Chemistry competition win


Budding chemists: Ellanor Kanaan, Mariam Toufan, and Celine Vu, are at home in a science lab. Photo: Kitty Beale

A group of Bethlehem College Ashfield students have placed first in the NSW Schools Titration Competition.

The group Chemistry competition sees teams of three students enrolled in Chemistry for the Higher School Certificate work out the concentration of an unknown solution.  They have 90 minutes to test, calculate and average their results before an analytical chemist calculates their final scores.

Year 12 students Celine Vu, Mariam Toufan, and Ellanor Kanaan, all 17, displayed accuracy and skill in the competition held at Shore on June 13. The tests involved dropping a base solution from a burette into a conical flask of acid until its concentration could be calculated, then testing the concentration of the base with another acid. The process is repeated at least three times.

There’s a lot of precision in it.

– Ellanor Kanaan

Celine’s perfect result – 0 – meant she calculated the solution’s concentration accurately, while her teammates’ results were within .04 and .05 of this.

“It was so surprising because we learnt that you needed to get the results [of each test] close together and mine were spread out a bit, so I was kind of worried about that, but it turned out for the best,” Celine said.

Celine plans to become an industrial designer and said she appreciated the group work aspect of the competition.

“You need all three members to turn up or you get disqualified. Getting up at 5.30am for early practice in the morning also showed our commitment.”

Ellanor Kanaan, 17, said she would like to have a Chemistry-based career in the future.

“There’s a lot of precision in it [titration] and I found out I really like the control and patience you need.”

Mariam agreed.

“Even half a drop too much from the burette can ruin your results and calculations,” she said.

“Early every Tuesday morning, we’d practice the experiment method to refine our technique because you’ve got to be really precise.

“We all have some kind of interest in Science and Chemistry really incorporates that.

“The competition shows you what Chemistry is about and gives you a good indication of what the subject itself is like and what further studies could entail.”

The NSW Schools Titration Competition is held each year by the NSW Chemical Education Group of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute Incorporated.

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