This year, the Nordic Chemistry Olympiad was hosted by the University of Helsinki. In the competition, already organised for the fourth time, the best upper secondary school students interested in chemistry from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland challenged themselves by completing diverse theoretical assignments and laboratory work.
The four-strong Finnish team was composed of Ville Kukkola from Kajaani, Altti Mäkelä from Rauma, Heikki Simojoki from Tuusula and Jasu Vehtari from Espoo, all of whom recently completed their matriculation examination. University Instructor Kjell Knapas from the University of Helsinki served as the coach and mentor for the Finnish team.
Assignments and excursions
In the experimental part of the competition, the contestants had the opportunity to synthesise and analyse a complex compound containing copper and oxalate ions. Another goal was to determine the concentration of a solution containing iron ions through spectrophotometry.
In the theory assignment, the competitors calculated the energy states of pi electrons in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, considered the reaction kinetics of ATRP polymerisation and examined the binding of carbon dioxide with solid material. The hosts’ nationality was in evidence in assignments introducing the principles of atomic layer deposition and working out the total synthesis of camphor developed by Gustav Komppa.
In addition to the actual competition, the participants were able to enjoy an excursion to the Finnish Science Centre Heureka and the Porvoo refinery of Neste, a Finnish petrochemical company, in Kilpilahti. Getting to know the circular economy mindset at Neste aroused particular interest in the young competitors.
Solid performance by the Finns
Finns fared well in the competition, taking home two silver and two bronze medals. The second places went to Altti Mäkelä and Heikki Simojoki, while bronze was awarded to Ville Kukkola and Jasu Vehtari. The Danish team won the gold medals. In a class of his own, Thomas Falkenberg from Denmark achieved the top score of 95.7 out of 100.
At the conclusion of the Nordic Chemistry Olympiad, the participating countries headed for the International Chemistry Olympiad held in Paris, 21–30 July 2019.
Finnish team: Ville Kukkola, Heikki Simojoki, Altti Mäkelä and Jasu Vehtari.