Young scientists with a flair for Chemistry will head to the Playbox Theater at Naugatuck Valley Community College for the You Be The Chemist Challenge® on Saturday, April 30. The competition is an interactive academic competition for students in grades 5-8 that uses the excitement of competition to encourage students to study chemistry concepts and their real-world applications. The Challenge was created by the national nonprofit organization the Chemical Educational Foundation® (CEF). There are school, local, state, and national levels of Challenge competition. While the Challenge is an individual competition, students must attend a participating school in order to participate in the Challenge. Each Challenge cycle begins with participating schools administering a multiple choice test, called the Challenge Qualifier, to determine which students from a given school will advance to the next level of competition.
The Challenge competitions are quiz-bowl style competitions with several rounds of multiple-choice questions. In states with multiple Local Challenges, the Local Challenge competitions are usually held in February and March. In states with just one competition, such as Connecticut, there is a Local Challenge that also serves as the State Challenge. The Challenge Champion from each state then receives an expenses-paid trip to the National Challenge, a three day event in Philadelphia, PA where students compete for scholarships, other various prizes, and the title of National Challenge Champion! As many as 30 students will participate in the Challenge at NVCC from five area schools or programs including City Hill Middle School, Naugatuck, CT; Fairfield Enrichment Club, Orange, CT; Great Oak Middle School, Oxford, CT; Rochambeau Middle School, Oxford, CT and Saint James School, Stratford, CT. The College welcomes the Challenge to their campus each year.
The Challenge was created in 2004 with just three states participating in the first year. Challenge participation has grown steadily each year and in the 2015-2016 Challenge cycle, the program will reach just over 50,000 students in 37 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The program has had a presence in Connecticut since the 2008-2009 Challenge cycle. There are five schools participating in the 2016 Connecticut Challenge. The participating schools are located in Fairfield and New Haven Counties and vary from public to parochial to after-school enrichment groups.