of the YBTC challenge), will take place on February 9th at CR North from 11AM-1:00 PM.  90 students representing CR elementary and middle schools, interspersed with some private school students, will complete a written test of 50 multiple-choice questions.  The test will be followed by some cool chemistry demonstrations.  The top 10 students will move on to the Local Challenge that will take place on March 6th at the Dow Chemical facility against other area districts.

Devlin elaborates on the importance of the YBTC Challenge initiative.  “Like all science enrichment programs we offer, we hope the YBTC Challenge engages students and gets them talking about science at home and becoming more excited about science in the classroom.” 

Her volunteer team has done a wonderful job advertising the program and providing facilitated study sessions.  Renee’s outstanding team consists of teachers, parents, teachers, Sal Colosi and Justin Kapusta, Science National Honor Society students from both CR North and South and S.A.G.E. volunteer, Dr. Wally Ropchan, a retired chemical engineer.   

Dr. Wally Ropchan, a new S.A.G.E. volunteer, has had a tremendous affect on the program, coordinating study sessions, visiting schools and walking students through chemistry demonstrations.   When asked what he enjoys most about the YBTC Challenge, Wally says, “I enjoy the enthusiasm of both the teaching staff and students for having me work with them on STEM centered activities.  (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics activities.)  These great students keep me on my toes with their focused questions.  In addition, it is truly inspiring to see how progressive the Council Rock School District is in its support for the S.A.G.E. program as a valuable community-oriented approach to education. ”   

The YBTC Challenge is inspiring the next generation of scientists.  Be sure to follow this “mini-series” and see the outcome of the CR Qualifying Challenge on Feb. 9th!