GG Murgia, Editor

Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science

Ten students from Mr. Hachtman’s Elements of Scientific Research course presented at Region 3’s Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Competition on Feb. 23 at Northampton Community College, with peak performance from all participants and three students achieving perfect scores.

Instead of taking a final exam, Mr. Hachtman had his class construct a research project based on a topic or issue that they found interesting; very fitting for a course that revolves around research.

Students were encouraged to read observation journals, look at articles, and scroll through websites to spark an interest in a certain topic.

After the projects were presented and grades were submitted for the semester, Mr. Hachtman gave his students the opportunity to take their research one step further and present their projects at the Region 3 Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Competition.

The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science is an organization established to provoke an interest in math and science among middle and high school students via research projects.

Competitors had the option to conduct research in one of these thirteen categories: behavioral psychology, biochemistry, biology, botany, chemistry, computer science, earth and space, ecology, engineering, mathematics, microbiology, physics, and zoology.

From studying the Implementation of Radio-Frequency Identification to researching the effect of riparian buffer size on the concentration of nitrates in streams, BHS students covered a variety of interesting topics.

Motivated students from Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, and Schuylkill County came together at NCC to present their projects at the annual competition.

PJAS Competitors faced a panel of judges as they gave a timed oral presentation of their research. Following the presentation, judges were given five minutes to ask the presenter questions.

“We did a mock presentation at the high school for some teachers and administrators, which was certainly scarier than the actual presentation at NCC,” senior participant Nicola Kaye said. “At the actual symposium it was easy going; I was in a room with 3 other Bangor girls and two sweet kids from different schools, so it was a pretty encouraging environment. You couldn’t really notice the intimidating judges over the friendly smiles.”

The scoring rubric was based on a scale from 1-5. All of Bangor’s participants received very high rankings, including Grace Dougherty, Rachel Kromer, and Kaye who all earned perfect scores.

“When I found out that I earned a perfect score I was extremely excited,” Kromer said. “I would have never thought that something like that could have happened.”

Even though the regional competition is over, the research for these students continues. With their first-place rankings, these students are now able to compete at the state competition at Penn State University from May 19-21.

Lehigh Valley Science and Engineering Fair

As if excelling at the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Competition wasn’t enough, these students also recently participated in a poster symposium at the Lehigh Valley Science and Engineering Fair at Lehigh University.

The fair’s judges were absolutely astonished at the amazing quality of the work that these students were able to do in a high school setting.

“At LVSF we had to create a poster representation of our research. Judges came to us, observed our posters, asked questions, and graded our research based on a rubric,” senior participant Gülnur Avci said. “I was in complete awe at the initiative of my classmates and peers from other schools in researching such complex topics.”

The following is a list of the awards that the students received:

1st Place Awards:
Logan Anema (11th grade zoology)
Grace Dougherty (12th grade zoology)
Isabel Smith (12th grade microbiology)
Rachel Kromer (12th grade environmental)
Havyn Steele (12th grade behavioral science)
Gülnur Avci (12th grade computer science)

2nd Place Awards:
Doug Toth (12th grade zoology)
Morgan Shriver (12th grade microbiology)

3rd Place Awards:
Nicola Kaye (12th grade microbiology)
Jessica Baggett (12th grade zoology)

Honorable Mention:
Abi LaCour (12th grade microbiology)

These students will now move on to the state competition which will be held on April 3 at the Philadelphia Expo Center.

Additionally, Avci, Kromer, and Steele will be attending the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium at Juniata College. Here, students are given the opportunity to present their research projects and compete for scholarships.

We wish these Bangor students good luck as they continue to impress a multitude of judges with their highly extensive and admirable research.