What is the You Be The Chemist challenge (YBTC)?
YBTC is a chemistry contest (“challenge”) for students in grades 5 through 8.
About 38,000 students from all over the US participate each year.
Students start by participating in their own schools (called the “Challenge qualifier”). Then, based on how well they do, they may sequentially move up. So, the levels are:
– “Challenge qualifier” (school level) – any 5th to 8th grade student can participate
The deadline for this and the study materials are discussed below.
– Local level
– State level
– National level (one student from each state)
Five reasons why schools should participate in YBTC
1. YBTC is based on students showing their knowledge of chemistry. No experiments or projects are required.
2. The material on which the students will be tested is provided by the organizers on their website at no cost to the students or the school. These features make it easy for both schools and students to get started with this competition.
3. At each level, students who do well get prizes, which encourages them to prepare for the competition.
4. Participating in the YBTC challenge helps students to prepare to do well in their chemistry classes and exams in high school.
5. Participating in the YBTC challenge is also good preparation for subsequently participating in academic Olympiads in high school.
Timeline and Deadlines
Schools should make note of the deadlines and make sure to register the school for participation by the deadline. Here are the deadlines:
By October 12, 2018: Challenge site registration (volunteers who are trained as “Organizers” to host local Challenge programs)
October 23, 2018 – January 22, 2019: Schools that want to participate need to register. A live link for this will become available on October 23, 2018.
February 1, 2019: The Challege Qualifier (school level) should have been administered and reported. This is administered by the local school to its own students. Those who meet a minimum score will proceed to the Local Challenge competitions.
February 16, 2019 – March 24, 2019: Local Challenge competitions will be held. The date will be decided for each local area.
April 6, 2019 to April 28, 2019: State competitions will be held.
June 17, 2019: National Challenge will be held in Washington, DC. The first place winner from each state will be invited to participate.
Check this link for important dates related to YBTC.
Here are links to the Study Materials
The study materials are provided by the Chemical Education Foundation. Though they note that “Questions are largely derived from information contained in CEF’s study materials but are not limited solely to this information,” their own study materials are definitely the most important thing to focus on.
There are three booklets they provide and that correspond to the different levels of the Challenge. Note: This is the material for the competitions held in 2018. The materials will be updated for competitions held in 2019.
1. The Core of Chemistry — for the Challenge Qualifier (i.e., school level) and the Local competition
2. Chemistry Connections — for the State competition, and
3. Chemistry Concepts in Action — for the National competition.
Here’s a link to Sample Questions for The Core of Chemistry.
Rules, Structure, and Format
Here’s a link to the Rules, Structure, and Format on their website.
How we can help
I was fortunate to get the first place in Pennsylvania in April 2015 and am happy to help students and schools prepare for the competition. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was fortunate to get the first place in Pennsylvania in April 2015 and am happy to help teams from other schools to prepare for the competition. You can email me at email@example.com.
The booklet The Core of Chemistry is 90 pages long with 86 pages of text. I will meet with the students once a week for 90 minutes each time and for 10 to 12 weeks.
The first session will be informational session about the competition and all students in grades 5 to 8 should be encouraged to participate. I will give an overview of the You Be The Chemist competition and give them many reasons that might motivate them to participate.
For subsequent sessions, reading from the booklet will be assigned in advance of each session. During our sessions, I will lead fun activities to help the students learn the material.
These will include: Jeopardy, “Mixed up flashcards,” crosswords, other puzzles, watching short videos, etc. All of these will be based on the material to be learned. We’ll also do multiple choice questions simulating the Challenge Qualifier exam.
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