Brookfield girl wins national chemistry challenge

A Brookfield sixth-grader has won a national chemistry challenge, outperforming nearly 25,000 other competitors.

Audrey Gallier, who is home-schooled, won the 2014 "You Be the Chemist" challenge June 23 in Philadelphia, according to a Chemical Education Foundation news release. The foundation pits fifth- to eighth-graders against one another each year in the quiz bowl-style academic competition.

Gallier won the competition by correctly answering a question about the relationship of pH values and hydroxide concentrations, Chemical Education Foundation spokeswoman Kate Larson said in an email.

Students were also quizzed on subjects such as the chemical bonds within atoms, the characteristics of protein and the behavior of chemical elements under changing heat and energy conditions, according to sample questions from last year's competition.

The 12-year-old won local and state competitions before advancing to the national competition. She received study materials approximately a month before each competition, and estimates she studied about a half-hour per day for each one.

"To win is fun and I didn't expect it," she said in a telephone interview. "So it's sort of neat."

She said she was slightly nervous before the state competition, but that the feeling went away after the first question. She was not nervous before the national competition, she said.

She said she enjoys math and science, but doesn't have a favorite subject.

Gallier beat three eighth-graders in the competition's final round: Amar Moturu of Texas; Michael Allen of Ohio; and Varun Mosur of Virginia, according to the release. Gallier received an $8,000 scholarship for first place, while the others received scholarships of smaller amounts, Larson said.

Audrey said she is not yet sure what career she intends to pursue. She said she is considering something science- or animal-related.

All four got graphing calculators, engraved beakers, chemistry kits and other prizes.

The competition was created in 2004 to spark student interest in the sciences and to prepare them for future scientific careers, the release states.

"Each of these students has worked incredibly hard to make it to this level of the competition, and their enthusiasm for studying chemistry and its real-world applications is inspiring," Chemical Education Foundation Executive Director John Rice said in the release.

Audrey does not get to compete again in the national competition after winning once, she said. She is considering participating in a geography bee or joining a math team.

wjventeicher@tribune.com

Twitter @wesventeicher