A Field Trip for Chemistry Students


Bryanna Ferreira, Staff Writer

Honors and AP chemistry students show excitement for the annual Chemistry Olympiad at UMass in Amherst. The trip will take place Tuesday, March 13 with Ludlow High’s chemistry teachers Kerry Valentine and Barbara Piela.


UMass created this opportunity for chemistry students from towns in the area to explore chemistry topics and compete other students in several hands-on activities. “It’s interesting for students to see that things we do in class is also used in other places,” said Valentine.


This year, Ludlow High School will bring about 60 students, a large amount for Ludlow High’s fourth year participating.


“We can see how many students from other schools show interest in chemistry,” said Valentine. She enjoys watching her students interact with new people. About 10 schools participate annually including Northampton, Springfield, Agawam, and Chicopee. A few students from private schools make an appearance as well.


Students start the day with an exam which is scored by chemistry professors and graduates. The top scoring students continue to the next stage in which they compete in lab based activities. The success of the experiments determine the winner.


As Valentine puts it, “ultimately, students always try to win.” Unfortunately, LHS students never made it to the final stage of the competition. However, Piela reports that Ludlow High students won second place in the Chemistry Jeopardy Bowl, a smaller competition similar to jeopardy for students who do not take part in the lab-based activities.


In the afternoon, graduate students display presentations and research in order to show students what college chemistry entails. Valentine acknowledged the importance of the opportunity for students to see real graduate work completed by students only slightly older than them.


“I want to go to college to study biochemistry and this is a great opportunity to gain experience while I’m still in high school,” said Junior Lauren Teixeira, who signed up for the trip for the first time this year.


Students and teachers alike show excitement for the Chemistry Olympiad which creates a way for students to work in a new environment with new people.