Israel’s Olympics team in London has won no medals, but high school pupils from three local schools won a silver and three bronze medals at the 44th annual Chemistry Olympiad in Washington last week.

The Israeli team underwent training at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology and competed against 26 other teams from around the world. The winner of a silver medal was Tzuf Shai Peled from the Experimental School in Misgav (who received a bronze medal last year). The winners of the bronze medals this year were Nadav Orion of the Ben- Gurion High School in Emek Hefer, Uri Teichman from the Comprehensive Gimmel School in Ashdod and Michael Leitzin from the Leo Baeck High School in Haifa.

The international chemistry competition has been held annually for 44 years, but it was only the seventh time in succession that Israel has participated. Previously, at least one of the Israeli participants won a certificate of excellence or medallion, but this was the first time all four received medals.

The Technion’s chemistry faculty is responsible for choosing and preparing the teenage participants – both at theoretical studies in its labs and at training camp.

Prof. Ze’ev Gross from the Technion faculty said the two-day competition includes practical lab work and theoretical tests. The successful teams have usually come from the Far East.

This year, South Korea did exceptionally well, Gross said. Winning the medal for them is an entry card to the best universities in the world – sometimes automatically, without an entrance exam. The Technion offers the Israeli winners the same.

One of the Technion trainers was Dr. Oreana Sokolentz, who as a teenager herself in the former Soviet Union participated in several of the chemistry competitions.