Ethan Schroeder, an eighth grade student at Mary Queen of Apostles School, is the 2016 recipient of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) Award. PJAS is a statewide educational organization designed to stimulate and promote interest in science through the development of research investigations for junior and senior and high school students.
Three rounds compromise each yearly competition: individual school competition, regions, and then a final round held yearly at Penn State University. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History Award is presented at the PJAS semi-finals level at the Region 7 annual meeting, which serves Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. Ethan won for his project, “Recycled Water Drugs Affect Pollinator and Vector Arthropods”. The award recognizes outstanding student projects and was presented to Ethan on February 6 by Chair of Collections Suzanne McLaren. This award supports Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s goals to make science a relevant and important part of people’s everyday lives, to help people identify themselves as users of scientific principles, and to encourage our communities to actively steward the Earth and its resources.
Ethan developed an experiment to test whether drugs that make their way into drinking water would affect certain kinds of insects. Ethan tested his hypothesis on pollinators as well as the common house fly. Judges felt that the design of the experiment was clever, that Ethan was not afraid of addressing flaws in his experiment and effectively presented the work to demonstrate his understanding of the experimental process. The judges were also impressed with Ethan’s poise as well as his command of the subject during the question-and-answer period.
Ethan’s project was chosen from among the top zoology entries from seventh and eighth grade students representing 74 schools throughout Region 7. Each project must illustrate the student’s understanding of scientific methods and include data collected from a scientific experiment. Details of each experiment are presented orally to a panel of judges and the other entrants. To be eligible for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History PJAS Award, a student must be recommended by consensus of a panel of judges. McLaren served as one of two judges for the session in which Ethan presented his project. Representing the museum, McLaren then serves as final arbiter and selects the winner from the judges’ recommendations for all Zoology sessions involving seventh and eighth graders, which are based on the merits and uniqueness of the project.
McLaren, who has been selecting the Carnegie PJAS winners since 1984, enjoys the opportunity to present the award during the ceremony at the close of the day. “I like the fact that PJAS students present their results orally, as a professional researcher would.” says McLaren. “The students who win the award are always so visibly excited. That always makes my day.”
The Carnegie PJAS Award winner receives a Certificate of Excellence, free admission for the student and his family to Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Carnegie Museum of Art, and a gift certificate to the museum stores. In addition to winning the Carnegie Museum of Natural History PJAS Award, Ethan’s project received a First Place Award from the PJAS Region 7 judges. He proceeds to the Junior Academy of Science State Finals at Penn State University in May.
Ethan is the son of Edward and Maryellen Schroeder of Tarentum. Mrs. Cheryl Kestner, who teaches Science at Mary Queen of Apostles School, was Ethan’s sponsor.
The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) is a statewide organization of junior and senior high school students designed to stimulate and promote interest in science among its members through the development of research projects and investigations. More information is available at http://www.pjas.net.