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The Northern Lights are created from 'curtains' of energy and magnetism entering the Earth's atmosphere
“The Challenge is an amazing opportunity for young scientists to show what they know and compete in a healthy, friendly environment.”

-Max Troyke
2013 Challenge Participant

You Be The Chemist ChallengeYou Be The Chemist Challenge

The You Be The Chemist (YBTC) Challenge® is an exciting academic contest that uses the drama of competition to encourage grade 58 students to explore important chemistry concepts, scientific theories, and laboratory safety. Think spelling bees or quiz bowls but with science questions!

The Challenge:

  • Introduces students to the central role of chemistry in all of the sciences and in their everyday lives.
  • Promotes science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
  • Provides educators with a fun, interactive way to educate their students and assess their learning.
  • Encourages parents to participate in their child's education.
  • Allows industry members to connect with their community and actively show their support for science education.

The Challenge is an individual (not team based) competition and operates on three competitive levelslocal, state, and national. Each year, educators administer a multiple choice Qualifying Exam to identify the top students from their school who will advance to their Local Challenge competition. In states with more than one Local Challenge site, top students from each Local Challenge advance to a State Challenge competition in April. The top student from each state wins an expenses-paid trip to the National Challenge (together with a chaperone!) in Philadelphia in June. CEF creates the educational content, industry and community members organize and/or sponsor the events, and educators reinforce science concepts with all of their students through the supplemental study materials.

The 2014 National Challenge was held on June 23 at The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. 

                       Download our Challenge brochure!

How do I get involved?

CEF is always looking to get more students, schools, and community partners involved in the excitement of the Challenge! Please contact CEF at challenge@chemed.org or at 571/482-3039 to learn how YOU can get involved.


I'm a parent...    

Check out the Local Challenge page to see if there's a Challenge site in your area. Then, complete the Parent Inquiry Form and send it to challenge@chemed.org. We'll let you know how to get your child involved!


I'm an educator...

There is no cost for a school to participate in the Challenge. The only requirement is to administer the multiple choice Qualifying Exam to identify the students who will move on to the Local Challenge. CEF encourages educators to review the Challenge study materials with students, but this is not required. To learn more, please complete the Educator Inquiry Form and send it to challenge@chemed.org. We'll let you know how to get your students involved! 


I'm an interested volunteer...

Please visit the Local Challenge Organizer page to learn more about coordinating a Challenge site. Once you've taken a look, please complete the Volunteer Inquiry Form or the Industry Inquiry Form and send it to challenge@chemed.org. We'll let you know how to get started! 


For more information about each level of the Challenge follow the links below:  

Local Challenges Find out if there's a county/city competition in your area!
State Challenges See when and where State Challenge competitions are happening.
National Challenge The 2014 National Challenge competition was held on June 23 at The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. Information about the 2015 National Challenge will be posted next year.

Important dates

See below for important dates for the 2014-2015 Challenge cycle. Please note that all dates are tentative and may change.

September 15, 2014
Local Challenge site registration opens for Organizers
(Schools must register for their Local Challenge site through their Local Challenge Organizers)
Study materials for the 2014-2015 cycle are posted to the Study Materials page
December 2014 - March 2015
Participating schools administer the Qualifying Exam to identify who will move on to the Local Challenge competition
February 1, 2015
Local Challenge registration deadline
(All Local Challenge site and school registrations and participation data must be submitted)
March 28, 2015
2015 Local Challenge competitions deadline
April 25, 2015
2015 State Challenge competitions
June 22, 2015
2015 National Challenge


Rules & Participation Requirements

The 2014-2015 Challenge Guidelines will be posted in late summer 2014. See below for a list of basic participation requirements.

  • Participants must NOT have passed beyond grade 8 on or before April 1, 2015.
  • Participants must NOT reach the age of 15 before July 1, 2015.
  • The participant, the participant’s parent/guardian, or school official acting on the participant’s behalf, must NOT have declared to another entity an academic classification above grade 8 for any purpose.
  • Participants may NOT compete in a Challenge competition in which their parent, legal guardian, or other family member is a Challenge competition judge or Organizer.
  • Once a participant has won the National Challenge, that participant is ineligible for future participation in the Challenge.
  • A student who is identified as having a physical impairment which substantially limits one or more of the student's major life activities may require reasonable accommodation to participate in the You Be The Chemist Challenge. Please contact your Local Challenge Organizer to make arrangements for reasonable accommodation at least 14 days prior to the school-level Challenge (Qualifying Exam) or at least 30 days prior to the Local Challenge event (as applicable) in which the participant wishes to compete. Please contact the CEF staff at challenge@chemed.org to make arrangements for reasonable accommodation at least 30 days prior to the State and National Challenge events that the participant is qualified to attend.


Study Materials

Updated materials for the 2014-2015 cycle will be posted to the Study Materials page on September 15.


YBTC Challenge Style Guidelines

Official CEF and YBTC Style Guidelines (Must Read)