Olympiad for Chemistry! Filipino student chemists maintain medal momentum in Japan

While the Philippines celebrates the victory of Filipino athletes in the Tokyo Olympics, three young chemistry wizards gave our country another reason to smile by clinching two silver and one bronze medals in the 53nd International Chemistry Olympiad.

Bringing home its best medal haul ever, Team Philippines 2021 won two silver and one bronze medals in the recently concluded 53rd International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) hosted remotely in Japan from July 25 to August 2.

Nathan Wayne Ariston of the Philippine Science High School – Central Mindanao Campus(PSHS-CMC) and Ron Angelo Gelacio of the Philippine Science High School – Main Campus (PSHS-MC) got one silver medal each, and Aames Juriel Morales of De La Salle University Integrated School (Senior High School – Manila Campus) earned the bronze medal.

Gelacio and Ariston both won a bronze medal in the 52nd edition of IChO.

According to Ariston, who has been admitted with a full ride scholarship to Yale University, an Ivy League school in the United States, winning is just a bonus.

“What I love the most about IChO is learning the deepest, wildest chemistry principles even during high school and getting to work with the brightest chemistry young minds and the most brilliant chemistry teachers of our country,” Ariston said.

Ariston said that the Philippine National Chemistry Olympiad (PNCO) is actually a competition that is open to every high school student who is, of course, willing to be the best of the best. The top four winners in the PNCO get to represent the country in IChO.

“My message to chemistry learners is to simply enjoy studying chem. Grasping the wonders of chemistry is much more fulfilling than getting PNCO or even IChO medals. And if one enjoys, winning becomes a million times easier,” Ariston said.

Eighty countries participated in the IChO 2021.

The Integrated Chemists of the Philippines posted the results on its official Facebook page.

What is IChO?

The International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) is an annual competition for the world’s most talented chemistry students at the secondary school level. Nations around the world send a team of four students who are tested on their chemistry knowledge and skills in a five-hour laboratory practical exam and a five-hour written theoretical examination that are held on separate days with the practical examination usually being before the theoretical examination.

According to the IChO 2021 website, the idea of the International Chemistry Olympiad was developed in the former Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the first International Chemistry Olympiad took place in Prague between 18th and 21st June 1968. The event has been held every year since then, with the exception of 1971. The delegations that attended the first events were mostly countries of the former Eastern bloc and it was not until 1980, the 12th annual International Chemistry Olympiad, that the event was held outside of the bloc in Austria.

All participants are ranked based on their individual scores and no official team scores are given. Gold medals are awarded to the top 12% of students, silver medals are awarded to the next 22% of students, and bronze medals are awarded to the next 32% of students. Honorable mentions are awarded to the top 10% of non medalist participants. One special award is given to the student that achieves the highest score overall. Two separate special awards are given to the students who get the best score in the theoretical and practical examinations.

Preparation for the International Chemistry Olympiad demands a high level of understanding and interest in chemistry and an outstanding ability to relate chemical subjects with one another as well as with the practical world.

Kristoff John F. Padilla, an incoming Grade 12 of PSHS-CMC, also represented the country but did not achieve a podium finish.

“If I ever do get the chance to participate again, I would definitely aspire more towards achieving victory, though I would not want to lose sight of my original goal, which was just to simply immerse myself in and be familiar with the subject that I was studying more about,” Padilla said.

China will host the 54th IChO.

About the Author

Aries Oliveros has written textbooks on grammar and creative nonfiction and is currently an executive assistant at the Office of the Executive Director of the Philippine Science High School System – Office of the Executive Director.

He was formerly Chief of the Curriculum and Instruction Division and adviser of the school paper The Central Scholar. He studied Bachelor of Secondary Education, Major in English at Philippine Normal University, Manila.

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