Science OlympiaNZ


NZChO NZ Chemistry Olympiad

Who We Are:

The International Chemistry Olympiad started in Eastern Europe in 1968 and has grown to about 75 countries with New Zealand first competing in 1992. The NZ Chemistry Olympiad is a charitable organization managed by a group of trustees and each year the program is run on a voluntary basis by a small group of dedicated secondary and tertiary teachers.

To compete a student must be under 20 years of age and enrolled in a secondary school. To be eligible for travel to the International competition the student must be at least 15 years of age at the time of travel.
The New Zealand program involves:

  • A 2- hour written exam in late October or early November which selects 80-100 students,
  • A series of problem based assignments (February – March),
  • A second exam in March to select the training group (about 30 with no more than 4 students from any one school),
  • The camp (about 30 students) that takes place in the Term 1 holidays and includes a practical exam and a theory exam that are used to determine the final team of 4 students to represent NZ at the International competition,
  • A training program during term 2 for the final 4 students (in anticipation of international competition).

The International Chemistry Olympiad examinations are arduous and involve a 5 hour practical examination followed 2 days later by a 5 hour theoretical examination. These occupy only 2 days of the week the students spend at the Olympiad, the remainder of the time allowing the students to establish personal and friendly contacts with other like-minded secondary students from a diverse range of cultures. They also are able to get acquainted with various aspects of the life of the host people and country.


Why is the Chemistry Olympiad worthwhile?

  • The sending of teams to the Olympiads provides very powerful motivation and challenge for capable students.
  • The training programs provide a cost-effective approach to enrichment to a wider student population beyond that provided in secondary schools.
  • It attracts top students to a career in science or mathematics.
  • Contact by students and leaders with their counterparts in many other countries benefits science and mathematics education in New Zealand. Teachers as well as tertiary lecturers are regularly mentors for the teams.
  • The performances of the team members demonstrate that the New Zealand education system can produce students that are the equal of the best in the world.


This year’s 50th International Chemistry Olympiad was held in Bratislava (Slovakia) and Prague (Czech Republic) back where it all started 50 years ago.

The four students in the NZ team (shown in the picture R to L) were Stefan Ivanov (Westlake Boys High, Auckland), Steven Ma and Callan Loomes (Auckland Boys Grammar), and Russell Boey (St Andrew’s College, Christchurch). They were accompanied by mentors Dr Buck Rogers (St Peter’s College), Dr Sheila Woodgate (The University of Auckland) and Dr Jan Giffney.

The NZ team earned 3 bronze medals.

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NZCho Website

The 2019 IChO will be held in late July, Paris.