Victorian Titration Competition 2021

Written by  Dr Claire Weekley, MRACI

Published 5 November 2021

The Victorian Titration Competition is one of the highlights of the RACI Victorian Branch year, involving hundreds of senior high school chemistry students across the state testing their acid-base titration skills. With the cancellation of the 2020 competition due to COVID-19 lockdowns, we were keen for its return in 2021. While COVID-19 ultimately limited participation in the 2021 competition, we were pleased that it was able to go ahead and planning for a 2022 competition – in a fully vaccinated society – has commenced.
The 2021 Competition Rollercoaster
The 2021 competition was on track when the RACI Branch Office received 292 individual titration kits from Rowe Scientific in July. These towers of kits were sorted and collected by volunteers from the Branch committee who gave hours - even days - to personally deliver kits to 54 schools across the state. You can see some of these efforts at the Twitter hashtag #TitrationsVIC2021. 80% of the kits had been delivered before we were hit by Lockdown 5 and the remainder delivered immediately after, only for the state to enter our sixth and final lockdown. You can see in this map the suburbs and towns of schools that registered for the competition, from Burwood to Bright to Ballarat!

Ultimately, 37 teams from 8 schools were able to participate in the competition, somehow finding the time to spend 100 minutes performing titrations between lockdowns and assessment tasks. We congratulate each and every student on their participation under difficult circumstances, as well as to the teachers and support staff who made it happen. For the remaining schools, the kits they received this year can be used to enter the 2022 competition.
Titrations and Results
Each team member performed two sets of acid-base titrations, the first to determine the concentration of an unknown NaOH solution before using the same NaOH solution to determine the concentration of an unknown ethanoic acid solution. Teams submitted their results via an online form and were assessed on the cumulative accuracy of their determination of the ethanoic acid concentration of three supplied solutions. The accuracy was determined by comparison of the calculated ethanoic acid concentrations to the actual concentrations measured by the supplier and competition sponsor, Rowe Scientific. Teams at the same level of accuracy were then separated by the precision of their titrations.

We congratulate the winning team from Carey Baptist Grammar, which will be awarded the Shield, named after Jenny Sharwood OAM who has dedicated countless hours to chemical education in Victoria and to the RACI VIC Branch. Teams from Methodist Ladies’ College, Avila College, St Joseph’s College (Echuca), St Margaret’s Berwick Grammar and Kardinia International College rounded out the top 10. We note that the members of the top two teams all submitted results that were accurate to within 0.5% of the actual ethanoic concentrations, members of the top eight teams were all within 1% and members of the top 14 teams were within 2%.
We Couldn’t Do it Without…
We thank Rowe Scientific for their generous sponsorship of the competition. Students from the top 10 teams have been awarded vouchers to congratulate them on their achievements. 

Members of the RACI Victorian Branch committee dedicated hours of their time to running this competition with the support of the Victorian Branch Office, particularly Alyce Scanlon-Batt. We also thank teachers in the Chemical Education Group who provided invaluable advice.

Most importantly, we thank all of the teachers who registered for this year’s competition, demonstrating their commitment to chemical education by providing their students with the opportunity to learn and test their chemical skills. We look forward to dozens of schools and hundreds of students being able to participate in 2022.

Members of the 2021 Titration Competition Working Group: Colin Allison, Yvonne Mah, Jenny Sharwood, Richard Thwaites, Claire Weekley
Delivery volunteers: Enrico della Gaspera, Jess Holien, Anitha Kopinathan, Susan Northfield, Rajesh Ramanathan

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