Budding RGS chemists shine

TEN budding Ripon Grammar School chemists shone in a prestigious international science competition.

The gruelling challenge consisted of a two-hour written paper full of chemical conundrums, well beyond A-level standards.

Up against 14,915 entrants from 1,025 schools throughout the UK, four RGS students were awarded coveted gold certificates in the UK round of the 56th International Chemistry Olympiad.

This places them in the top 8.3% of candidates nationally who scored 30 marks or above, with one RGS student, Samarth Dasarathi, scoring a remarkable 21 marks above that, with a score of 51.

Six further RGS students, who all volunteered to sit the test, were among the impressive 25% of entrants who gained silver and 36% who picked up bronze.

Samarth, from Burton Leonard, who is studying maths, further maths, physics and chemistry at A-level, described it as one of the most difficult papers he has ever tackled.

“There were lots of different questions on a range of organic and inorganic topics, and lots of new mechanisms and weird maths questions in the paper.

“All of the questions had hard sections and most of it was unique to this test, so revision didn't help,” he said.

The paper covered topics such as the composition of the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup trophy, iodate salts, fuel-producing bacteria, the MRI contrast agent gadopiclenol and sulfur-containing molecules in the atmosphere.

Samarth, 18, who competes at international level in karate and plays guitar and drums, said he was surprised to be awarded gold after the test, which is organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Planning to study mechanical engineering at Imperial College London, he added: “I didn't think I had done very well. Everyone else who sat the test felt the same, so I'm really happy to get such a good result.”

Sophie Redman, Royal Society of Chemistry education executive and competition organiser, confessed that this year’s paper was more challenging than last year’s, but that this was reflected in the grade boundaries, with more than 70% of students who took part nationally receiving awards.

“I would like to congratulate all the students who took part in the first round of the UK Chemistry Olympiad. We are delighted to see a big increase in the number of students participating, year on year, and we extend our thanks to all the teachers who gave their time to facilitate this stage of the competition,” she said.

* Congratulations to: Samarth Dasarathi (G); Ewan Saunders (S); Kai Newby (G); Anna Bradley (G); Ionas Gilbert (B); Toby Naish (S); Zoe Falokun (S); Anna Garnett (S); Sam Mulligan (G), Josiah Baker (S)