Associate Teaching Professor of Chemistry Joseph Houck recently traveled to Paris, France to participate in the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO). Dr. Houck was recently named a mentor for the US National Chemistry Olympiad Team (USNCO), which allows him to work with some of the top high school chemistry students from across the country. The IChO program is a chemistry competition for high school students that aims to encourage and recognize talented young scientists. This year, over two hundred mentors and three hundred students traveled to Paris to participate in the event.
Although Dr. Houck was originally scheduled to participate beginning in 2020, when another mentor was unable to travel to Paris, he had an opportunity to begin his mentor responsibilities early. Aside from encouraging the students, Dr. Houck participated in the international jury to edit the student exam, translate the exam, inspect lab stations and evaluate the theoretical and practical exam. He also had the opportunity to mingle with mentors and scientists from over eighty countries.
“My time in Paris was good preparation for the role of mentor,” Dr. Houck notes, “I enjoyed networking with other scientists.”
Outside of preparing the exam, mentors enjoyed the ambiance of the city with day trips to cultural sites around Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, and Versailles.
However, Dr. Houck says his favorite part of the International Chemistry Olympiad was attending the closing reception. “I was in awe at the closing reception. It was great to see six hundred people come together and celebrate, knowing that the common theme was chemistry,” he explains, “it was great to see the students get excited about chemistry.”
Dr. Houck plans to begin preparing for the 2020 International Chemistry Olympiad in January.