28th March 2017

Alexander Wins Gold in Prestigious Chemistry Olympiad

Personal Excellence

Alexander Wins Gold in Prestigious Chemistry Olympiad

For the first time in the history of the College, a pupil was entered into the prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry’s UK Chemistry Olympiad. Alexander Fruh (S6) performed exceptionally in this competition, winning a Gold Award for his effort. 

This year, five and a half thousand pupils entered, with only four hundred of them obtaining a Gold Award. This is the most challenging competition set by the RSC and is open nationally to pupils in sixth year in Scotland and sixth form in England. Very few Scottish pupils enter this competition.

A small committee of teachers from schools and universities spends a great deal of time and effort coming up with what they think are interesting and challenging questions on real and relevant chemistry, raising awareness of what the subject is all about. Tackling the paper also provides a good opportunity to develop some of the skills required for study at university and beyond. There is no doubt that these questions are demanding: they do not rely on recall of information which students will have met before, but instead on thinking and trying to work out answers to unfamiliar questions.

Mr Anderson, Head of Chemistry, said: “What made Alexander’s result all the more impressive is that he only decided to take part a couple of days before he sat the test and the content covered was unfamiliar to him – much of the chemistry was pitched at a level beyond Advanced Higher. Fortunately Alexander’s excellent numerical skills came to the fore as there was a good deal of Maths throughout the test.”

Questions in the Olympiad varied greatly, and Mr Anderson recollects: “the first task that Alexander faced was to understand the chemistry behind the Green Pool of Rio – when the diving pool turned a lurid green colour, this was then followed by how to synthesise ‘twistane’ a buckled hydrocarbon!”

Congratulations to Alexander for his outstanding achievement.