By FIONA MURPHY – After countless hours of doing field work, laboring over equations, graphs, spreadsheets, and scientific conclusions, IHS Science Club competitors finally saw their efforts pay off at the 2017 Pittsburgh Regional Engineering and Science Fair (PRESF) this past March. On Friday March 31, individual students, as well as groups from the IHS Science Club, participated in PRESF by displaying their long-term projects at the event held at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh.
The team was accompanied by Indiana High science teacher Michael Lehman. The event was hosted by the Covestro Corporation (previously Bayer) and was open to all students in grades 6-12 from 21 counties in Western Pennsylvania, and one in Maryland.
Students had the chance to compete for scholarship prizes as well as the chance to move on to the International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh in May of 2018.
One difference with this competition compared to other science fairs the IHS Science Club has participated in resided with the judges. The judges at the PRESF were not primarily educators, but rather industry workers who have had real-life occupations in fields such as astronomy, chemistry, and physiology, as well as in creating their own science or engineering businesses. Sophomore Matt Berzonsky reflected on some of the other benefits of PRESF stating, “[The competition] was a great opportunity to view other scientific research and compete for scholarships in science majors.”
Prior to the competition, the ten students labored for months over the projects they would present. Sophomore Tian Schiera presented a project comparing rates of growth of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF) in goldenrod roots depending on where the goldenrod was located. Tian, who worked with Dr. Ellen Yerger at IUP, said, “I really enjoyed working with the IUP professors on this project; it helped me to broaden my horizons and accomplish more. There are more resources available with all the science facilities at IUP.” Schiera won a four year $1,000 scholarship from Saint Francis University for her superior work in biology.
Junior Shane Moran, who tested the nutritional benefits of frozen versus fresh food for stick insects, worked with Dr. Holly Travis of IUP to complete his project. Moran stated, “It’s fun [working with the professors at IUP]. You get your foot in the door at IUP and it gives you insight into what IUP offers; it’s one of the only schools that has various scientific subset majors in my areas of interest.”
Many of the students were more than grateful to have had the opportunity provided to them by the IHS Science Club to work in contingency with the IUP professors to create outstanding, groundbreaking projects that were displayed and acknowledged at the PRESF.
[Photo by Michael Lehman]
Photo Caption: “Science Club members (front) Grace Woolslayer, Tian Schiera, Angel Lin and Raeleigh Smith; (rear) Julian Yerger, Kate Metzger, Layan Jouhari., and Talia Mastalski attended the 2017 Pittsburgh Regional Engineering and Science Fair this past March 31. Not pictured: Shane Moran.