Every Monday morning for the past month, a small group of dedicated MICDS AP Chemistry students have been preparing for battle. These students aren’t wielding artillery or guns…they’re brandishing burets.
A buret is a graduated glass tube with a tap at one end, for delivering known volumes of a liquid, especially in titrations. Titration, for those of us who have forgotten much of our high school chemistry classes, is a technique where a solution of known concentration is used to determine the concentration of an unknown solution. The titrant (the known solution) is added from a buret to a known quantity of the analyte (the unknown solution) until the reaction is complete.
Each year, the American Chemical Society hosts the Battle of the Burets competition. ACS calls the Battle a “peculiarly St Louis event” and invites high school chemistry students to compete to be the best titrators in the region by determining the normality of an unknown acid solution. In each round of the competition, teams have five minutes to arrive at their answer using any information they accumulate within that time period. They may perform a single titration, or they might perform two or three titrations and either average the results or pick the result that feels right to them.
Our AP Chemistry students placed 1st and 4th in the St. Louis Section, hosted last week at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Juniors Meredith Goldberg ’20 and Trisha Bhattacharyya ‘20 out-titrated the competition and took 1st, and Alex Migala ’20 and Jude Sorkin ’20 won 4th. Shibashis Mandal ’20 and Benjamin Hollander-Bodie ’20 also competed. Meredith and Trisha said, “We started off with not a lot of experience, but practice helped. It was an amazing experience, win or lose. It was great bonding with everyone and showing our growth as individuals.» Alex and Jude agreed, «It was 30 minutes of intense concentration – pun intended! At first, it was kind of stressful because we went into this having no experience in this type of competition. We got through and it was a lot of fun.»
There were 18 teams in total from the St. Louis Metro East, including Visitation, Cor Jesu, Mascoutah (IL), Villa Duchesne, Clayton and Parkway West.
Upper School science teachers Kelly Anderson and Justin Little served as coaches. They said, “We’re very proud of their success and overall enjoyment in the competition.” Congratulations to all our competitors!