ACS New York Section

Chemistry Olympiad Committee

2008 Annual Report

Stephen Z. Goldberg
Professor of Chemistry, Adelphi University
2008 Olympiad Coordinator


   This report on the 2008 Olympiad takes the same form as my reports on the 1999-2007 Olympiads, although in 1999 and 2000 these were called preliminary reports.  This report
summarizes some of the most important items pertaining to the 2008 Chemistry Olympiad and makes some comparisons with Olympiads for the period 1999-2007.  In 2003 additional tables giving detailed information indicating the high schools that participated and the distribution of students among the testing sites were included for the first time.  Also included for the first time in 2003 was a table showing those schools which participated in 2002 but not in 2003.  Similar tables are included in this report.  A table indicating the dates at which schools registered for the Olympiad was included for the first time in 2004.  That practice is continued here.  In this report, some information previously provided about the National Exam as part of the running text is now given in tabular form.

1) Participation and Results:

   Nationally, approximately 11,000 students took the local exam.  In the New York Section a total of 393 students from 56 different high schools registered to take the local exam.  The local exam was scheduled to be administered on March 1 (9 sites) and March 2 (3 sites).  These sites and the site coordinators are listed on page 9.  Of the students who registered, 326 actually took the exam.  The percentage of registered students taking the exam was 83.0%.  The high score on the exam was 57 (perfect score = 60), the low score was 13.  The average score was 37.23, with a standard deviation of 11.35.  The names, schools and scores for the students scoring 51 or above on the local examination are given on page 10.  The National Exam was administered at two locations, Purchase College of SUNY on Saturday, April 12, and Adelphi University on Sunday, April 13.  Based on the size of the New York Section, 20 students were allowed to continue to the National Exam level.  Prior to 2005 the section had been allowed only 19 students.

   Of the 868 students who took the National Exam 100 students attained honors and 50 attained high honors.  These numbers were established by the national ACS.  Of the 20 New York Section students who took the National Exam six obtained honors and one obtained high honors.  As compared to 2007 more New York students were recognized with honors or high honors, but fewer of the recognized students obtained high honors.  Anna Chithelen, the one student who obtained high honors, was invited to attend the Study Camp.


A summary of performance of New York State participants for the National Exam is included here:

                                                              1999    2000    2001    2002    2003    2004    2005    2006    2007   2008
Number of students                    19       18(1)     20(2)   20(3)   19         20(2)   20(4)    20        20        20
High Score                                 54        59        59        54       58         56        56        57        56        57
Low Qualif. Score                      45        49        46        47        51        50        50        50        49         51
Honors                                        3         4           1          3         6          5          4          6           1          6
High Honors                               3          2          3          1         4          4          1          1           3          1

        (1)Although New York was entitled to 19 participants one student did
           not show up for the National Exam.
        (2)Since one student from the previous year had attended the Study Camp
           we were entitled to one additional slot for the National Exam.
        (3)There was a problem involving the citizenship status of one student, and
           as part of the resolution of this problem the national office granted us one
           additional slot for the National Exam.
        (4)As a result of a reapportionment from the national office of ACS the section
           was allocated 20 slots for the national exam.

2) Recommendations:

The following are my most important recommendations.  They are based on my ten years of experience as the Olympiad Coordinator.

(a)  In addition to the Olympiad coordinator, the section should have an Olympiad publicity committee so that the event can be better publicized in local and school media.  (This recommendation has been made in each year since 1999 but has not been implemented.)  The lack of such a committee was particularly important in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and again this year,  since in each of those years one of our students qualified for and attended the National study camp in Colorado Springs.

(b)  The 2000 recommendation that registration forms should include a space for identifying the gender of each student has been adopted and this greatly assists the coordinator in the preparation of correspondence to students.  It was also recommended in 2000 that it would be helpful if the registration form had a space to indicate whether or not each student is or will be U.S. citizen by the date of the National Exam.  This has not been done due to lack of space, but perhaps the form can be reformatted to accommodate this information.

(c)  Answer sheets for the local exam should not be purchased from the ACS.  ACS answer sheets were used in 1999, but the Scranton device available could only be used for the first 50 questions.  The final 10 questions had to be hand graded.  Since 2000 we have purchased 500 of the 882-ES Scantron answer sheets directly from Scantron Corporation.  Not only was the cost less than the cost for a smaller number of answer sheets purchased from ACS, but we were able to machine grade and analyze all 60 questions on the exam.  This practice should be continued.
(d)  There continues to be extensive use of the Sunday sites.  Students taking the local exam on Sunday do not do so solely for religious reasons, but also because of the proliferation of special Saturday programs for students.  This year the Saturday date was also the date of the SAT exam, and therefore the Sunday sites were used much more extensively than in the past. An additional Sunday site, the Horace Greeley School in Chappaqua was used.  As recommended in the past, we might also wish to have additional Sunday sites in Manhattan and/or Suffolk.

(e)  The Staten Island site, which we first used in 2001 as a replacement for the Hudson County site, is still sparsely used, but should be retained if possible.  We should continue to work to encourage more students from Staten Island and Hudson County to participate in the Olympiad.  There has been some modest interest in again having an additional site in Hudson Country.

(f) The use of Queens College in Queens provides good geographical distribution of sites.  We should continue to include a Queens test site for the local exam.

(g)  The adoption, in 2001, of a policy that permitted schools to register up to six students per registration form, but also permitted a school to register up to twelve students by submitting two registration forms and two registration fees (although as a single check) has worked very well.  This policy should be continued.

(h)  Although one person, the coordinator, should be responsible for receiving and distributing materials it is important to have a standing committee to which the coordinator can turn if s/he has policy issues to deal with.  This recommendation, which was made previously, has not been implemented.

(i)  The registration fee was raised from $20 in 1999 to $25 in 2000.  The fee has remained $25 since then.  Part of the reason for raising the fee was to provide funds for small gifts to the site coordinators and the laboratory technicians.  No policy on gifts has been established.  As a result, gifts were not purchased in either 2000 or 2001.  Some recognition of the time and effort expended by the site coordinators and the laboratory technicians is most appropriate.  In 2002 I purchased Olympiad pins from the national office of ACS and sent them to the site coordinators and laboratory technicians as a token of appreciation.  In 2003 I again purchased pins from the national office of ACS.  Additionally I sent a bouquet of flowers to Maria Reichlin-Fishkis, the lab tech at Purchase College of SUNY.  In 2004 periodic table pens were given to the site coordinators, national exam proctors and lab tech personnel.  Consideration should be given to other ways of how we might show these people our appreciation.  In 2005 no gifts were given to the site coordinators, but flowers were sent to Maria Reichlin-Fishkis.  In 2006 and 2007 no gifts were provided to either to Maria Reichlin-Fishkis or to the coordinators.  For 2008 no gifts were provided to the site coordinators, but flowers were sent to Maria Reichlin-Fishkis (out of pocket expense by S. Goldberg).

 (j)  The department of the Olympiad coordinator provides stationary, phone and fax facilities as well as some secretarial support.  Since the Olympiad usually generates some net income, it might be appropriate to provide a modest monetary reimbursement to the coordinator's department.  Alternatively a book might be purchased and donated to the coordinator's department or school library.  This recommendation, made previously, has not been implemented.
(k)  This is a recommendation based on experience in 2002.  It is recommended that each site coordinator review the local exam prior to the date it is administered.  If any typographical errors are found that information should be conveyed to the Olympiad coordinator so that all sites have the same set of corrections which need to be made.  Additionally the Olympiad coordinator should communicate any errors that have been discovered to the ACS Olympiad.

(l)  In 2002 an experimental national policy permitted as many as three students from a single high school to take the National Exam was considered to be an experiment.  In 2003 the previous policy allowing a maximum of two students from any school was reinstated.  The New York Section should work to have the experimental policy reinstated and made permanent.

(m)  For 2003 the Board of the New York Section authorized the payment of a stipend of $50 to graduate students who proctored the local exam.  This policy has been continued.  There should be clear guidelines regarding under what circumstances proctors should be used and how many proctors should be at any site.

(n)  The registration fee adopted in 2000 remains adequate to cover the expenses associated with the Olympiad, but the Board might consider increasing the fee.  Another option is to have a surcharge of perhaps $5/registration for schools which register after the official close of registration.  In 2006 one third, and in 2005 more than half the schools registered after the official closing date.  In 2007 a larger percentage registrations came in before the registration deadline than in previous years, only 9 registered late.  In 2008 only 7 schools registered late.   See Table 2 on pages 16-17 for a listing of the dates schools registered.

(o)  Once again, in 2008 information about the Olympiad, including registration materials and directions to all test sites, was available via a link on the home page of the web site of the New York Section.  This should be done each year.  It is not recommended at this time that schools be able to register via the web site, but web based registration is something we might wish to consider.

3) Local Examination Sites:

   All the sites from 2007 were again available for 2008.  Additionally, as a result of the local examination being given on the same day as the SAT there was a request that we have a Sunday testing site in Westchester.  Mr. Richard Goodman of the Horace Greeley School offered to serve as a site coordinator and administer the test at his school.  The site drew a large number of students and we should continue to use it if it remains available to us.

4) National Exam Sites:

   Both Purchase College of SUNY and Adelphi continued as National Exam sites.  Like 2000, 2001 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 but unlike 2003 there was a highly uneven distribution of students between the two National Exam sites.  Six students took the National Exam at Purchase, and fourteen students took the National Exam at Adelphi.  The distribution was not totally the result of religious or geographic considerations although these factors were important in some cases.

   Students who take the National Exam are often involved in various programs that meet on Saturday mornings.  We might reconsider the value of giving the National Exam on both Saturday and Sunday.  An alternative would be to administer the National Exam only on Sunday at one or two sites.  Given the geographic range of the section the use of two sites would be better for the students.  The use of one site is simpler in terms of organization.  Since both Purchase and Adelphi have been National Exam sites for quite a number of years it is probably appropriate to look to see if other institutions could serve in this capacity.  Although there is no reason to believe that either Adelphi or Purchase will not be available as National Exam sites for 2009 it cannot be assumed that they will continue in this role indefinitely.  The requirements for a National Exam site are a laboratory facility capable of accommodating 20 students and lab technicians to prepare the equipment and chemicals.

5) Finances:

   Registration fees were received from 56 high schools, generating an income of $2075.  Expenses of $2044.37 are summarized on page 11.  The net income for the event was $30.63.  As was the case since 2003, but not prior to that, the total given for expenses includes the cost of printing and mailing the original invitation to schools to participate in the Olympiad.  The expenses for the January 2008 printing and mailing was $670.64; the same expense in 2007 was $475.14.  For 2006 the cost was $637.35.  Since 2006 the cost of the printing and mailing have been obtained directly from the section office spreadsheets.

   In 2003 the board of the New York Section, at the request of Lesley Davenport, authorized the payment of stipends of $50 to graduate student proctors.  This practice has been continued.  It has been longstanding practice at NYU for the exam to be proctored by a graduate student.  The exam at Queens College was also proctored by a graduate student.  Also, as was first the case in 2003, money was allocated to cover the costs of a laboratory assistant at Adelphi.  In 2003 $200 was provided to Adelphi, but since 2004 and again this year, a payment of $100 was made directly to the student assistant.  In 2008 the student assistant was Jonathan Roy.

6) Comparison of the 1999-2008 Olympiads:
   This section, which had been section 6 in reports up to and including that for 2003, was moved in the 2004 report.  Since that report, and now, it is section 10 (see pages 7-8).  Because the comparison now extends over ten years the page must be printed in landscape format, and it is for this reason that the section has been moved.

7) Supplemental Tables:

    This report continues the practice introduced in the 2003 report of including supplemental tables.  The four supplementary tables are:
     1) Table 1 (pages 13-15) lists the participating high schools and the number of students each
           school registered and the each site.
    2) Table 2 (pages 16-17) lists the dates on which schools registered for the Olympiad
    3) Table 3 (pages 18-20) lists the number of students registered for each site and  how many
          students were registered at each site by each high school.  This table also contains totals
          for comparable data from 2003-07.
     4) Table 4 (page 21) lists those high schools which participated in the 2007 Olympiad but
          which did not participate in the 2008 Olympiad.

8) Thanks:
    In addition to thanks for the help and support provided by the coordinators at the test sites, I would like to express my special thanks to Blanche Crawford, secretary of the Chemistry Department at Adelphi for her administrative assistance; to Virginia Briguglio of Adelphi for her assistance in the grading and analysis of the local exams; to Stuart Close of Ossining High School for proctoring the National Exam at Purchase College of SUNY, and to Maria Reichlin-Fishkis (Purchase) and Jonathan Roy (Adelphi) for their help in setting up and dismantling the laboratory portion of the National Exam.  Richard Goodman of the Horace Greeley School was a first time site coordinator.

9) Passing the Torch:

    I have served as the Olympiad Coordinator since 1999 and as a National Exam proctor for two years prior to that.  I have found the job to be time consuming but also extremely interesting and rewarding.  I have saved all my computer files (WordPerfect 8) pertaining to the administration of the event and correspondence with students and teachers.  Additionally, at the suggestion of the NY Section Board in 2001 I maintain, or at least try to maintain, an activity log of what is involved in coordinating the Olympiad.  The log and my computer files would be helpful to the next Olympiad Coordinator, and I would be happy to work with that person and share the knowledge I have gained over the past ten years.  At the Board meeting in September 2003 Ron D’Amelia volunteered to learn what is involved in coordinating the event.  Each year, beginning with the 2004 Olympiad he has been copied on most of the correspondence involved and this practice was continued in 2008.  I really do enjoy being the Olympiad Coordinator and would be willing to continue in that role if the Section would like me to do so.  If I continue as the Olympiad Coordinator I will work even more closely with Ron next year.


10) Comparison of the 1999-2008 Olympiads:

                                                  1999        2000          2001          2002           2003          2004            2005                     2006
Number of schools                    57            70              50(1)          53(2)          64(2)          60(2)            67(2)                    60(2)
Students registered                    324          373            319            337             467            404               445                       458
Students taking local exam       253          307            262             266             393            332               378                       393
Percentage taking local exam    78.1        82.3            82.1            78.9            84.2            82.2             84.9                        85.8
High Score                                54           59              59               55               58               56                56                          57
Low Score                                 6            13               10               13               11               11                10                          13
Average Score                          30.45      35.02          34.02           33.39          35.31          35.91            34.43                    36.18
Std. Deviation in Avg.              12.24      11.36           11.22          11.66          11.70           12.08           11.75                    10.42
Income                               $1140.00 $1750.00    $1875.00    $1675.00    $2350.00      $2125.00     $2300.00            $2250.00
Expenses                            $1033.07 $1007.38    $1029.02   $1197.73     $2348.53(4) $1992.00(4) $1750.56(4)        $2286.82(4)
Net income                  $  106.93         $  742.62  $  845.98    $  477.2      $      1.47       $  133.00    $  549.44             ($   36.82)

                                                         2007              2008
Number of schools                            62                  56(3)
Students registered                            474               393
Students taking local exam               319               326
Percentage taking local exam             67.3               83.0
High Score                                         56                 57
Low Score                                          16                 13
Average Score                                   37.06             37.23
Std. Deviation in Avg.                       10.08              11.35
Income                                        $2325.00         $2075.00
Expenses                                    $1929.65(4)     $2044.37(4)
Net income                                 $  395.35        $    30.63

(1)  In 1999 and 2000 registration was limited to six students/school.  In 2001 schools could register up to six students for a $25 registration fee, or up to twelve students for a $50 registration fee.  Of the 50 schools registering students in 2001, 25 schools registered six or fewer students and 25 schools registered 7-12 students.

(2)  Of the 53 schools registering students in 2002, 39 schools registered six or fewer students and 14 schools registered 7-12 students.  Of the 64 schools registering students in 2003, 34 schools registered six or fewer students and 30 schools registered 7-12 students.  Of the 60 schools registering students in 2004, 36 schools registered six or fewer students and 24 schools registered 7-12 students. One school, Lawrence High School registered twice, since two teachers each registered two students.  Thus, in the financial summary it appears as if there were 61 schools but in fact there were only 60 different schools.  Of the 67 schools registering students in 2005, 42 schools registered six or fewer students and 25 schools registered 7-12 students.  Of the 60 schools registering students in 2006, 30 schools registered six or fewer students and 30 registered 7-12 students.  Of the 62 schools registering students in 2007, 30 schools registered six or fewer students and 32 registered 7-12 students.  However, because of the confusion at the St. John’s site in 2006 I gave the Mary Lewis Academy the right to register up to 12 students for $25.

(3)  Of the 56 schools registering students in 2008 30 registered six or fewer students, 25 registered 7-12 students, and Horace Greeley school, by special permission registered 15 students.

(4)  For 2003 the total expenses include the cost ($509.93) of the bulk mailing of approximately 1400 pieces to announce the Olympiad to the high schools.  This cost had not been explicitly included for previous years and that should be taken into account when comparing expenses and net incomes.  Also the cost of materials for the laboratory portion of the 2003 National Exam was considerably higher than in previous years.  For 2004 the cost of the bulk mailing was $468.44.  For 2005 the cost of the bulk mailing was $443.61.  For 2006 the cost of the bulk mailing was $637.35.  In 2006 the laboratory portion of the National Exam cost $196.52 which was also greater than in most years.  For 2007 the cost of the printing and bulk mailing was $475.14.  For 2008 the cost of the printing and bulk mailing was $670.64



     1)    ROCKLAND/BERGEN                    Mr. Jonathan Wedvik
            Clarkstown High School South            845-624-3475
             31 Demarest Mill Road                       845-623-5470 (fax)
            West Nyack, NY 10994-1515    
     2)    STATEN ISLAND                             Dr. Roy H. Mosher
            Department of Biological Sciences      718-420-4072    
            Wagner College                                  718-420-4172 (fax)
            Staten Island, NY 10301            
      3)    BROOKLYN                                     Dr. Lesley Davenport
             Department of Chemistry                    718-951-5000 x2825
             Brooklyn College of CUNY               718-951-4827 (fax)
             2900 Bedford Avenue              
             Brooklyn, NY  11210

     4)    QUEENS                                           Mr. Joshua Mukhlall
           Dept of Chemistry and Biochem.         718-997-4100
           Queens College of CUNY                   718-997-5531 (fax)    
           65-30 Kissena Blvd                       
           Flushing, NY 11367-1597                

     5)    MANHATTAN                                 Ms. Erin Plati
            Dept of Chemistry, Room 1001          212-998-8454
            New York University                          212-260-7905 (fax)
            31 Washington Place                
            New York, NY  10003
     6)    NASSAU COUNTY                         Dr. Stephen Z. Goldberg
            Department of Chemistry                   516-877-4147
            Adelphi University                             516-877-4485 (fax)
            Garden City, NY  11530           

     7)    NASSAU COUNTY                         Dr. Stuart Karp
            Department of Chemistry                   516-299-2013
            Long Island University                       516-299-2492 (central office)
             C.W. Post Campus                            516-299-3944 (fax)
            Greenvale, NY  11548              

     8)    SUFFOLK COUNTY                       Dr. Joseph Lauher
            Department of Chemistry                   631-632-7925
            SUNY Stony Brook                           631-632-7880 (central office)
            Stony Brook, NY  11794                    631-632-7960 (fax)

     9)    WESTCHESTER/ROCKLAND      Dr. Joseph Skrivanek
             Division of Natural Sciences             914-251-6634
             Purchase College of SUNY               914-251-6635 (fax)
             Purchase, NY  10577               


    10)    Yeshivah of Flatbush                        Mr. Paul Cohen
             1609 Avenue J                                 718-377-1100
             Brooklyn, NY  11230             

    11)    Rambam Mesivta                             Mrs. Rebecca Isseroff
             15 Frost  Lane                                  516-371-5824
             Lawrence, NY  11559                      516-371-4706 (fax)

    12)    Horace Greeley School                  Mr. Richard Goodman
            70 Roaring Brook Road                  914-861-9282
            Chappaqua, NY 10514                     914-238-8228 (fax)