A chemist in the making

Thursday, April 6, 2017
(Photo Contributed) MMCRU eighth grader Tyler Frederes, at left, stands with his trophy and certificate after placing second at the You Be the Chemist Challenge March 6. Next up for Frederes is a trip to Ames for the state contest April 29.

REMSEN -- The study of chemistry can be difficult, but MMCRU eighth grader Tyler Frederes is up for the challenge.

"In fourth, fifth and sixth grade, all my science teachers were really cool and we did all these experiments. Almost every week we would do a new one," Frederes explained.

Frederes was one of seven MMCRU students who competed at a You Be the Chemist Challenge competition March 6. Frederes placed second, good enough to get him to the state contest April 29 at Iowa State University in Ames.

"I hadn't even learned that stuff yet," Frederes said. "Before the competition, they gave us online resources that had all the information we needed to use and study for the questions. We studied that for a few weeks before the competition."

Frederes added even with preparation, the questions were by no means easy.

"Some of the most difficult ones were about the elements, about valence electrons and electron and proton counts, stuff like that," Frederes said. "My favorite questions were about if one element reacted with another, what would change and what would be added."

Frederes said it was a suspenseful affair before he found out he was moving on.

"There were seven people left and they were only taking six people to state," Frederes said. "It was nerve wracking but I was overjoyed when they called my name."

Frederes doesn't plan to sit on his laurels, however, and qualifying for nationals in Washington D.C. is next up on the agenda.

"I'm really happy to be going and I want to meet the other kids that are there," he said. "I want to see if I can move on and test myself. The study material for state was just released last week, and I'm going to study it every night."

Though he knows studying and bookwork are a large part of chemistry, Frederes much prefers wearing lab goggles.

"I really like experimenting with chemicals and stuff, it's not dangerous," Frederes said. "I like to see things change and react to each other. I just love to experiment."

Frederes added he could easily see chemistry as part of his future.

"I could see myself doing this when I'm older," Frederes said. "It's really fun. You get to go out and do other stuff with it while meeting other people."

He also had some advice for younger students who aren't sure if chemistry is up their alley.

"If you don't like it in first grade, you can try it in second grade and it might be more fun," Frederes concluded. "Sometimes it is looking at textbooks, but after you get through the hard stuff, you get rewarded with experiments. You have to do work to have fun."