ABU DHABI // Nine French senior high school students from Lycée Louis Massignon (LLM) and two Emirati youngsters from Al Ittihad Model School yesterday took part in the French national Chemistry Olympiad.
The event pits French-curriculum pupils from around the world against each other in a science competition.
This was the second time that students from the UAE have taken part in the annual exams, and organisers hope the numbers will increase next year.
Students volunteered to compete in the contest, which challenged them to make aspirin.
They have been studying for the event since October, taking additional classes and attending conferences as well.
The three-hour exam, held at LLM's laboratories, included a series of practical experiments and questions. The Emirati pupils were given the exam in English and the Lycee pupils in French.
Vanessa Moukarzel, 17, one of the French students, said the questions required a lot of thought as they did not provide a lot of detail.
"The questions that I am used to in the classroom were more informational," she said. "I am a bit nervous because I have not been good at experiments."
Vanessa said she created a system for herself to make the exam easier.
"I divided the three hours: half of it making sure the aspirin-making process was going well and the rest making sure I answered the given questions."
The first part of the experiment required the students to determine how many grams of Acetylsalicylic acid was in one aspirin, explained Thibaud Duchateau, 17.
"The practical side of the exam was easy," he said. "However, the questions were much more difficult."
Ahmed Al Hashmi, one of the Emirati students, said there were various ways to carry out the experiment.
"The questions were based on your understanding," Ahmed said. "We have done similar experiments in school and I hope my answers are correct."
The winners will be announced after the exam papers are marked by a group of teachers in Tunisia
The top two students will travel from the UAE to Paris to face more difficult exams in the competition, said Stephan Lampert, the science teacher at LLM.
"I am not doing these experiments for a result," he said. "What I like is being with my students and passing on my passion for chemistry and making it more appealing to them."