HUDSON -- A team of six Hudson Middle School students competed in the March 4 'You Be the Chemist' challenge at Great Lakes Science Center.

Hudson Middle School students qualifying for the competition included: Quinn Berichon, William Carvahlo, Hannah Ma, Carl Roessler, Thomas Banko and Andrew Constable.

One of those students, Thomas Banko, finished second and will move on to the state competition in April.

The middle school team faced teams from Harding Middle School in Lakewood, Wilcox Elementary in North Ridgeville, Lewis F. Mayer Middle School in Fairview Park, Albert Einstein Academy in Westlake, Menlo Park Academy in Cleveland and North Ridgeville Middle School.

The challenge, sponsored by Palmer Holland a national chemical distributor located in North Olmsted, was open to all Hudson Middle School students. However, the students had to qualify via a written exam, according to science teacher Rebecca Reese.

A total of 28 students initially qualified. After several sessions and a second test, the top six made the team and competed March 4, according to Reese.

"Students answered questions based on chemistry concepts," Reese said. "We competed against four other schools in the greater Cleveland area."

Each of the six students was given a T-shirt for participating.

The program was introduced to the district by Hudson parent Ron Zmich, an employee of Palmer Holland who has been working with the students on science-based enrichment activities.

"The YBTC Challenge is an interactive academic competition for fifth-through-eighth grade students focusing on chemistry concepts, history and safety...a Chemistry Academic Challenge, if you will," Zmich said. "The program begins with a local county challenge and progresses to a state challenge and finally a national challenge."

Palmer Holland took over as organizer/administrator of the You Be The Chemist Challenge initiative five years ago according to Zmich, executive advisor for the Greater Cleveland Local Challenge effort.

"The challenge is promoted by the Chemical Education Foundation for both Cuyahoga and Summit counties."

Zmich said the challenge is an electronic question/answer competition that engages students in grades fifth through eighth in learning about important chemistry concepts, historical discoveries and chemical safety. Free study materials are provided by the Chemical Educational Foundation to help students prepare for the challenge, he added.

"As an industry sponsor of the program, Palmer Holland covers all registration fees for those students participating in the local, state and national challenges," Zmich said. "Similar in format to the National Spelling Bee, the top three places from our local challenge move on to the Ohio state challenge."

The winner of the state challenge will progress to the national challenge to be held in Washington D.C. in June.

"Prizes are awarded to winners at all phases of the challenge," Zmich said. "The national champion will win prizes and a scholastic scholarship of $10,000."

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