Behold, Titans of 2018 PZ-Cussons Chemistry Challenge

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Teens Connect

By  Nkechi Ibeneme, (08142358958) teensconnectmag@gmail.com


The 2018 edition of the biggest pure science competition in Nigeria – the PZ-Cussons Chemistry Challenge – may have come and gone but its echo lingers on. The finals of the fifth edition of the Chemistry Competition for senior secondary school students in Lagos State, which is sponsored by PZ-Cussons and supported by family brands, Premier Soap and Nunu Milk, held last Saturday.

The top six students that locked horns at the finals emerged through rigorous elimination stages. At the first stage which was a written exercise, 3,000 students competed and 97 were shortlisted to compete in the second stage. Afterwards, 24 progressed to the third stage which was a practical exam in one of the best laboratories in Lagos State and from there, six finalists emerged.

The top six then slugged it out in a quiz competition in front of a live audience on June 2 for the ultimate prize. The six finalists were Tadese Fatai  of  Abibat Mogaji Millenium Senior Secondary School; Adegoke Oluwapelumi of Newhall International School; Ikulayo Israel Tosin  of Brainfield College; Ihejeamatu Anthony  of Festac Senior Grammar School; Onuoha Munachimso of Whitesands Academy; and Iwuala Chibuzor Augustine of Abibat Mogaji Millenium Senior Secondary School.

In a related development, teachers of Chemistry in various secondary schools in Lagos were put to the test. Out of the over 500 teachers that competed in the online test, six were shortlisted to slug it out at a quiz competition to determine the ultimate winner.
The PZ Cussons Chemistry Challenge was instituted by the firm to stimulate and inspire the learning of Chemistry among secondary school students. Traditionally, in every competition, there will always be a winner, but at this year’s edition of the contest, everybody was a winner as the company gave out consolation prizes to all finalists.
However, some people stood out among the lot.

Behold the Champion, Tadese Fatai! 

In spite of the pangs of hunger and weariness from the Ramadan fast, Tadese Fatai remained alert and refused to bow to the pressure within. The 15-year-old remained gallant and competitive throughout the period of the intellectual bout and eventually clinched the ultimate prize as the overall winner of the 2018 PZ-Cussons Chemistry Challenge. After he was announced the champion, Fatai had to endure additional hours of media interviews. His gaunt face lit with smile and pride as he fielded questions from journalists. For his position, Fatai took home a gold medal and a cash award of N1 million. His teacher, Mr. Odusanya Tolulope Joseph, whose other student came third, took home N250,000 while his school, Abibat Mogaji Millenium Senior Secondary School, Agege, got a desktop computer and laboratory equipment.
How do you feel winning today’s contest?
I feel very great and grateful to God.
From the outset, did you imagine you would win?
No, I did not imagine I would win. I only worked hard and prayed that God should help me.
What was the warm-up like?
I worked really hard with my teacher coaching me. I even studied overnight and prayed really hard for God to help me. My parents also prayed fervently to God on my behalf.
Who is your mentor in Chemistry?
My mentor is my Chemistry teacher – Mr. Odusanya Tolulope Joseph.
What course do you intend to study?
I want to study Medicine and Surgery.
Do you plan to apply for scholarship to study outside the country?
Yes. I have such plans.
Which country would you love to go for your studies?
I would love to study in Russia because it is a very peaceful country and it is a good place to study the course that I intend to study.
Why do you think many students are afraid of Chemistry?
I think it is largely due to perception. Many students believe Chemistry is difficult but it is not. If you take Chemistry as a friend it will become easy for you. Again, if the students see the teacher as being wicked, they automatically lose interest in the subject.
What is your best subject?
My best subject is Mathematics.
Why haven’t you been to the Cowbellpedia Mathematics contest?
I did enter the competition – unfortunately, I did not qualify.
Who is your role model?
My parents are my role models.
What do you say to PZ the sponsors of the Chemistry contest?
I say a very big thank you to PZ for this opportunity to students in Lagos State. I pray they continue to do this and that God should bless.
Which of the stages was the toughest for you?
My toughest stage was the practical. I couldn’t believe I could scale through that stage until word got to me that I had qualified.
What are you going to do with your prize money?
Sincerely, I don’t have any plans for the money. I will have to discuss that with my parents.
How do you relax?
I watch discovery science on TV. I neither dance nor play games.
What do you say to teenagers who spend their time on the social media and watching TV?
They should cut that down and create more time for reading and learning so that they can become great in life. You waste valuable time when you stay in front of the TV all day.

Coming a close second to Fatai is 13-year-old Adegoke Oluwapelumi Moyinoluwa of New Hall International Secondary School Lekki. For his position, Moyinoluwa took home a silver medal and cash reward of N750, 000. His teacher got N150,000 while his school got a desktop computer and some laboratory equipment

How do you feel being the first runner-up?
I thank God, though I had expected to win.

What gave you such confidence?
God and hard work. I prayed to God to help me win and I really worked hard.

Which was your most difficult stage in the contest?
My most difficult stage in the contest was the first stage. After that, I was cool.

Which is your best subject?
My best subject is Further Maths.

Why then have you not participated in the Cowbellpedia Mathematics contest?
I participated in the Cowbellpedia Mathematics contest. But, I didn’t go far.

What course do you want to study?
Computer Engineering.

Which is your country of choice for studies?
I would love to study in the United States of America.

What will you do with your prize money?
I will keep it in a bank where I can earn substantial interest on it.

What are your hobbies?
My hobbies are solving mathematical problems and programming.

What was the warm-up to the contest like?
It was quite taxing. I underwent very taxing training sessions on weekdays and took home loads of past questions to practise with during the weekends. I even had to stay awake on several nights to study. It was indeed tedious.

Fifteen-year-old Iwuala Chibuzor also of Abibat Mogaji Memorial Secondary School, Agege, came from sixth after the third stage to clinch the third position at the finals. He also made a mark when he challenged the quiz master over an answer that was erroneously scored against him and it turned out he was correct. For his position, Chibuzor took home a bronze medal and cash reward of N500,000. His teacher, Mr. Odusanya Tolulope Joseph, went home with N100,000 while his school received desktop computer and laboratory equipment

How do you feel about your win?
I am the happiest person for being among the top three today.

You challenged the quiz master over an answer. What gave you such confidence?
Aside from the fact that I was very sure of the answer that I gave, it is the usual practice in my school to stand by and defend what we know. Our teacher encourages us to challenge him whenever we think otherwise about his views and when we do we all discuss it and arrive at the right answer.

What are you going to do with your prize money?
Actually, I will get some text books I need for my schooling, especially for my university and keep the rest so that when I need anything else during my university education I will buy it with the money.

What course would you like to study?
I intend to study Organic Chemistry.

What school do you like to attend?
I will like to attend the University of Lagos.

Are you not thinking of a foreign scholarship?
I am thinking of that also. I will like to study at Cambridge or Oxford. But if those fail, I will be proud to attend UNILAG.

A girl is yet to win the PZ Chemistry Challenge. But the Managing Director of the company was magnanimous enough to institute an award for the last girl standing. The MD’s award for the last girl standing for this year went to 16-year-old Mercy Nwachukwu of Penny International Secondary School, who finished eighth and took home a cash prize of N50,000

How do you feel being the last girl standing?
I feel very excited. I feel happy. But, at the same time, I do not feel fulfilled; because I had expected to win. However, I am grateful to God, my parents, my teacher – Mr. Henry – most especially to God.

Which stage was the toughest for you?
The toughest stage for me was the practical stage. It was at that stage that I dropped.

Why do you think no girl has ever won this contest?
I can’t tell actually because I prepared hard enough and summoned all the courage and determination to create a record by being the first girl to win the contest. So, one can’t say it’s due to lack hard work, courage and determination that no girl has won it.

What words do you have for other girls?
It’s high time a girl won this. Girls should be more determined. It’s not as if the boys have more intellect than us. We can do this. I am hoping that a girl from my school will win it because we are already preparing for it. I am hoping one of them will win it next year and make a change for good.

What is your best subject?
Chemistry is my best subject and I enjoy reading it. As my teacher would say, ‘What’s in this world other than Chemistry?’

What course do you want to study and in what country?
I would love to study Medicine and Surgery –that would be in America.

Who is your mentor?
My mentor is my teacher – Mr. Henry.

Who are your role models?
My role models are my mother and my Chemistry teacher.

What are your hobbies?
I love reading Chemistry text books and playing chess and scrabble. I watch music once in a while and I listen to music but I can’t really dance.

Who are your favourite Nigerian music artistes?
Sinach and Ada.

What are you going to do with your prize money?
Since my teacher did not get any money, I will give him some of it and give the rest to my dad.

Mr.  Nnani Odinibe John of Topgrade Secondary School, Surulere, emerged the winner of the teachers’ Chemistry Challenge for the second year running. The Chemistry teacher extraordinaire beat over 500 other Chemistry teachers who entered for the competition to emerge the ultimate champion. From that number that sat an aptitude test online, six were shortlisted for the quiz in which John re-established his superiority and mastery of the subject by clinching the first prize as he did in 2017.  Odinibe has not only proved to be a Chemistry icon but also produced worthy protégés. At the inception of the PZ Chemistry Challenge for senior secondary schools in 2013, he produced the third runner-up and in 2016 his student, Anthony Ekene Ike-Okoro, emerged the winner

Which secondary school did you attend?
Jubilee Model Grammar School, Coker village, Orile Iganmu, Lagos.

What was your best subject in school?
Chemistry was my best subject.

Were you the best Chemistry student back in school?
No, I wasn’t. But I was one of the best.

What was your WAEC grade in Chemistry?
I had a B2.

What year was that?
I wrote WAEC in 2001.

Which university did you attend and what course did you study?
I attended the University of Ibadan and I studied Microbiology.

Why did you choose teaching over other jobs?
After seeking for job for a while I found some opportunities but the conditions attached to the offer were against my principle –I don’t give bribe and won’t falsify my age or document – so I started teaching which I can do without external interference.

If you were not teaching, what would you be doing?
I would love to work in a bank or a federal parastatal.

Are you married?
No.