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Williams student earns perfect score on Waterloo chemistry exam




As an aspiring medical student, Brian Park knows he needs to make the grade on chemistry and biology.

It's a goal he has kept in mind as an International Baccalaureate student at Dr. G.W. Williams Secondary School and it is knowledge he recently put into action with the University of Waterloo's prestigious Avogadro Exam. Attracting chemistry students from over 270 secondary schools, the average score for the exam is just under 60 per cent – but Park, a Grade 11 student, scored a perfect 100, an achievement made by less than a handful of the more than 3,000 participating students.

“I had a good feeling about the contest as chemistry was always something that interested me and a discipline I pursued out of school, but I never thought I would have come in first place since it is a contest taken by many students throughout Canada and the world,” said Brian.

Brian was first introduced to the exam by Karen Almeida, his IB Chemistry teacher, who encouraged all of her students to take the exam.

Following his perfect score, she said Brian's achievement was about much more than simple memorization of formulae.

“He puts forth meticulous effort into everything he does and he made time, in addition to his regular classwork, to prepare for the contest,” she said. “A perfect score on this contest doesn't come from memorizing facts or formulas, it comes from years of learning, understanding and practicing.”

Brian discovered his passion for the sciences almost as soon as he entered high school and quickly gravitated towards chemistry and how he could apply what he “learned within the classroom to the outside world.”

“This experience has given me an opportunity to see where my chemistry level was at and see whether it should be something I would be interested in pursuing,” he said. “I found it just reinforced it, not just because I did well, but while doing the contest I realized the reason most of the questions came very easy to me and that is because I had studied a lot of chemistry outside of school on my own.”

With one more year left of his IB program, Brian still has some time to think about what he wants to pursue in his post-secondary career. At the moment, he's interested in pursuing a career in bio-chemistry before tackling medical school with the ultimate goal of becoming a medical doctor.

“I just want to tell all students who may be reading this story to not be afraid to pursue whatever they may be passionate about,” he said. “Make use of all the opportunities you are provided with.  I initially took the Avogadro contest because it was simply a subject I liked, however, it fortunately led to this great achievement which I am extremely proud of.” 

Waterloo's Avogadro Exam is held for Grade 11 students taking their first high school chemistry course. Areas of study include structure of matter, bonding, reactions, solutions and gases. According to the University, it is designed to include “probing and demanding questions on some of the main topics of high school chemistry.”

By Brock Weir
Editor
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

 

 


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