WUCT was started in 2016 by a group of undergraduates, and we ran our first chemistry competition in April 2016. For the last two tournaments, 390 students have traveled to Washington University and competed in our competition. The 2018 tournament will mark WUCT’s 3rd year, and we plan to invite 50 teams from across the nation.
Any high school student in grades 9-12 on a full team is eligible for attending WUCT. Home schooled students who are in the corresponding grades are also eligible. We recommend students to participate in the competition if they have had at least one year of chemistry coursework at the high school level. Additionally, we recommend studying for the tournament with online tools and asking teachers for guidance for additional problems.
While this competition may use a general high school curriculum as a basis for the concepts covered, it expands and explores applications of these topics to different areas of study. This year, we are holding a topics rounds (similar to WUCT 2017), where our problems will involve applications to the human body, environmental science, and cooking. Participants do not need to have any background knowledge regarding these topics, as we will have students apply general chemistry concepts to these scenarios. Because the competition is intended to challenge high school students to use fundamental problem-solving strategies, we strongly recommend preparing outside the classroom. We have uploaded our sample and competition problems from the 2016 and 2017 tournaments. We will upload our sample problems for WUCT 2018 by early January.
WUCT places a strong emphasis on team-based approaches to solving problems, and all but one of our rounds involves teams working in either pairs or groups of 6 students. Therefore, we strongly urge teams to consist of 6 students as teams otherwise will be at a significant disadvantage throughout the tournament. If you are an individual or a group of less than 6 students and cannot find a team of interested students within your school, we recommend that you contact other individuals from within your state. If there is no interest from other students, please contact us, and we will try our best to accommodate you. Schools with full teams will be given preference for attendance over schools with incomplete teams if we reach our maximum capacity.
The competition provides students an opportunity to practice and apply their chemistry skills. This tournament is different from existing competitions in that we have dedicated our question writing to incorporate high school topics with biochemistry, engineering, and other real-world applications. We promote an environment where students think critically about problems collaboratively with their team members and justify their explanations rigorously. Our individual and team rounds will require various problem-solving techniques and strategic approaches that require a deeper understanding of fundamental principles rather than encouraging memorization of chemical ideas and concepts. Unlike the Chemistry Olympiad, all but one of our rounds have team members working together to solve questions. Because of the collaborative nature of the tournament, we expect that students distribute the workload according to different chemistry concepts, resulting a greater in-depth study of each topic.
While students take exams, teachers will participate in interactive faculty-lead workshops to discuss effective strategies and resources available that focus on establishing critical thinking and collaboration in their own classrooms. Teachers will have the opportunity to meet other coaches, students, and parents throughout the day and attend any break-time activities of their choosing. Teachers can also look over exams and answer keys once students finish. We may need the teachers to help proctor the team round later in the day.