Junior excels in chemistry competition


Akshaya Kannan, junior, will travel to Carroll College on April 22 to take the national Chemistry Olympiad test after placing sixth out of 105 participants in the local competition last month.

“Chemistry Olympiad is a local and national competition where students take a very difficult chemistry exam and compete with other local or regional students as far as who does the best on that exam,” said Kris King, chemistry teacher.

Kannan qualified for the national test in the preliminary round against local students.

“There are three stages to [Chemistry Olympiad], this was the first one, this was the local one… a 60 question multiple choice test, and then a tie breaker section that is short answer,” Kannan said. “Anyone who places in the top ten would move on to nationals.”

In the national competition, Kannan will compete against more than a thousand other students on a more difficult exam.

“I’m really nervous because it’s going to be three times as hard,” Kannan said. “This one’s going to be 60 multiple choice for the first part, and then for the second part there’s going to be a critical thinking portion. For the third part you have to do two labs … it’s all within a span of close to five hours.”

The top 20 scorers in the national competition will continue on to a study camp from which four students will be chosen to represent the United States in an international competition.

According to King, Kannan’s performance at the local level was impressive.

7 akshaya
(Olivia Loomis) Akshaya Kannan, junior, is all smiles after placing 6th in the state Chemistry Olympiad competition. Kannan will compete nationally this April.

“She was very self motivated to do this … She scored sixth, well above average for AP chemistry students taking the test,” King said.

Kannan attests her performance to preparation and help from King.

“I used their previous exams that they put online, … then I checked my answers. Anything I was doubtful on I would ask … Mr. King and he would explain to me how to do it,” Kannan said.

Kannan was also motivated from a previous experience with the test.

“I also did Chemistry Olympiad last year as a first year chemistry student and found it very difficult … I didn’t qualify for nationals that time, but it motivated me to do it again and aim much higher this time,” Kannan said.

Because of the heightened level of difficulty on the national exam, Kannan will up her preparation for the test.

“They also have previous years’ [national] exams posted on the website so I’ll take a look at that … I’ll take a look at the types of labs they expect us to do and then what types of critical thinking questions they will ask,” Kannan said.

Erin Szablewski, junior and Kannan’s classmate, said her success is well deserved.

“Akshaya’s passion for chemistry is really impressive … it’s amazing to be able to see her achieve success in something she loves,” Szablewski said.

Although she is nervous, Kannan looks forward to the national competition.

“I’m really nervous, but I’m really excited because I was thrilled to qualify for it,” Kannan said.

King is proud to see Kannan’s success.

“She should be very proud of herself, and I am very proud of her,” King said.

Kannan is thankful for King’s help and looks ahead with excitement.

“I’m really thankful to [King] for helping me … I ask so many questions often, … he’s always open to them all the time,” Kannan said. “I’m definitely nervous for nationals but equally as excited.”

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