By Nick Andrei Tan
The Chemistry Department of De La Salle University (DLSU) once again played host to sixty-eight Grade 9 student-contestants, their respective coaches, and guests from thirty-seven high schools in and around Metro Manila for the 16th edition of the Chemistry Challenge, held on 23 January 2016 at the Natividad Fajardo-Rosario Gonzalez Auditorium of the Bro. Andrew Gonzalez FSC Hall. They were warmly welcomed by Dr. Robert Roleda, DLSU’s Vice-Chancellor for Academics, and Ms. Faith Marie Lagua, overall coordinator of the Challenge.
As the student-contestants were busy in answering the Challenge’s Elimination Round, their teacher-coaches and other guests attended the Prof. Richard F. Heck Chemistry Lecture Series, named after the late 2010 Nobel Chemistry Laureate who also served as an adjunct professor in DLSU’s Chemistry Department. Distinguished faculty members of the department gave captivating and relevant lectures. Dr. Rodolfo Sumayao talked about the roles of lysosomes in cells other than being a garbage disposal system. Meanwhile, Dr. David Peñaloza, Jr. enticed everyone about the opportunities in nanotechnology research and its numerous applications. After the two lectures, the audience was treated to a DLSU campus tour courtesy of the DLSU Chemistry Society.
The quiz-bee type final round consists of three parts — easy, moderate, and difficult rounds — each having ten questions. Student-contestants with the top ten scores from the elimination round are qualified in the final round. The battle for the top spot was not smooth at all, as there was a two-way tie between Jinger Chong and Adriel Jeremy Gaw, both hailing from Saint Jude Catholic School. After their intense clincher round, Chong was declared the champion, with Gaw settling for second. This marks the first time since 2008 that a school won on a one-two finish. Also, with Chong’s win, Saint Jude Catholic School successfully defended their championship title for the second consecutive year. It wasn’t the only clincher round, though: Christine Sagun (Sisters of Mary of Banneux, Inc.) and David Ethan Hwang (Xavier School) also fascinated the crowd in their battle for third place, which Sagun eventually conquered. In addition to winning a cash prize and trophy as champion, Chong also received an additional cash prize as the elimination round topnotcher.
The other finalists were: Etienne Joaquim L. Cancio (De La Salle University – Integrated School); Jan Reynald M. Melchor (San Beda College, Alabang); Christian V. Novicio (Sisters of Mary Schools-Adlas); Jilliane Clare N. Lu (Immaculate Conception Academy); Adrian Thomas G. Bandong (Learning Links Academy); and Sherwin John Y. Navarro (Xavier School).
Dr. Glenn Alea, Chair of the DLSU Chemistry Department, and Dr. Derrick Yu, Vice Dean of DLSU’s College of Science, were at hand to congratulate the finalists and their coaches.
The DLSU Chemistry Challenge is the longest-running inter-high school chemistry quiz bee contest for private schools in and around Metro Manila. Its main aim is to identify and recognize students with exceptional talents in the field of chemistry.