The regulations of the IChO

Every serious competition must have its firm rules and one can say that they are the mirror of the competition. The regulations of a competition must give to an observer some general imagination about the event. 

           The process of creating some firm regulations of the IChO competition is a long story. It started on May 15th, 1968 when a meeting was organized in Ostrava (Czecho-slovakia) with the aim to create some basic rules for the international competition, called later as International Chemistry Olympiad. The representatives of the National committees for chemistry olympiad from three countries (Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland) took part in it. The final report contained the following seven points as a proposal for the preliminary regulations:

  1. The aim of the competition: Competitions of this kind should promote friendship and co-operation among the pupils, closer contacts among the young scientific workers, and exchange of pedagogical and scientific experience.
  2. Who is the organizer: Ministry of Education of the organizing country.
  3. When the competition should be organized: At the end of the school year.
  4. Who can participate: Pupils of the secondary school without a special chemical specialization.
  5. National team consists of pupils and accompanying persons (teachers).
  6. The IChO will consist of two parts: theoretical and experimental.
  7. The IChO is a competition of individual pupils, not a competition of teams.

These first regulations were approved on June 21, 1968 during the 1st IChO.

           The situation in IChO movement was changing during the next ten years to such an extent that it required changes in the regulations. After a missing the IChO in 1971 a new proposal of the regulations (at that time it was named as “Statute”) was prepared in 1972, this time with a approval of the ministries of education of the socialist countries. This version of regulations was discussed and approved by the international jury of the 4th IChO in Moscow.

           After the years 1974 and 1975 the situation in the IChO changed again since some western European countries showed interest to take part in this international competition.     

In those years the world political situation changed substantially since the Helsinki Final Act was signed by 35 nations (among them also the Soviet Union and USA and all European countries) as an agreement that concluded the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The act was intended to revive the sagging spirit of detente between the Soviet Union and the United States and its allies. 

           After this change of political situation it was difficult to bring any relevant arguments against the participation of the western countries in the IChO. Naturally, it was necessary to include the changes into the IChO regulations. Since the IChO in 1977 was planned to be organized in Bratislava the Slovak Ministry of Education asked the Commission of ChO to prepare a proposal of new IChO regulations. A new proposal of the regulations was prepared by Anton Sirota, the member of the Slovak Committee of the Chemistry Olympiad, and it was then thoroughly considered by the participants of a special international workshop that was organized in the spring 1976 in Stirin near Prague. The simultaneous interpreting helped very much in discussions. Finally the corrected proposal was prepared for a discussion of the international jury of the 8th IChO in Halle and finally approved in 1976 in Halle.  

           The situation in IChO movement was changing during the next ten years to such an extent that it required changes in the Regulations. The attempts to improve the regulations were made in 1986, 1990 and finally in 1994 (Oslo, Norway).

         In 1995 a new version of the regulations of IChO appeared as a proposal of the Slovak delegation and was given to all members of the IJ in a printed form. It was a version reviewed by jurists and was proposed so that it would:

-   be more binding for both organizers and participants,

-   solve mutual competencies and responsibilities of particular bodies of IChO 

    (International Jury, Steering Committee, Organizing Committee),

-   create preconditions for avoiding conflict situations in the future. 

           Features of the changes in the new proposal were as follows:

1.   Some paragraphs were rearranged.  

  The rearrangement of the paragraphs concerned:

-     their numbers and placement in the text, 

-     their sections (some of them were transferred from one paragraph to another               one).       

2.   Small corrections in the text

      According to specialists' recommendations some parts were formulated more      precisely.  

3.   Greater changes in the text

      Some new sections of the particular paragraphs were introduced where new conditions, limitations or responsibilities were       proposed.    

4.   Substantial changes in the text.

          The new version required a partial change in the concept of the regulations. It concerned especially the mutual responsibilities and competencies of the particular executive bodies of IChO (Organizing Committee, International Jury and Steering Committee). After discussions in the international jury in the years 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 the final regulations of the IChO were born in 1999.    

           The regulations accepted in 1999 showed to be a progress in composing the limits for requirements that were expected from this international chemistry competition. However, this process did not stop al all.  New versions of regulations were accepted in 2008 (Budapest), 

2010 (Tokyo),

2011 (Ankara)

2013 (Moscow), 

2017 (Bangkok)  

2018 (Prague) 

           The version of the regulations approved in 1999 (Appendix I) proved to be surprisingly good enough what concerns the composition of the particular chapters, paragraphs and sections. The comparison of both versions, i. e. version 1999 with that from the year 2018 (Appendix II), gives a surprising results that both versions are very similar what concerns their compositions. Naturally, the latest version is a little bit changed in accordance with new requirement of the IChO competition. 


Regulations

of the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO)

G e n e r a l   S t a t e m e n t 

§ 1

Aims of the competition

           The International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) is a chemistry competition for students at secondary school level with the aim of promoting international contacts in chemistry. It is intended to stimulate the activities of students interested in chemistry by way of the independent and creative solution of chemical problems. The IChO competitions help to facilitate cordial relations between young adults of different nationalities; they encourage cooperation and international understanding. 

O r g a n i z a t i o n   o f   I C h O

§ 2 

Organization and invitation

(1)      The IChO is organized every year, as a rule at the beginning of July, in one of the participating countries by the Education Ministry or an appropriate institution of the organizing country (hereafter referred to as the organizer). 

(2)      Unless directed otherwise by the International Jury, the organizer is obliged to invite all countries that participated with a team during either of the preceding two IChO competitions. The official invitation to participate in the forthcoming IChO should be sent to countries by the November preceding the competition. The countries invited must confirm their participation in the IChO according to requirements of the organizer. 

(3)      Countries not automatically invited to the IChO must apply to the organizer by the end of November preceding the Olympiad. The organizer invites these countries to the Olympiad based on the recommendation of the Steering Committee. Participating countries are expected to select representative teams in an open process. 

Newly invited countries must send an observer to two consecutive Olympiads before its pupils can participate in the IChO. The observer participates in Jury meetings and all Olympiad procedures as a non-voting member in order to learn about the content and procedure of the competition.

§ 3 Delegations

(1)      Each participating country's delegation consists of competitors and accompanying persons (also known as mentors). It is expected that there are four competitors and two mentors in the delegation. Furthermore, the countries may include two scientific observers as part of their delegation. 

(2)      The competitors must not be university students. They can only be students of secondary schools that are not specialized in chemistry and, if they have already graduated before the 1st of May of the year of the competition, the organizer must be informed as to the month and year of their graduation. Moreover, they must be under the 20 years of age on the 1st of July of the year of the competition. The competitors must be passport holders of the country they represent or have taken part in the secondary school educational system of this country for more 2 than one academic year. All members of a delegation must provide themselves with medical insurance for the journey to and from the organizing country and for the period of their stay in the organizing country. 

(3)      The mentors: 

a)        act as members of the International Jury (see § 6). One of the mentors is designated as            the head of delegation (head mentor). 

b)        must guarantee the fulfillment of those conditions specified in section 2 of this            paragraph, 

c)        must be capable of translating the text of the competition tasks from English into the      language used by their students and be able to judge the set of tasks and correct the  work of the students. 

d)        have the right to enter a protest which should be addressed to the Chair of the Steering            Committee and, when necessary, ask for a resolution of the problem at the next       meeting of the International Jury. 

§ 4 

Obligations of the Organizer

(1)      The organizer provides: 

a)        the itinerary of the IChO, 

b)        transportation from/to an airport/station (which is designated by the host country) on the  day of arrival and departure, 

c)        that the organization of the competition will adhere to the regulations, 

d)        accident insurance for all participants in connection with the itinerary, 

e)        the opportunity for the mentors to inspect the working room and practical apparatus to   be used for the practical tasks before the competition takes place, 

f)         all necessary arrangements for the observance of safety regulations, 

g)        the medals, certificates and prizes, which are presented at the official closing           ceremony, 

h)        a report on the competition to be distributed not later than six months after the competition.

(2)      A meeting of the Steering Committee must be hosted in the organizing country at least 5 months prior to the IChO. The organizing country will provide some travel assistance. 

§ 5 

Financing

(1)      The participating country covers the return travel costs of the students and the accompanying persons to the designated airport/station or to the location where the competition is held.

(2)      Participating countries must pay a participation fee, the amount of which must be approved by the International Jury. 

(3)      Scientific observers pay a participation fee. The amount is determined by the organizer and must be announced at least one year ahead. 

(4)      All members of a delegation must provide themselves with medical insurance for the journey to and from the organizing country and for the period of their stay in the organizing country.

(5)      All other costs incurred in connection with the organized program, including the costs of accommodation for all competitors and members of the International Jury, are covered by the organizer. 

(6)      The organizers of the next two consecutive Olympiads may send two observers to the current IChO with their expenses covered by the host as mentioned in § 5, section 5. 

Institutions of the IChO

§ 6 

International Jury

(1)      The International Jury of the IChO consists of the head mentors from the countries participating in the olympiads. The term of the Jury starts at the opening ceremony of the olympiad and finishes at the opening of the following olympiad. 

(2)      The chair of the Steering Committee or his/her delegate calls and chairs the meetings of the International Jury. 

(3)      The working language of the International Jury is English. 

(4)      Each participating country has one vote. Resolutions are passed with a simple majority            of the votes cast. Changes in the regulations require a qualified majority of two thirds of       all Jury members. The decisions of the International Jury are binding for both organizer          and participants.

(5) The discussion of the tasks may take place in two simultaneous meetings (split sessions) where the head mentors delegate a representative to discuss and vote on a subset of tasks. 

§ 7

Responsibilities of the International Jury

(1)      The International Jury: 

a)        is in charge of the actual competition and its supervision according to the regulations, 

b)        approves future organizers for the IChO, 

c)        discusses in advance the competition tasks presented by the organizer, their solutions     and the marking guidelines, gives comments and takes decisions in case of changes, 

d)        supervises the marking of the examination papers and guarantees that all participants   are judged by equal criteria, 

e)        monitors the competition and suggests changes to the regulations, organization and      contents for future IChOs, 

f)         makes decisions on the exclusion of a participant or an entire team from the           competition (see also § 11, section 7), 

g)        elects members of the Steering Committee of the IChO, 

h)        may form working groups to solve specific chemistry related problems of the IChO. 

(2)      The members of the International Jury:

a)        are obliged to maintain a professional discretion about any relevant information they     receive during the IChO and must not assist any participants, 

b)        keep the marking and results secret until announced by the International Jury. 4 

§ 8 

Steering Committee

(1)      The long term work involved in organizing the International Chemistry Olympiads is coordinated by the Steering Committee. 

(2)      Members of the Committee are elected by the International Jury by a secret ballot to serve a two year term. There must be at least one person from each of the following regions: the Americas, Asia and Europe. Other three members can come from any region. The term of the elected committee begins on the 1st day after the IChO. Members are elected for no more than two consecutive terms. 

(3)      There are the following ex-officio members of the Steering Committee: 

a)        a representative of the current IChO, 

b)        a representative of the immediately preceding IChO, 

c)        representatives of the subsequent IChOs approved by the International Jury, 

d)        the immediate past chair of the SC (for one year only) 

(4)      The incoming Steering Committee elects its own Chair from among its elected     members at a meeting held before the committee’s term begins. 

           The Chair: 

a)        calls and chairs the meetings of the Steering Committee, 

b)        calls and chairs the meetings of the International, 

c)        may invite non-voting guests to the meetings of the Steering Committee after       consultation with the host of the meeting, 

d)        has the right to call extraordinary meetings of the International Jury when necessary. 

(5)      The Steering Committee: 

a)        provides organizational oversight for the International Chemistry Olympiad and gives            recommendations to the organizers, 

b)        proposes items for consideration at the International Jury sessions. 

c)        may co-opt 1–3 non-voting members for their particular expertise for periods of one            year. 

d)        may invite representatives of confirmed future IChOs. 

(6) The Steering Committee is not empowered to make any decisions affecting the International Chemistry Olympiad that would interfere with the duties and responsibilities of the International Jury (see § 6 and 7).

§ 9 

International Information Center

           There is an International Information Center of the International Chemistry Olympiads gathering and providing (when necessary) all the documentation of the IChOs from the beginning of the Olympiad to the present. The seat of the Office is in Bratislava, Slovakia. 

C o m p e t i t i o n

§ 10 

Preparation for the IChO competition

(1)      The organizer distributes a set of preparatory tasks written in English to all participating countries in January of the competition year. The preparatory tasks are intended to give students a good idea of the type and difficulty of the competition tasks, including safety aspects (see §12 and Appendix A and B). SI units should be used throughout the preparatory tasks. 5 

(2)      The total number of theoretical and experimental tasks in the set of preparatory problems cannot be lower than 25 and 5, respectively. 

(3)      Appendix C of the regulations contains a list of concepts and skills expected to be mastered by the participants. Organizers may freely include questions and tasks in the theoretical or experimental competition based on the knowledge listed there. The organizer can include problems in the exams based on the use of concepts and skills from not more than 6 theoretical and 2 practical fields outside this list, if a minimum of 2 tasks from each field is included and the necessary skills demonstrated in the set of preparatory problems. Examples of such external fields are listed in Appendix C. Fields not already listed should have a breadth similar to the examples. These 6 theoretical and 2 practical fields must be stated explicitly at the beginning of the Preparatory problems. If an equation not covered by the listed fields is required for the solution of the exam questions, then this should be defined in the exam text. 

(4)      Appendix D contains an outline of the factual knowledge supposedly familiar to the competitors. If specific facts, not included in Appendix D, are required for the solution of the exam questions, then these should be included in the exam text or in the preparatory problems and their solutions. 

(5)      Training or any other special instruction, that is carried out for a selected group of 50 or fewer students, containing the IChO team, must be no longer than two weeks. 

§ 11 

Organization of the IChO Competition

(1)      The competition consists of two parts: 

a)        part one, the practical (experimental) competition, 

b)        part two, the theoretical competition. 

(2)      A working time of four to five hours is allotted for each part. There is at least one day of rest between the two parts. 

(3)      Competitors receive all relevant information in the language of their choice. 

(4)      There must be no contact between mentors and competitors once the mentors have received the competition tasks for consideration. Information regarding the competition tasks must not be passed to the competitors directly or indirectly prior or during the competition. 

(5)      When pocket calculators are not provided by the organizer, only non-programmable pocket calculators may be used in the competition. 

(6)      The safety regulations announced by the organizer are binding for all participants. 

(7)      Breaking of any of the rules given in the preceding paragraphs (§ 3. section 2, § 10 section 5, § 11 sections 4, 5, and 6) has as its consequence exclusion from the whole or a part of the competition. 

§ 12 

Safety

(1)      During the experimental part, the competitors must wear laboratory coats and eye protection. The competitors are expected to bring their own laboratory coats. Other means of protection for laboratory work are provided by the organizer. 6

(2)      When handling liquids, each student must be provided with a pipette ball or filler. Pipetting by mouth is strictly forbidden. 

(3)      The use of acutely toxic substances (GHS hazard statement H300, H310, H330) is strictly forbidden. The use of toxic substances is not recommended, but may be allowed if special precautions are taken. Substances with GHS hazard statements H340, H350, H360 (proven mutagens, carcinogens, and teratogens) must not be used under any circumstances (see Appendix B for definitions of these categories). 

(4)      Detailed recommendations involving students´ safety and the handling and disposal of chemicals can be found in Appendices A 1, A 2, and B. 

a)        Appendix A 1: Safety Rules for Students in the laboratory. 

b)        Appendix A 2: Safety Rules and Recommendations for the Host Country of the IChO. 

c)        Appendix B contains a reference to the hazard symbols and statements of the Globally           Harmonized System of Classification of Chemicals (GHS), the use of which is expected            in labeling and classifying materials used at the IChO.

§ 13

Competition Tasks

(1)      The organizer is responsible for the preparation of competition tasks by competent experts/authors, who constitute the Scientific Board of the IChO. They propose the methods of solution and the marking scheme. 

(2)      The tasks, their solutions and the marking schemes are submitted to the International Jury for consideration and approval. The authors of the tasks should be present during the discussion. 

(3)      The Chair of the International Jury may put the Chair of the Scientific Board in charge of the proceedings when the tasks are considered. 

(4)      The total length of the theoretical or experimental tasks, including answer sheets, should be kept to a minimum and not exceed 25,000 characters. The number of characters must be stated at the end of each exam paper. SI units should be used throughout the competition tasks. 

(5)      In the experimental part of the competition the following conditions must be fulfilled: 

a)        The experimental part must contain at least two independent tasks. 

b)        The marking cannot require subjective interpretation by the staff. 

c)        Competitors must receive the same substances when solving the tasks from qualitative            analytical chemistry. 

d)        When solving tasks from quantitative analytical chemistry competitors must receive the            same substances but with different concentrations. 

e)        In evaluating the quantitative tasks the master values must not be based on an average          of the results of the competitors. 

f)         The great majority of the grade in quantitative tasks must be given to the mean value as  reported by the competitors while some marks may also be given to the corresponding          equations, calculations, or explanations directly related to the work. Points must not be       awarded for reproducibility.

§ 14 

Correcting and Marking

(1)      A maximum of 60 points is allocated to the theoretical tasks and 40 points to the practical tasks, making a total of 100 points. 

(2)      The competition tasks are corrected independently by the authors and by the mentors. Consequential marking should be used so that students are not punished twice for the same error. Both corrections are then compared; however, the authors present their evaluation first. After a discussion the final score for each participant is reached and agreed by both sides. The organizer retains the original marked manuscripts. 

(3)      The International Jury discusses the results and decides on the final scores. 

(4)      In order to eliminate any doubts about possible mistakes in the processing of the results the organizer must provide the mentors with a list of their students’ total results before the closing award ceremony. 

§ 15 

Results and Prizes

(1)      The best 10% to 12% of all competitors receive gold, the next 20% to 22% silver, and       the following 30% to 32% bronze medals. 

(2)      An honorable mention is received by non-medalists who are in the best 70 to 71% of all competitors. 

(3)      The exact number of recipients for each award is determined automatically to yield the largest possible difference in the marks of students receiving different honors. In the case of identical differences, the one resulting in more medals will be selected. 

(4)      Each medalist must receive the medal and a corresponding certificate from the organizer. 

(5)      In addition to the medals other prizes may be awarded. 

(6)      Each competitor receives a certificate of participation. 

(7)      In the awarding ceremony, the non-medalists are called alphabetically. 

(8)      Team classification is not made. 

(9)      The organizer must provide a complete list of results as a part of the final report. 

§ 16 

Final Regulations

(1)      Those who take part in the competition acknowledge these regulations through their participation. 

(2)      This version of regulations has been approved by the International Jury in Prague (Czech Republic) in July 2018, and is issued to replace the former regulations approved in Bangkok (Thailand) in July 2017. 

(3)      The regulations are valid from the 1st of September, 2018. Changes to the regulations can be made only by the International Jury and require a qualified majority (two third of the votes with regard to total number of participating countries). 8 

APPENDIX A                                                                                     A 1:  SAFETY RULES FOR STUDENTS IN THE LABORATORY 

           All students of chemistry must recognize that hazardous materials cannot be completely avoided. Chemists must learn to handle all materials in an appropriate fashion. While it is not expected that all students participating in the International Chemistry Olympiad know the hazards of every chemical, the organizers of the competition will assume that all participating students know the basic safety procedures. For example, the organizers will assume that students know that eating, drinking or smoking in the laboratory or tasting a chemical is strictly forbidden. 

    In addition to the common-sense safety considerations to which students should have been previously exposed, some specific rules, listed below, must also be followed during the Olympiad. If any question arises concerning safety procedures during the practical exam, the student should not hesitate to ask the nearest supervisor for direction. 

Rules regarding personal protection 

1. Eye protection must be worn in the laboratories at all times. If the student wears contact         lenses, full protection goggles must also be worn. Eye protection will be provided by the  host country. 

2. A laboratory coat is required. Each student will supply this item for himself/herself. 

3. Long pants and closed-toed shoes are recommended for individual safety. Long hair and          loose clothing should be confined. 

4. Pipetting by mouth is strictly forbidden. Each student must be provided with a pipette bulb or     pipette filler. 

Rules for Handling Materials 

1. Specific instructions for handling hazardous materials will be included by the host country in          the procedures of the practical exam. All potentially dangerous materials will be labeled          using the GHS symbols. Each student is responsible for recognizing these symbols and  knowing their meaning (see Appendix B). 

2. Do not indiscriminately dispose chemicals in the sink. Follow all disposal rules provided by           the host country. 

A 2:  SAFETY RULES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE HOST         COUNTRY OF THE INTERNATIONAL CHEMISTRY OLYMPIAD 

           Certainly it can be assumed that all students participating in the IChO have at least modest experience with safety laboratory procedures. However, it is the responsibility of the International Jury and the organizing country to be sure that the welfare of the students is carefully considered. Reference to the Safety Rules for Students in the Laboratory will show that the students carry some of the burden for their own safety. Other safety matters will vary from year to year, depending on practical tasks. The organizers of these tasks for the host country are therefore assigned responsibility in the areas listed below. The organizers are advised to carefully test the practical tasks 9 in advance to ensure the safety of the experiments. This can best be accomplished by having students of ability similar to that of IChO participants carry out the testing. 

Rules for the Host Country (see also A 1): 

1.  Emergency first-aid treatment should be available during the practical examination. 

2.  Students must be informed about the proper methods of handling hazardous materials. 

a) Specific techniques for handling each hazardous substance should be included in the                written instructions of the practical examination. 

b) All bottles (containers) containing hazardous substances must be appropriately labeled           using internationally recognized symbols (see Appendix B). 

3. Chemical disposal instructions should be provided to the students within the written      instructions of the practical examination. Waste collection containers should be used for the   chemicals considered hazardous to the environment. 

4. The practical tasks should be designed for appropriate (in other words, minimum) quantities     of materials. 

5. The laboratory facilities should be chosen with the following in mind: 

a) Each student should not only have adequate space in which to work, but should be in safe      distance from other students. 

b) There should be adequate ventilation in the rooms and a sufficient number of hoods when     needed. 

c) There should be more than one emergency exit for each room. 

d) Fire extinguishers should be nearby. 

e) Electrical equipment should be situated in an appropriate spot and be of a safe nature. 

f) There should be appropriate equipment available for clean-up of spills. 

6. It is recommended that one supervisor be available for every four students in the laboratory     to adequately ensure safe conditions. 

7. The organizers should follow international guidelines for the use of toxic, hazardous or     carcinogenic substances in the IChO. 10 

APPENDIX B 

HAZARD WARNING SYMBOLS AND HAZARD DESIGNATIONS 

    Chemicals used in the IChO laboratory experiments need to be labeled according to the Globally Harmonized System of Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) standard developed by the United Nations. The organizing country should use the locally legislated GHS system (pictograms, hazard statements, etc.) if it exists. If such rules do not exist, the original GHS directives (http://www.unece.org/trans/danger/publi/ghs/ghs_welcome_e.html) and the GHS compliant documentation by the chemical providers should be used. 11 

Appendix C 

Concepts and skills expected to be known by all participants: 

(predominantly equivalent to former number 1 and 2 topics) 

Concepts 

Awareness of experimental errors, use of significant figures; 

Maths skills commonly encountered at secondary school level, including solving quadratic equations, use of logarithms and exponentials, solving simultaneous equations with 2 unknowns, the meaning of sine and cosine, elementary geometry such as Pythagoras’ theorem, plotting graphs 

(more advanced maths skills such as differentiation and integration, if required must be included as one of the advanced topics) 

Nucleons, isotopes, radioactive decay and nuclear reactions (alpha, beta, gamma); 

Quantum numbers (n,l,m) and orbitals (s,p,d) in hydrogen-like atoms; 

Hund’s rule, Pauli exclusion principle; 

Electronic configuration of main group and the first row transition metal atoms and their ions; 

Periodic table and trends (electronegativity, electron affinity, ionization energy, atomic and ionic size, melting points, metallic character, reactivity); 

Bond types (covalent, ionic, metallic), intermolecular forces and relation to properties; 

Molecular structures and simple VSEPR theory (up to 4 electron pairs); 

Balancing equations, empirical formulae, mole concept and Avogadro constant, stoichiometric calculations, density, calculations with different concentration units; 

Chemical equilibrium, Le Chatelier’s principle, equilibrium constants in terms of concentrations, pressures and mole fractions; 

Arrhenius and Bronsted acid-base theory, pH, self ionization of water, equilibrium constants of acid-base reactions, pH of weak acid solutions, pH of very dilute solutions and simple buffer solutions, hydrolysis of salts; 

Solubility constants and solubility; 

Complexation reactions, definition of coordination number, complex formation constants; 

Basics of electrochemistry: Electromotive force, Nernst equation; Electrolysis, Faraday’s laws; 

Rate of chemical reactions, elementary reactions, factors affecting the reaction rate, rate law for homogeneous and heterogeneous reactions, rate constant, reaction order, reaction energy profile, activation energy, catalysis, influence of a catalyst on thermodynamic and kinetic characteristics of a reaction; 

Energy, heat and work, enthalpy and energy, heat capacity, Hess’ law, standard formation enthalpies, solution, solvation and bond enthalpies; Definition and concept of entropy and Gibbs’ energy, second law of thermodynamics, direction of spontaneous change; 

Ideal gas law, partial pressures; 

Principles of direct and indirect titration (back titration); 

Acidi- and alkalimetry, acidimetric titration curves, choice and color of indicators for acidimetry; 

Redox titrations (permanganometric and iodometric); 

Simple complexometric and precipitation titrations; 

Basic principles of inorganic qualitative analysis for ions specified in factual knowledge, flame tests; 

Lambert-Beer law; 

Organic structure-reactivity relations (polarity, electrophilicity, nucleophilicity, inductive effects, relative stability) 

Structure-property relations (boiling point, acidity, basicity); 

Simple organic nomenclature; 

Hybridization and geometry at carbon centers; 

Sigma and pi bonds, delocalization, aromaticity, mesomeric structures; 

Isomerism (constitutional, configuration, conformation, tautomerism) 

Stereochemistry (E-Z, cis-trans isomers, chirality, optical activity, Cahn-Ingold-Prelog system, Fisher projections); 

Hydrophilic and hydrophobic groups, micelle formation; 

Polymers and monomers, chain polymerizations, polyaddition and polycondensation; 

Laboratory skills 

Heating in the laboratory, heating under reflux; 

Mass and volume measurement (with electronic balance, measuring cylinder, pipette and burette, volumetric flask); 

Preparation and dilution of solutions and standard solutions; 

Operation of a magnetic stirrer; 

Carrying out of test tube reactions; 

Qualitative testing for organic functional groups (using a given procedure); 

Volumetric determination, titrations, use of a pipette bulb; 

Measurement of pH (by pH paper or calibrated pH meter); 

Examples of concepts and skills allowed in the exam only if included and demonstrated in the preparatory problems 

6 theoretical and 2 practical topics from these or other topics of similar breadth are allowed in a preparatory problem set. It is intended that a topic can be introduced and discussed in a lecture of 2-3 hours before a prepared audience. 

• VSEPR theory in detail (with more than 4 ligands); 

• Inorganic stereochemistry, isomerism in complexes; 

• Solid state structures (metals, NaCl, CsCl) and Bragg’s law;

·  Relation of equilibrium constants, electromotive force and standard Gibbs energy; 

• Integrated rate law for first order reactions, half-life, Arrhenius equation, determination of activation energy; 

• Analysis of complex reactions using steady-state and quasi-equilibrium approximations, mechanisms of catalytic reactions, determination of reaction order and activation energy for complex reactions; 

• Collision theory 

• Simple phase diagrams and the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, triple and critical points; 

• Stereoselective transformations (diastereoselective, enantioselective), optical purity 

• Conformational analysis, use of Newman projections, anomeric effect 

• Aromatic nucleophilic substitution, electrophilic substitution on polycyclic aromatic compounds and heterocycles 

• Supramolecular chemistry 

• Advanced polymers, rubbers, copolymers, thermosetting polymers. Polymerization types, stages and kinetics of polymerization; 

• Amino acid side groups, reactions and separation of amino acids, protein sequencing; 

• Secondary, tertiary and quaternary structures of proteins, non-covalent interactions, stability and denaturation, protein purification by precipitation, chromatography and electrophoresis; 

• Enzymes and classification according to reaction types, active sites, coenzymes and cofactors, mechanism of catalysis; 

• Monosaccharides, equilibrium between linear and cyclic forms, pyranoses and furanoses, Haworth projection and conformational formulae; 

• Chemistry of carbohydrates, oligo- and polysaccharides, glycosides, determination of structure; 

• Bases, nucleotides and nucleosides with formulae, Functional nucleotides, DNA and RNA, hydrogen bonding between bases, replication, transcription and translation, DNA based applications; 

• Complex solubility calculations (with hydrolyzing anions, complex formation); 

• Simple Schrödinger equations and spectroscopic calculations; 

• Simple MO theory; 

• Basics of mass spectrometry (molecular ions, isotope distributions); 

• Interpretation of simple NMR spectra (chemical shift, multiplicity, integrals); 

• Synthesis techniques: filtrations, drying of precipitates, thin layer chromatography. 

• Synthesis in microscale equipment; 

• Advanced inorganic qualitative analysis; 

• Gravimetric analysis; 

• Use of a spectrophotometer; 

• Theory and practice of extraction with immiscible solvents; 

• Column chromatography;

Appendix D 

Outline of the factual knowledge supposed to be known by the competitors: 

Reactions of s-block elements with water, oxygen and halogens, their color in flame tests; 

Stoichiometry, reactions and properties of binary non-metal hydrides; 

Common reactions of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur oxides (CO, CO2, NO, NO2, N2O4, SO2, SO3); 

Common oxidation states of p-block elements, stoichiometry of common halides and oxoacids (HNO2, HNO3, H2CO3, H3PO4, H3PO3, H2SO3, H2SO4, HOCl, HClO3, HClO4); 

Reaction of halogens with water; 

Common oxidation states of first row transition metals (Cr(III), Cr(VI), Mn(II), Mn(IV), Mn(VII), Fe(II), Fe(III), Co(II), Ni(II), Cu(I), Cu(II), Ag(I), Zn(II), Hg(I), and Hg(II) )and the color of these ions; 

Dissolution of these metals and Al, amphoteric hydroxides (Al(OH)3, Cr(OH)3, Zn(OH)2); 

Permanganate, chromate, dichromate ions and their redox reactions; 

Iodometry (reaction of thiosulfate and iodine); 

Identification of Ag+, Ba2+, Fe3+, Cu2+, Cl–, CO32–, SO42– ; 

Organic: 

Common electrophiles and nucleophiles 

Electrophilic addition: addition to double and triple bonds, regioselectivity (Markovnikoff’s rule), stereochemistry 

Electrophilic substitution: substitution on aromatic rings, influence of substituents on the reactivity and regioselectivity, electrophilic species; 

Elimination: E1 and E2 reactions at sp3 carbon centers, stereochemistry, acid-base catalysis, common leaving groups; 

Nucleophilic substitution: SN1 and SN2 reactions at sp3 carbon centers, stereochemistry; 

Nucleophilic addition: addition to carbon-carbon and carbon-hetero atom double and triple bonds, addition-elimination reactions, acid-base catalysis; 

Radical substitution: reaction of halogens and alkanes; 

Oxidations and reductions: switching between the different oxidation levels of common functional groups (alkyne – alkene – alkane – alkyl halide, alcohol – aldehyde, ketone – carboxylic acid derivatives, nitriles – carbonates) 

Cyclohexane conformations; 

Grignard reaction, Fehling and Tollens reaction; 

Simple polymers and their preparation (polystyrene, polyethylene, polyamides, polyesters); 

Amino acids and their classification in groups, isoelectric point, peptide bond, peptides and proteins; 

Carbohydrates: open chain and cyclic form of glucose and fructose; 

Lipids: general formulae of triacyl glycerides, saturated and unsaturated fatty acids;



Regulations

of the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO)

G e n e r a l   S t a t e m e n t 

           § 1

Aims of the competition

The International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) is a chemistry competition for students at secondary school level with the aim of promoting international contacts in chemistry. It is intended to stimulate the activities of students interested in chemistry by a way of independent and creative solving of chemical problems. The IChO competitions help to enhance friendly relations among young people from different countries; they encourage cooperation and international understanding.

O r g a n i z a t i o n   o f   I C h O

§ 2

Organization and invitation

(1)      The IChO is organized every year as a rule at the beginning of July in one of the participating countries by the Education Ministry or another appropriate institution of the organizing country (hereafter referred to as the organizer).

(2)  The organizer is obliged to invite all countries partici­pating in the previous IChO competition. The official invitation to participate in the forthcoming IChO should be sent to countries by the November proceeding the competition. The invited countries must confirm their participation in the IChO according to requirements of the organizer.

(3)   Moreover, other countries may apply for the participation in IChO but the organizer has the right to invite the countries only on agreement with the organizers of two forth­coming IChOs. Incoming countries must send observers to two consecutive Olympiads before its pupils can participate in IChO (see also § 3, section 5). 

§ 3

Delegations

(1)      Each participating country's delegation  may consist of four competitors and two accompanying persons (also known as mentors). Countries may include one scientific observer in their delegation.

(2)      The competitors must not be university students.  They can only be students of secondary schools which are not specialized in chemistry and, if they are already graduated befoire May 1st in the year of the competition, the organizer must be informed about the month and year of their graduation. Moreover, they must be under the age of 20 at the 1st of July in the year of the competition. 

           The competitors must be pass­port holders of the country they represent or they had to take part in the secondary school  educational system of this country for more than one academic year.

           All members of a delegation must provide themselves with medical insurance for the journey to/from the organizing country and the stay in the country. 

           

(3)      The mentors act as members of the International Jury (see § 6) and one of them  is designated as the head of delegation.

(4)      The mentors:

 a)       must guarantee the fulfilment of those conditions given in section 2 of this
 paragraph,

 b)       must be capable of translating the text of competition tasks from English into the mother tongue of their students and be able to judge the set of tasks and correct the work of the students.

 c)       have the right to enter a protest which should be addressed to the Chair of the
 International Jury and, when necessary, ask  for solving  the  problem  at the next  meeting  of  the International Jury.

(5)      Incoming countries that are invited by the organizer, and intend to take part in future IChOs, may send one scientific observer.

§ 4

Obligations of the Organizer

(1)      The organizer provides: 

a)        the itinerary of the IChO, 

b)        transportation  from/to  an  airport/station  decided   by   the  host  country  on the  day  of arrival and departure, 

c)        the organization of the competition following the regulation,

d)        accident insurance for all participants in connection with the organized programme,  

e)        the opportunity for  the  mentors to inspect the working room and   practical apparatus to be used for the practical tasks before  the competition takes place,  

f)         arrangement for the observance of the safety regulations, 

g)        the medals, certificates and prizes, which are presented at the official closing ceremony,

h)        a printed report on the competition to be distributed not later than six  months after the competition.

§ 5

Financing

(1)      The participating country covers the return travel costs of the students and the accompanying persons to the designed airport/station  or to the place where the competition is held. 

(2)      The participating country must pay for the participation fee the amount of which must be approved by the International Jury. 

(3)      All other costs in connection with the organized programme, including the costs of accommodation for all competitors and members of the International Jury, are covered by the organizer.

(4)      The organizer of the next Olympiad may send two observers to the current IChO with their expenses covered by the host as mentioned in the preceding section 3.

I n s t i t u t i o n s   o f   I C h O

§ 6

International Jury

(1)      The International Jury consists of its chair and members. The chair of the International Jury is nominated by the organizer. The members of the International Jury are the two mentors from the individual delegations and the chair of the Steering Committee (see § 8).

(2)      The  chair  of  the  International Jury or his/her delegate calls  and  chairs  all  the  meetings of the International Jury concerning the current  competition. 

(3)      Resolutions of common International Jury sessions or its split sessions are passed by the International Jury when they are agreed by a simple majority of votes in the presence of at least 75% of the delegations. Each participating country has one vote.  Changes in the regulations can only be done at the common sessions of the International Jury and require a qualified majority of two thirds of the votes. The chair has a casting vote in the event of a tie. The decisions of the International Jury are binding for both organizer and participants.

(4)      The working language of the International Jury is English.

§ 7

Responsibilities of the International Jury

(1)      The International Jury: 

 a)       is  in  charge   of   the  actual  competition  and  its  supervision  according  to  the regulations,  

 b)       discusses   in   advance  the  competition  tasks  presented  by  the  organizer, their solutions and the marking  guidelines, gives  com­ments  and decides in case  of changes,  

 c)       supervises    the    marking   of   the   examination  papers  and  guarantees  that all participants are judged by equal criteria,

 d)       determines the winners and decides on prizes and documents for the competitors, 

 e)       monitors the competition and suggests changes to the regulations, organization and contents for future IChOs,

 f)        takes decisions on excluding of a participant or a whole team from the competition
 (see also § 11, section 7),  

 g)       elects members of the Steering Committee of the IChO, 

 h)       may   form  working  groups  to  solve  specific  chemistry  related  problems of the IChO.

(2)      The members of the International Jury:

 a)       are obliged to maintain a professional discretion about any relevant information   they  receive  during the IChO and must not assist any participants, 

 b)       keep the marking and results secret until proclaimed by the International Jury.

(3)      The   working    groups   of    the  International Jury should   draw   its   membership  from   IChO participating    countries    and    those    interested   in   IChO   competitions.  The working   groups   meet   for   working   sessions  and  submit   the  results  of  the deliberations to the Steering Committee.   

§ 8

Steering Committee

(1)      The long term work involved in organizing the International Chemistry Olympiads is coordinated by the Steering Committee.  

(2)      Members of the Committee are elected by the International Jury. They are representatives from various geographical areas (3 from Europe, 1 from Americas, 1 from Pacific Rim), to serve a two year term. Members are elected for no more than two consecutive terms.  Moreover, 1 ‑ 3 members may be selected by the Steering Com­mittee for their particular expertise for periods of one year.

(3)      There are three ex‑officio members of the Steering Committee:

 a)       chair of the current IChO,

 b)       chair of the immediate past IChO,

 c)       chair of the immediate future IChO.

(4)      The  Steering Committee elects  its  own  Chair.  The Chair:

a)        calls and chairs the meetings of the Steering Committee. 

b)        calls  and chairs the business meetings of the International Jury dealing with general problems of future International Chemistry Olympiads. 

c)        has  the  right  to call a special meeting  of  the International Jury when necessary for some exceptional reasons.

(5)      The Steering Committee:

 a)       provides organizational oversight for the International Chemistry Olympiad,

 b)       proposes items for consideration at the International Jury sessions.

(6)      The  Steering Committee  has  no  right  to make any decisions about the International Chemistry Olympiad that would interfere with the responsibilities of the International Jury (see § 7 and 8).

§ 9

International Information Center

           There is an International Information Center of the International Chemistry Olympiads  gathering and providing (when necessary) all the documentation of the IChOs from the very beginning of the Olympiad to the present. The seat of the Office is in Bratislava, Slovakia.

C o m p e t i t i o n

§ 10

Preparation for the IChO competition

(1)      By the November of the proceeding competition the organizer distributes to all participating countries a set of preparatory tasks written in English. The preparatory tasks must be devised so that students can get a good idea of the type and difficulty of the competition tasks, including safety aspects (see §12 and Appendix “B”). According to Appendix “C” topics of group 3 must be covered in the preparatory problems. SI units must be used throughout the preparatory tasks.

(2)      The total number of theoretical and experimental tasks in the set of preparatory problems cannot be lower than 25 and 5, respectively.

(3)      The organizer cannot give theoretical problems of level 3  (Appendix C) from more than 3 fields and a minimum of 6 tasks should be presented in the set of preparatory problems from each field. Subjects assigned to level 3 can be classified as level 2 if sufficient background is included in the formulation of the problem (e. g. formulas, graphs, structures, equations). 

(4)      The organizer cannot set an experimental competition task with an experimental technique of level 3 (Appendix D) without mentioning it at least in one of experimental preparatory tasks.

(5)      Training or any other special instruction, that is carried out for a selected group of 50 or fewer students, containing the IChO team, must be no longer than two weeks.

§ 11

Organization of the IChO Competition

(1)      The competition consists of two parts:

 a)       part one, the practical (experimental) competition,

 b)       part two, the theoretical competition.

(2)      A working time of four to five hours is allotted for each part. There is at least one day of rest between the two parts.

(3)      Competitors receive all the relevant information in the language of their choice and are allowed to write the solutions in that language.

(4)      There must be no contact between mentors and competitors once the mentors received the competition tasks for consideration. No information about the competition tasks must be passed to the competitors directly or indirectly prior and during the competition.  

(5)      Only non‑programmable pocket calculators may be used for the solving of the tasks.

(6)      The safety regulations announced by the organizer are binding for all participants. 

(7)      Breaking of any rules given in the preceding paragraphs (§ 3. section 2,  § 10, section 4,   § 11, sections 4, 5, and 6) has as its consequence excluding from the whole or a part of the competition.

§ 12

Safety

 (1)     During the experimental part, the competitors must wear laboratory coats and eye protection. The competitors are expected to bring their own laboratory coats. Other means of protection for laboratory work are provided by the organizer.

(2)      When handling with liquids, each student must be provided with a pipette ball or filler. Pipetting by mouth is strictly forbidden.

(3)      The use of very toxic substances (designation T+) is strictly forbidden. The use of toxic substances (designation T) is not recommended, but may be allowed if special precautions are taken. Substances belonging to the categories R 45, R 46, R 47 must not be used under any circumstances (see Appendix B for definitions of these categories).

(4)      The organizer provides a list of chemicals from which the chemicals used in practical preparatory and competition tasks are drawn. The list of chemicals must include information of the maximum amounts of materials needed or in the case of solutions their maximum concentrations. Any hazardous materials on the list must be accompanied by detailed instructions for safe handling. The list must be provided together with the preparatory tasks (see § 10).

           Each participating country has three months to file a substantiated dissent concerning the use of a special chemical. Silence indicates acceptance. The organizer should try to revise the list in order to satisfy any objections. The final revision of the list will be distributed to the delegation leaders at the start of the Olympiad.

(5)      Detailed recommendations involving students´ safety and the handling and disposal of chemicals can be found in Appendices A 1, A 2, and B.                     

a)        Appendix  A 1:     Safety    Rules    for    Students  in the laboratory.

b)        Appendix  A 2:     Safety Rules and Recommendations for the Host Country of the
                                       IChO. 

c)        Appendix B contains:

           B 1:    Hazard  Warning Symbols and Hazard Designations and their explanation.

           B 2:    R‑Ratings  and  S‑Provisions:  Nature of special risks (R) and safety advice            
                     (S).

           

§ 13

Competition Tasks

(1)      The organizer is responsible for the preparation of competition tasks by competent experts/authors, who constitute the Scientific Board of the IChO. They propose the methods of solution and the marking scheme.

(2)      The tasks, their solutions and the marking schemes are submitted to the International Jury for consideration and approval. The authors of the tasks should be present during the discussion.

(3)      The Chair of the International Jury may put the Chair of the Scientific Board in charge of the proceedings when the tasks are considered.

(4)      The total length of the theoretical or experimental tasks must not exceed 10,000 characters. SI units must be used throughout the competition tasks.

(5)      In the experimental part of the competition the following conditions must be fulfilled: 

a)        The experimental part must contain at least two independent tasks.

b)        No part of the grade can subjectively be evaluated by the staff. 

c)        Competitors must receive the same substances when solving the tasks from qualitative analytical chemistry.     

d)        When solving tasks from quantitative analytical chemistry competitors must receive
           the same substances but with different concentrations.

e)        In evaluating the quantitative tasks the master values must not be based on
           average results of the competitors.

f)         The great majority of the grade in quantitative tasks must be given to the mean value as reported by the competitors while some marks may also be given to the corresponding equations, calôculations, or explanations directly related to the work. Points must not be awarded for reproducibility.   

§ 14

Correcting and Marking

(1)      A maximum of 60 points is allocated to the theoretical tasks and 40 points to the practical tasks,  making a total of 100 points. 

(2)      The competition tasks are corrected independently by the authors and by the mentors. Consequential marking should be used so that students are not punished twice for the same error. Both corrections are then compared, however, the authors present their evaluation first. After a discussion the final score for each participant is reached and agreed by both sides. The organizer retains the original marked manuscripts.

(3)      The International Jury discusses the results and decides on the final scores.

(4)      In order to eliminate any doubts about possible mistakes in the processing of the results the organizer must provide the mentors with a list of their students’ total results  before the closing awards’ ceremony.  

§ 15

Results and Prizes

(1)      Official results of the competition and the number of medals awarded are decided by the International Jury.

(2)      The number of gold medals awarded is in the range of 8% to 12%, silver 18% to 22%, and bronze medals 28% to 32% of the total number of competitors. The exact number of medals is decided on the basis of an anonymous review of the results. 

(3)      Every medalist must receive the medal and a corresponding certificate from the organizer.

(4)      In addition to the medals other prizes may be awarded.

(5)      An honourable mention is awarded to competitots who do not receive a medal, but gain full marks for at least one problem.  

(6)      Each competitor receives a certificate of participation.

(7)      In the awarding ceremony, the non medalists are called in alphabetical order.

(8)      No team classification takes place.

(9)      The organizer must provide a complete list of results as a part of the final report.

§ 16

Final Regulations

(1)      Those who take part in the competition acknowledge these regulations through their very participation.

(2)      This version of regulations has been approved by the International Jury in Bangkok (Thailand) in July 1999 and is issued to replace the former one approved in Oslo (Norway) in 1994.   

(3)      The regulations are valid from September 1st, 1999. Changes in them can only be made by the International Jury and require a qualified majority (two third of the votes with regard to total number of participating countries). 

Contact us

Dr. Anton Sirota|Director of the IChO IIC
IUVENTA – Slovak Youth Institute
Karloveská 64, 811 04 Bratislava, Slovakia
E-mail: anton.sirota@stuba.sk|Phone: +421 907 473 367

Dr. Martin Putala|Department of Organic Chemistry
Faculty of Natural Sciences
Comenius University, Bratislava, Ilkovičova 6, Slovakia
E-mail: putala@fns.uniba.sk|Phone: +421 918 669 092