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Meet the Dutch chemistry geniuses

Oslo, June 30, 2015
Yara coached 20 brilliant students in their final round of the Dutch “National Chemistry Olympiad 2015” – now four of them are bound for the International Chemistry Olympiad finals in Baku, Azerbaijan. We wish them good luck!
Yara coached 20 brilliant students

In June, Yara Sluiskil was the official host of the Dutch National Chemistry Olympiad 2015 competition, coaching and testing the Netherlands’ most brilliant chemistry students. Out of the 6,000 initial contestants, 20 young geniuses, aged 16 to 18 years, made it to the final selection round at Yara Sluiskil.

The students received advanced lectures in chemistry, an introduction to various sustainability-related topics and practical training in Yara’s modern lab facilities to prepare them for the final examination. Yara’s experts were impressed, and sometimes even challenged, by the knowledge of the contestants.

“I much enjoyed the week with Yara. Everybody was very friendly and welcoming, and I learned a lot. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much Yara cares about the environment. Yara now has a special place in my heart,” said Marit Fiechter, 17, from Zwolle, Netherlands. She was one out of five female contestants and went on to become one of the four winners.

Bright young people

The students in Yara Lab

“It was an intense and great experience to share our professional knowledge and skills with these bright young people and stimulate their interest in the fascinating world of industrial and environmental chemistry,” said Hans Goossens, Urea Commercial Director and volunteer-lecturer.

Close to 50 Yara staff were involved in organizing this event, which also included guided visits to the YSK plant, the thriving port and industrial zone of Zeeland Province (Dutch province) and the nearby beach.

“In just one week, these students went from high-school-level chemistry to second- to-third-year- university-level chemistry,” said Gijsbrecht Gunter, Manager for External Relations and Communications, who organized the event. “The final tests were very difficult, but our students performed brilliantly, scoring very high marks,” he added.

Bound for Azerbaijan

“It is a dream coming true,” said Ruben La, 18, from Zwaag, Netherlands, after he was crowned the winner of the contest. His ambition is to become an independent scientist, and his first stop-over on that journey will be Azerbaijan at the end of July.

Five examiners from the Dutch National Committee of the Chemistry Olympiad corrected the tests and selected the Netherlands’ smartest chemistry students, who will go on to compete in the 47th International Chemistry Olympiad finals in Baku, Azerbaijan (July 20 to 29), against the winners from 79 other countries.

Fun and energizing

The winners
Four winners in orange – Marit Fiechter, Joris Gerlagh, Ruben La, Geert Schulpen

All 20 participants were honored during an awards ceremony, hosted by Yara in the charming historic city of Middelburg.

“It was fun and energizing to engage with these bright young people, and fully in line with Yara being a knowledge-based and knowledge-sharing company,” said Yara Sluiskil Director Jon Sletten. “It was a unique opportunity to profile the chemical industry as a responsible and key actor committed to developing solutions for the global challenges we are facing, but also as an attractive employer for motivated and talented young scientists.”

Check out the Dutch Chemistry Olympiad Facebook page (Dutch only), and stay tuned to see how “our” students get on in Azerbaijan. We wish them all the best of luck, and as they say in the Netherlands: veel succes!

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