On February 4th, five Ellis Upper School students competed in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, or PJAS, regional competition. Those who received first place awards are invited to present their projects again at Penn State in May. My project was on Pennsylvania Moth Species as Indicators of Environmental Change, so I presented in a room with fourteen other students from different schools with similar projects. Each presentation took about ten minutes and then judges asked a few questions, so I was sitting in the presentation room for three hours. Other students were more fortunate and had less people presenting in their rooms, so they could leave earlier to go to lunch and get ready for the awards ceremony.

Rebecca Rust, sophomore, received a first place award for her project about the correlation between time spent on social media and self image. She said her favorite part of the day was “right before presentations begin or right after because you get to talk to other people in your room and it’s always cool to meet new people.” Rebecca recommends PJAS to other students because “even though it can be a lot of work, if you like science it’s fun and there’s a huge sense of accomplishment when you are finished presenting.”

Taylor Robinson, senior, received a first place award for her investigation on cancer prevention mechanisms on Twitter. She also received a four year perseverance award and the Sr. Gabrielle Maze award. Taylor said “I was not nervous to present since this is my fourth year, but I was more excited to showcase my work.” Her favorite part of PJAS was seeing her friends from other schools who she met through science fairs and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Taylor also recommends PJAS to everyone “Science fairs are a way to better presentation skills, form networks with other students, and they are also an opportunity to develop strong scientific research skills.” Overall, listening to others present was a good experience and inspired new project ideas for next year.