Chemistry Olympiad Mentors

Mentor Duties and Responsibilities

Mentors play a vital role in preparing the nation’s brightest high school students to compete in the International Chemistry Olympiad. Each year, they guide the top 20 students from the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad at a study camp through a series of preparatory problems to test student skills and ultimately select the Team USA for the International Chemistry Olympiad competition.

Mentors are high school teachers and college faculty who serve a 3-year term and receive an honorarium. ACS will provide mentors with a handbook containing detailed guidelines on duties and responsibilities. Most expenses associated with the study camp and the International Chemistry Olympiad are paid by ACS.

Mentors might be required to attend two weekend meetings, one in the Spring to prepare the study camp, and another in late Summer during the ACS National Meeting to give a report on the study camp and IChO to the USNCO Subcommittee.

A mentor’s first summer is spent at the study camp. For the second and third summer, mentors accompany competitors of the International Chemistry Olympiad, where they also serve as a member of the International Jury.

Pre-Study Camp Meeting

Mentors attend a pre-study camp meeting in Colorado Springs (late March, early April) to prepare for the June study camp.

Their work involves:

  • Develop practice problems, study guides and lesson plans in advance of the June study camp
  • Determine fair testing material to prepare students for the international competition
  • Determine daily schedules, faculty staffing and additional curriculum requirements for the study camp

The two-week Olympiad study camp is held early in June at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.

Mentors arrive two days before the camp begins to test experiments, check procedures, write instructions, determine what solutions need to be made and what glassware must be procured.

During the camp, mentors and students become a family unit. All participants live in the same dorm facility, eat all meals together, and share bathrooms and telephones. Mentors are also expected to monitor and motivate the students to behave maturely and to achieve their potential during the study camp experience.


December 2014
Mentors use preparatory problems provided by the host country of the International Chemistry Olympiad to narrow the scope of the testing material. The preparatory problems typically contain as many as 50 theoretical and 10 laboratory problems covering physical, inorganic, organic, analytical, industrial, environmental, and biochemistry.

March/April 2015
Mentors attend a pre-study camp meeting in Colorado Springs (late March, early April) to meet the faculty, determine curriculum, practice tests, and daily schedules for the two-week camp.

June 2015
Mentors attend the two-week Olympiad Study Camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO coaching and turoring students and selecting Team USA at the conclusion of the camp.

July 2015
Mentors accompany Team USA to the International Chemistry Olympiad competition.