You Be The Chemist 2017 Challenge
March 10, 2017
Southeastern Louisiana Unversity
You Be The Chemist Challenge is a joint venture between Southeastern Louisiana University and Tangipahoa Parish School System to increase student interest in STEM careers especially chemistry. The competition was held at Southeastern Louisiana University and hosted by the Department of Chemistry and Physics. A Denham Springs chemical company, Bercen (, is the sponsor for the competition.  The 2017 challenge included 300 students from 19 district schools.  The schools competing were Champ Cooper, Chesbrough, Greenville Park, Hammond Eastside, Hammond Westside, Independence Leadership Academy, Independence Magnet, Kentwood Jr, Loranger Middle, Lucille Nesom, Martha Vinyard, Natalbany Middle, OW Dillon, Ponchatoula Jr, Roseland Montessori, SLU Lab, Spring Creek, Sumner Middle, and Woodland Park. 
Students competing in the challenge took a written exam and participated with experiment stations prepared by Southeastern Louisiana University students and professors.  The highest scorers on the written exam competed in a quiz bowl to determine the district winners. District winners will compete at the state challenge to be held at LSU.  
District winners are first place Roger Robertson, Loranger Middle, second place Celia Herrera, Hammond Eastside, third place John Cranford, Martha Vinyard, and 4th place Shamitha Thumma, Hammond Eastside.  Pictured with the district winners are Theresa Hamilton, TPSS Chief Academic Officer and David Irwin, President of Bercen.
Students competing in the quiz bowl competition are as follows (not in order of picture):
Champ Cooper - Brooklynn Vaccaro
Hammond Westside -  Corey Boice, Nathan Gendron, Noah Holman, Izze Russell
Hammond Eastside -  Jacob Bankston, Melissa Cochran, Celia Herrera, Abigail Thompson, Shamitha Thumma
Jewel Sumner Middle - Ethan Bunney, Angela Pan 
Independence Leadership Academy - Alejandor Gutierrez 
Independence Magnet - Farrakhan Washington
Kentwood Jr - Mixey O'Brien
Loranger Middle - Ethan Howell, Roger Robertson 
Martha Vinyard - Austyn Akin, John Cranford, Adam Deslatte, Gavin Ehrensing 
Ponchatoula Jr - Shalayah Hunter, Ann LaCour, Cole LaCour, Zachary Montegomery
Roseland Montessori - Waylon Saragusa
SLU Lab - Samuel Echols, Ethan Stoulig 
quiz bowl
Mr. Kolwe, TPSS Superintendent speaks to the students and presents Mr. David Irwin, President of Bercen, with a poster students signed in appreciation for sponsoring the event.
 kolwe         kolwe irwin
Door prizes were also given for students and teachers during the quiz bowl competition. Bercen presented the students competing in the quiz bowl with t-shrits.

Experiment stations were conducted by SLU Dept of Chemistry and Physics professors and students.  All 300 students participated in the stations which included determining which dish soap made the best bubbles, experimenting with a plasma ball and Van der Graaf generator, can crush demonstration, making slime, and various activities presented by LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory from Livingston).  TPSS volunteers assisted students in making bracelets with solar beads.  
A special thanks to Bercen for the continued support.  Bercen is an innovative specialty chemical company that designs and manufactures chemical solutions.  They are a local company and support STEM education in Tangipahoa Parish.  It is their dream that our students will be the next generation of scientists.

Chemical Education Foundation sponsors the national competition ( "The YBTC Challenge is a fun and innovative academic competition that engages grade 5-8 students in learning about important chemistry concepts, scientific discoveries, and laboratory safety. Challenge competitions are exciting events that take place across the country, encouraging the collaboration of industry members, schools, and community organizations, as together, they educate students about the value of science education and the role of chemistry in their everyday lives."