The Southern California ACS local section launched its inaugural Chem Bowl this year for local college students who are ACS affiliate members. The event was hosted at Pasadena City College on April 12, 2014. Coming up short one team of their goal they offered to let the ChemClub at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School bring a team of current students and alumni to compete.
The ‘Hybrid’ team consisted of Bravo students C. Lim (team captain), K. Tat, and W. Fong, all rising seniors and two alumni members, A. Situ and Z. Markos, who are currently enrolled at UCLA. Both Situ and Markos had previously been semifinalists in the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad. The team was coached by long time Bravo Science Teacher and ChemClub Sponsor Michael Morgan.
The Competition in the Lab
The competition started with a titration challenge. The team was tasked with determining the concentration of a weak acid with previously standardized NaOH. Proctors observed their technique and evaluated each team.
Teams then were challenged to build a voltaic cell from a collection of metals and judged on which one produced the highest potential.
The third challenge of the day was a “Chemical Obstacle Course” where students determined the intermediates in a multi-step organic synthesis and then had to run through a maze and bounce house to retrieve cards showing the compounds and deliver them via a pulley system over a water obstacle.
The final challenge involved interpreting both NMR and IR chemical spectra of organic compounds.
Chemistry Jeopardy Playoff Rounds
The three highest placing teams spent the afternoon in a fast-paced buzzer competition based on National Science Bowl and Ocean Bowl rules. Bravo finished the morning second overall behind the team from UCLA. In the buzzer competition Bravo took a commanding lead over their first challenger Cal Lutheran from Thousand Oaks, CA whose team included one of their former classmates. In the final round they faced the team from UCLA, which included several current classmates of both Markos and Situ.
Bravo finished the day with a commanding lead over UCLA and First Place overall. They were awarded a “Perpetual Trophy” (a 6 L Erlenmeyer Flask mounted on a wooden base) that they will hold for one year and their names will appear on the trophy for future generations to see.
When asked about his students competing against college students Coach Michael Morgan responded: “What did we have to lose? If we came in last, we lost to a room full of college kids. If we won anything, we beat a room full of college kids.”