Last year Homeroom At Home had the pleasure of attending the National You Be The Chemist Challenge held at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, where we met some of the contestants and their families. Here’s a look back at last year’s You Be The Chemist Challenge.

As this year’s National YBTC Challenge approaches (June 24th), we are excited to learn more about the program, competition and education efforts of the Chemical Educational Foundation. While the national competition holds a lot of excitement, especially since we’re coming right up on the date – the excitement isn’t just getting started, but in fact, students across the US have been enjoying this chemistry program’s fun for months.

So what’s the program if it’s not just competition?

The Chemical Educational Foundation established the You Be The Chemist program as a creative way for educators [note: I include parents in this category] to present and teach concepts of chemistry and science to students in a way that they will not only understand but truly get excited about. The YBTC program consists of the YBTC Challenge (competition), YBTC Activity Guide for educators/parents and YBTC Essential Elements, a hands-on workshop to help teachers enhance classroom experience in using the YBTC program materials.

The Chemical Educational Foundation’s mission in creating the entire You Be The Chemist program was “designed to enhance K-8 science education by introducing the science of chemistry as it relates to our everyday lives and to the study of other sciences” with goals as follows according to www.chemed.org/media:

  • Enhance science education through innovative techniques, such as hands-on activities and chemistry competitions

  • Inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and chemical industry leaders

  • Effect long-term change in the general public’s understanding of, participation in, and general acceptance towards chemistry and the chemical industry

  • Provide opportunities for collaborative initiatives between chemical industry members and the communities in which they operate

The You Be The Chemist (YBTC) Challenge engages children in grades 5th through 8th in a peer-based “interactive academic competition in learning important chemistry concepts, scientific discoveries, and laboratory safety.” An excerpt from https://www.chemed.org/ybtc/challenge/home states that the Challenge offers the following benefits:

  • Introduces students to the central role of chemistry in all of the sciences and in their everyday lives.

  • Uses the drama of competition to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

  • Provides educators with an exciting way to educate their students and assess their learning.

  • Encourages parents to participate in their child’s education.

  • Allows industry members to connect with their community and actively show their support for science education.

Sounds like fun – how do you get started?

The Chemical Educational Foundation makes it easy to get connected with an existing YBTC group or to start your own. Click here to find out more information. Note, however, that schools aren’t the only place that groups are formed, but local science clubs or the Boy Scouts are examples of other groups that have taken advantage of this opportunity. Make sure you read the guidelines for competition rules and such. Resources are available by clicking here for the study materials.

What is the incentive for making it to the National competition?

The upcoming National YBTC Challenge will be held again at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. This is an exciting time for the students who’ve won their regional and state challenges and are preparing for this final round. But it is so much more than that… more than a competition on several levels. The students that are participating in the national competition have the opportunity to meet with chemical industry leaders, educators and businessmen and women. They have the opportunity to visit with local science attractions and celebrate their accomplishments in a welcome dinner and a celebration dinner both held at local science museums. The package is an amazing opportunity for those who’ve earned a place at the national competition level – oh yeah – and there are participant prizes!


And what if competitions aren’t our thing or my children aren’t old enough for the YBTC Challenge?

Parents, you can download the material and activity guides (grades K-4 or 5-8) for your own family science fun. Perhaps with a couple of cousins or neighbors – select a few simple projects for the kids to enjoy and learn together. The materials are comprehensive, making the lesson easy with everyday household items and enjoyable for grown-ups and students alike. The educator’s Activity Guide is an excellent resource for weekend or summertime learning fun. I particularly appreciate the section on “Tips for teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)” as the tips are just as applicable for parents wanting to engage their children in such topics, as well as teachers. Parents, you hold a tremendous amount of influence when it comes to educating your children – I encourage you to tap into that power and see where your collective interests and efforts take you.

In addition, The CEF site offers “Newton & Kelvin’s Laboratory” with interactive web activities, games and online flashcards for the Periodic Table.

Resources for this post include the variety of materials provided by the Chemical Educational Foundation website. This is a non-sponsored post, whereas I was not compensated. All the opinions expressed herein are strictly mine.