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The burning sensation we get from chili peppers is because of a chemical called Capsaicin.
“The Challenge is an amazing opportunity for young scientists to show what they know and compete in a healthy, friendly environment.”

-Max Troyke
2013 Challenge Participant

You Be The Chemist Challenge Study Materials  You Be The Chemist Challenge

CEF provides study materials to help students succeed at every level of the You Be The Chemist Challenge®. These materials align to the Next Generation Science Standards and include science concepts that appear in many state assessments. A team of chemistry experts and educators, including professors and industry professionals, develops the materials. The information in the study materials exposes students to the fascinating world of chemistry as it applies to everyday life. It shows you how chemicals shape your world!

To prepare for a Challenge competition, students should carefully read and review the information in the Challenge study materials: the Passport to Science Exploration and the periodic table handouts. The Passport is divided into three sections that correspond to the different levels of the Challenge: local, state, and national. Challenge competition questions are based on an overall understanding of chemistry and general science concepts and the relationships among concepts. Challenge questions are largely derived from information contained in CEF’s study materials but are not restricted to this information. CEF encourages students to seek additional examples and explanations of chemistry concepts from outside resources. Doing so will help students answer questions that require them to connect concepts and apply their knowledge of chemistry to both familiar and unfamiliar situations.


Study Materials for the 2014-2015 Challenge cycle will be released in Fall 2014.

  • Study Materials for Qualifying Exam & Local Challenges
    • Passport to Science Exploration: The Core of Chemistry
    • The Periodic Table handout
    • The Element Index
  • Study Materials for State Challenges 
    • Passport to Science Exploration: Chemistry Connections
    • The Periodic Table of Atomic Weights handout
    • You should also continue to review The Core of Chemistry and the Periodic Table handout.
  • Study Materials for the National Challenge 
    • Passport to Science Exploration: Chemistry Concepts in Action
    • You should also continue to review The Core of Chemistry, Chemistry Connections, and both Periodic Table handouts.

Please note: Challenge competition questions (including the Qualifying Exam) are for competition purposes ONLY. Students should NOT receive or use questions (from the current year or any previous years) at any point to study. Use of Challenge competition questions for study purposes is grounds for disqualification. CEF does not endorse or approve the use of any questions for the purposes of preparing for any level of the Challenge.