Students on Israel’s Chemistry Team won a number of medals at the International Chemistry Olympiad last month, including Israel’s first gold medal in a decade.
The 52nd International Chemistry Olympiad was hosted by the city of Istanbul in Turkey. The Olympiad, which held its first competition in Prague in 1968, is an annual academic competition for high school students. This year, 240 girls and boys from 60 countries participated in the event. Many of the contestants competed virtually via Zoom, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Israel’s team, which trained at the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry at the prestigious Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, was awarded a gold medal, two silver medals, and a bronze medal at the competition.
This year’s achievements were “particularly outstanding” as all team members won medals, an announcement said. The four high school students who formed Israel’s team included Roi Peer from Gan Haim, Bar Sheffer from Ein Vered, Ron Shprints from Ashdod, and Ward Yahya from Taibe.
The team was selected over a year-long process overseen by Professor Zeev Gross of the Technion’s Faculty of Chemistry, who also serves as Dean of the Unit for Continuing and External Studies, as well as heading a variety of national youth programs in chemistry, together with the team’s head coach, Dr. Izana Nigel-Etinger.
“Congratulations to our students who bravely shouldered the high preparatory demands and took on the maximum in real-time: a 5-hour theoretical test of more than 100 questions,” said Professor Zeev Gross, Technion’s Faculty of Chemistry and Head of Youth Programs.
“Notwithstanding the challenging times we face, our students stayed the course throughout the year, demonstrating an extraordinary level of perseverance and determination that ultimately paid dividends,” added Eli Fried, director General of Maimonides Fund’s Future Scientists Center.
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The training process was also assisted by ex-medalists Raz Lotan, an undergraduate student in mathematics, Assaf Mauda, who holds a B.A. and M.Sc. in chemistry and is currently a master’s student in computer sciences, and Ron Refaeli, an undergraduate student in chemistry, all at the Technion.
Schulich Faculty of Chemistry Dean Professor Moris Eisen and his head of administration Hanna Olshtein, program coordinator Shirley Kaplan and laboratory engineers Gabriela Halevi and Emma Gretz, also assisted in this comprehensive effort.
Israel has been participating in the Olympiad since 2006.
Since 2017, Israel’s Science Teams have operated under a joint venture between Israel’s Ministry of Education and the Maimonides Fund’s Future Scientists Center, who together have supported and managed Israel’s participation in the International Olympiads for high school students in four disciplines.
“The Maimonides Fund’s Future Scientists Center, together with the Ministry of Education, will continue supporting the highly gifted students that participate in Israel’s Science Teams, as an investment in the future of Israel’s scientific leadership,” said Fried.
“Israeli students, the country’s future generation, reach extraordinary international achievements in science competitions time and time again – even during this complex period, said Yoav Galant, Israel’s Education Minister. “The Ministry of Education will continue to invest in and support training of Israel’s Science Teams. This goes hand-in-hand in developing and boosting capacities of all Israeli students throughout the country, and providing equal opportunity for all students to maximize their potential across a range of fields.”