Keystone Oaks School District News Article

Students Take First Place at Regional Science Competition, Advance to State Level

PJAS High School Team

Two teams of Keystone Oaks High School students took first and second place during the regional Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) Competition at Duquesne University on Saturday, February 3. 

Kevan Beemsterboer, Patricia Jackson, Mirabella Stump, and Oliver Casadei took first place and will compete at the state level at Penn State University in May. Ana Giampa, Jordan Geller, and Alicia Lehman took second place. Oliver Casadei also won a special award for excellence in civil and environmental engineering.
Students designed unique experiments and were judged on their ability to conduct and convey the results of their experiment using the scientific method. PJAS is a statewide organization of middle and high school students designed to stimulate and promote interest in science among its members through the development of research projects and investigations. 
Keystone Oaks students presented the following projects:  
  • Jordan Geller: Competed in behavioral psychology, her title was, “Do Music Choices and Personality Correlate?” She conducted a study on 23 high school students. They completed two surveys, one about music preferences and another about personality. Then, she analyzed the data by focusing on a few main questions and discovered clear similarities and differences between personality groups. 
  • Kevan Beemsterboer: Competed in Microbiology, his title was, “Thawing Meat: Minimizing bacterial growth.” He compared the bacterial growth  two samples of meat to a control sample. One sample was defrosted in room temperature while the other was defrosted in the refrigerator. His study showed that the amount of bacteria growing on meat while being defrosted was higher in the room temperature method. 
  • Alicia Lehman: Competed in Zoology, her title was, “Bacteria Growth in the Mouth of Canines, Based on Age.” She visited the Humane Animal Resource downtown and swabbed samples of canines saliva, she plated them on Agar plates and counted bacteria on the samples. She found that older dogs had increased amounts of bacteria in their saliva. 
  • Mirabella Stump: Competed in Environmental Science, her title was, “Carbon Dioxide Emissions Based on Different Model Years” She collected samples of car emissions of the same model car but different model years. She then syringed the emissions into Bromoblue a substance used in chemistry to show CO2 levels by color change. She made a bromoblue scale based on different levels of CO2 and then compared the car samples to the scale. She noticed a correlation in amount of CO2 emissions based on how old the vehicle was. Older vehicles emitted more CO2 than newer vehicles. 
  • Oliver Casadei: Competed in Chemistry, his title was, “Are Chemicals the Best Way to Treat Contaminated Water?” He received samples of creek water that had been contaminated by local mines. After that, he researched methods of filtering contaminated water and compared the filtering methods to one another. He measured pH, Color, Odor, and noticed that after each method of filtration the water began to reach a neutral pH (of 7). He concluded that Charcoal was the best method of filtering water. 
  • Patricia Jackson: Competed in Behavioral Psychology, her title was, “The Paper Effect.” She studied the idea that if you write something down, you have a better chance of remembering it. She gave 10 students the challenge, by creating two lists of words, using a randomizer and noticed a clear correlation with memorizing the words. The paper effect was shown to be supported. 
  • Ana Giampa: Competed in Biology, her title of her project was, “Growing Algae With Supplemental CO2” She used a control clump of Algae and an experimental algae that had supplemental CO2 from a reaction with yeast and sugar. She discovered that although the algae was not blooming in either, the “liveliness” of the algae was much higher in the algae with supplemental CO2. She looked into the engineering implications supplemental CO2 could have for plastics that are made with algae. 

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