German Student Chemists Come Up With Gold at Chemistry Olympiad
Enlarge image Germany's Florian Berger placed first in the competition out of 190 competitors in the final ranking. (© USA 44th IChO) In London, athletes from all over the world compete at the Olympic Games. Running, shooting or jumping, they are aiming at one thing only: a spot on the podium, winning a medal, if possible a golden one.
On this side of the Atlantic, the world elite just met to take part in a high-class trial of strength of a different kind. From the July 21 to 30 the 44th International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) took place in Washington D.C., bringing together students from 72 countries. For Germany, there were four participants: Florian Berger from Juelich, Toshiki Ishii from Cottbus, Frederick Stein from Erfurt and Patrick Pfaff from Mainz. All of them are currently in their final year of high-school (Gymnasium). The young Olympians finished with an outstanding ranking in the medal table, especially the gold medal of Florian Berger. For the first time in 20 years, a German ranked first in the competition. The team also won two silver and one bronze medal.
Enlarge image Germany's chemistry Olympians and their chaperones (© Germany.info)
In the competition, Florian and his teammates proved their skills on a theoretical as well as on a practical level. In one of their practical tasks, they worked with an isotope labeled compound. They also took an exam, which was five hours long, and tested their knowledge on various areas in chemistry. One of the questions regarded the synthetic steps to chemically produce a cancer therapeutic.
Andrea Noske, head of the science department at the German Embassy, was impressed by the achievement of the German delegation. At a reception at the embassy she lauded the four participants and emphasized the importance of the competition. The IChO underlines the attractiveness of subjects such as mathematics, natural sciences or technology, said Noske. Additionally, the students gain the possibility to network with other talented natural scientists from all over the world even before they go to university.
For Wolfgang Hampe, who has been consulting for and chaperoning the German team for 30 years, it was the last Olympiad. “I could not imagine a more beautiful ending for my work as a consultant,” said Hampe, who was honored by the international jury for his exceptional effort with standing ovations.
The IChO was first organized in 1967 and changes location every year. In 2013, it will take place in Moscow. Student teams out of 72 countries compete for awards. This year, a total of 283 students took part. In Germany, more than 1,100 applicants tried out for the international Olympiad, with only four being finally accepted.