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California You Be The Chemist finalists (L to R) Brian Chap, Matthew Kim, Ayush Nabar, Brenden Gibson, Conlan Taylor and Sharleen Loh prepare for the final round of state competition. Courtesy photo
California You Be The Chemist finalists (L to R) Brian Chap, Matthew Kim, Ayush Nabar, Brenden Gibson, Conlan Taylor and Sharleen Loh prepare for the final round of state competition. Courtesy photo

By Andrea Papagianis

Brendan Gibson, an eight-grader from St. Edward the Confessor Parish School, who was crowned state champion in May, placed fifth at a national, academic competition challenging young, aspiring chemists.

“Brendan is an outstanding student,” said Fran Pijor, a science teacher at St. Edwards. “This is one of those teaching moments that I will always remember.”

After beating out local and state contestants in the You Be The Chemist Challenge, Brendan traveled to Philadelphia where he competed against the nation’s top young scholars on June 23. Nearly 25,000 students participated in this year’s challenge, of which 30 qualified for the national match.

In this quiz-bowl style academic contest, students are quizzed on chemistry concepts, scientific theories and chemical safety awareness. Participants battled through 10 thrilling rounds before Audrey Gallier, a sixth-grader from Brookfield, Illinois, was named the winner. Gibson took home fifth place.

“Each of these students has worked incredibly hard to make it to this level of the competition, and their enthusiasm for studying chemistry and its real-world applications is inspiring,” said John Rice, executive director of the competition’s founder, the Chemical Educational Foundation.

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