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Dutch National Chemistry Olympiad 2013 Won By Han Mertens

16 year-old Han Mertens from Malden in the Netherlands, a student at the Stedelijk Gymnasium in Nijmegen, has won the 34th National Chemistry Olympiad (NCO), ahead of around 4000 other participants.

(from left to right) Henny Egberink, SABIC's VP Manufacturing Europe Han Mertens, winner of the 34th National Chemistry Olympiad (NCO) Emiel de Kleijn, the committee of the National Chemistry Olympiad (Photos SABIC, PR075)

Three other competitors also shared in the prizes: Ronen Brilleslijper (JSG. Maimonides, Amsterdam), Christian Böhmer (Tabor College Werenfridus, Hoorn) and Ymro Hoogendoorn (Penta college CSG. Scala, Spijkenisse). The Dutch National Chemistry Olympiad is an annual competition between talented students of chemistry in secondary education from all around the Netherlands. The aim is to raise the profile of chemistry in secondary schools and to foster talent. The finals of the 34th Olympiad took place from 5 to 12 June 2013. SABIC, one of the world leaders in the chemicals sector, hosted the event at its European Headquarters in Limburg, in the south of the Netherlands.

Winners participate in the International Chemistry Olympiad

The four winners will represent the Netherlands at the 45th International Chemistry Olympiad, to be held in Moscow between 15 and 24 July 2013. High school students from more than 70 countries will compete in this international Olympiad. This will give the Dutch participants the chance to measure themselves against talented students from all around the world, and develop international contacts.

Prize Ceremony

The prizes were awarded in the Stateroom of the Provincial Authority in Limburg on June 12. Henny Egberink, SABIC's VP Manufacturing Europe and Emiel de Kleijn from the NCO conducted the award ceremony. Other speakers included: Erik Koppe, Member of Limburg's Provincial Executive, Frank Schaap, Director Marketing & Business Development, Chemelot Campus and Nelo Emerencia, Manager Education & Innovation at VNCI, the National Association for the Chemicals Industry in the Netherlands. Gé de Munk, a teacher from the Stedelijk Gymnasium in Leiden received the NCO Schools Prize for the best group of students in the preliminary round. SABIC will now hand over the NCO baton to the University of Amsterdam who will be organizing the event in 2014.

The National Chemistry Olympiad and finals week

The NCO is an annual event, with the aim of fostering interest and enthusiasm for chemistry as a profession among high school students. Participation in the Olympiad gives students an opportunity to excel. A total of 4000 contestants took part, and after two written preliminary rounds the twenty best students were hosted at SABIC in Limburg, one of the world's largest chemicals companies, where they carried out research into biodegradable polymers and flame retardants in plastics, as well as working on a steam distillation process. The theoretical element looked at corrosion problems in cooling installations and calculations were carried out on the dimensioning of a high pressure tube reactor.

Henny Egberink, SABIC's VP Manufacturing Europe: "This Chemistry X Factor is an excellent way to foster talent and raise the profile of the profession. The 20 finalists are challenged in many areas, covering both their knowledge and practical skills. They gain a unique insight into the world of chemistry and the role of plastics in our society. For SABIC it was a great pleasure to share our expertise with such highly talented and motivated youngsters, and to spread the word about the professional work of the chemist. Our hope is that the competition will inspire greater numbers of students to opt for a career in chemistry. We are delighted to learn that the majority of the participants will continue in this field. This is and will remain a profession with limitless opportunities. SABIC would like to thank all participants for their active involvement and heartily congratulate all the winners."

Emiel de Kleijn from the NCO: "The 20 finalists were highly motivated and eager to learn. They have a wide range of interests extending beyond the field of chemistry. Something else that emerged during the week was their talent for teamwork. The week wasn't just useful, it was a lot of fun. I would like to congratulate all the participants and the four winners in particular. The participants have had a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in chemistry with a leading company in the field. I wish them every success in their future careers!"

Sponsors and partners

The National Chemistry Olympiad is an initiative by the SLO, Stichting Leerplanontwikkeling, the National Center of Expertise for the Development of Learning Plans. The event was supported by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, SABIC, the Province of Limburg, Chemelot Campus, CHILL Innovation & Learning Labs, Vereniging van de Nederlandse Chemische Industrie (VNCI) [the National Association for the Chemicals Industry in the Netherlands], Nederlandse Vereniging voor het Onderwijs in de Natuurwetenschappen (NVON) [the Netherlands Association for Scientific Education], Gemeentelijk Gymnasium Hilversum, Lorentz Casimir Lyceum, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, het Instituut voor Toetsontwikkeling (CITO) [examination institute] and the Koninklijke Nederlandse Chemische Vereniging (KNCV) [the Royal Dutch Chemical Association]. Prizes were provided by Uitgeverij Malmberg, Noordhoff Uitgevers and Texas Instruments.

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