Carpenter wins chemistry contest

Enquirer HeraldApril 2, 2009 

CLOVER -- Got any idea what the base unit to measure pressure is in the metric system?

Wil Carpenter, an 11-year-old sixth grader at Crowders Creek Middle School knows, and the answer won him the South Carolina "You Be the Chemist Challenge" competition sponsored locally by BASF and nationally by the Chemical Education Foundation.

"Wil is the first state winner from the Clover School District," Lee Sykes, his sixth grade science teacher said.

The district has participated in the challenge each of the last four years. Clover is one of only four districts in the state that participates in the competition, the other York County districts also took part.

After winning at the school level, Carpenter competed against eight other York County students for the state title. He'll travel to Philadelphia for the national competition June 18-19. His trip will be paid for by the "You Be the Chemist Challenge," along with airfare for one of his parents, though both plan to go, Sykes said.

"It was kind of like a spelling bee, but it was multiple choice," Carpenter said.

Carpenter outlasted his opponents through five rounds of questions to claim victory.

"In sixth grade science, there's not really any chemistry," Sykes said.

To prepare, Sykes and other science teachers led their classes through some general knowledge practice tests and provided study guides.

"I read through the study guide and tried to learn it all," Carpenter said. "Now I have three study guides.

"I'm studying another study guide for (the national competition)."

Carpenter is part of the Gifted and Talented program at Crowders Creek, and Sykes said he does well in all of his classes.

"I've always liked science," he said. "It's one of my favorite subjects."

He is eager to get to high school where he can take an actual chemistry class and use the laboratory facilities there.

"I'd like to be a chemist and get to mess with all the stuff, all the pots and pans," he said.

He also likes spending time outdoors --camping, hiking, canoeing and kayaking -- and wants to study biology, too.

And Carpenter's winning answer: a pascal is the metric unit used to measure pressure.

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