Waikato Diocesan students win chemistry challenge

15 June 2018

(l-r) Waikato Diocesan School for Girls prize winners Day-eth Smit, Georgina Harris, Belinda Chong and Caitlin Ryan.

A team from Waikato Diocesan School for Girls was awarded first place at the annual New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (NZIC) Analytical Chemistry Competition held at the University of Waikato this week. The event involved 96 enthusiastic Year 13 students spending a day in the chemistry lab at the university, working on an experiment beyond the resources available at their schools. Pukekohe High School took second place, with a team from Trident High School in Whakatane third.

Competition judge and key organiser Associate Professor Michèle Prinsep said the students had to analyse the individual levels of nickel and sulphate ions in a sample of nickel sulphate and to use these values to determine how many water molecules were associated with each nickel sulphate molecule. “One pair from each group of four analysed their samples to determine the nickel ion content, while the other half of the team determined the sulphate ion level. Although this was quite a challenging task in the time available, a number of teams produced excellent results and the winning Waikato Dio team produced results that were very close to the true values.”

Twenty-four teams of four students from 19 schools across the Waikato/Bay of Plenty/South Auckland regions entered this year’s competition. Although rivalry was fierce, Dr Prinsep says the main emphasis was on enjoying the experience of working in a chemistry laboratory at the University and meeting students from other schools.

The winning team of Day-eth Smit, Belinda Chong, Georgina Harris and Caitlin Ryan received $240 and a trophy, with prize money also awarded to all other place-getters thanks to the competition sponsors, the Waikato branch of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (NZIC) and Hill Laboratories.