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February 14, 2014
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU readies for 450 science students

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - With the emphasis on STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - Slippery Rock University will again welcome some 450 junior high and senior high students to the 57th annual Region IX Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science as they vie for SRU scholarships and other prizes Feb. 22.

SRU will again offer a $12,000, four-year scholarship to the top senior and the top junior award recipients.

In addition, SRU's mathematics and chemistry departments will present $100 awards for the top senior high student and junior high student presentation in their respective disciplines. SRU's biology department will offer a $100 award for the top senior high student and junior high student presentation in any biological field plus a $200 mentor award to both of the winning students' teacher-sponsors to be used toward the purchase of science supplies at their school.

Top presenters in each discipline also earn cash awards or gift certificates from the Region IX committee or other program sponsors, said William Sigmund, SRU biology professor and event coordinator.

The meeting is an all-day event hosted in various campus academic buildings.

This marks the 17th consecutive year the event has been hosted by SRU, Sigmund said.

"President Cheryl Norton will welcome the judges at a Weisenfluh Dining Hall luncheon, and either the president or Philip Way, our provost and vice president for academic affairs, will be on hand for the 6:15 p.m. awards ceremony in the Smith Student Center," he said.

"Participating students will present their science research projects to a panel of judges for evaluation," he said.

"We see it as a great opportunity to familiarize the region's 7-12 grades with the fine programs we offer, especially in the sciences," Sigmund said. "Typically, three judges evaluate up to 10 short presentations by students who have completed research projects. Judges have an opportunity to ask questions following the formal student presentation, and then each judge independently rates the presentation. Many of the students spend long hours working with their sponsors in designing and carrying out the project, then preparing to present it at the Region IX meeting," he said.

"Both the students and their teachers often learn about the outstanding reputations of our science departments and the opportunities offered at Slippery Rock University, such as being involved in research projects on a one-on-one basis with faculty as part of their day at The Rock," he said.

"Judges often comment on the exceptional quality of many of the projects presented at the meeting," Sigmund said. First Place winners earn the right to compete at the state competition in May.

Students participating in the event will meet at 12:45 p.m. in the Smith Student Center Ballroom before moving to various campus locations to offer their presentations. They will regroup at 4 p.m. for dinner in Boozel Dining Hall before the Smith Center award presentations.

Leah Ann Williams and Robert Penrose are co-directors of Region IX of 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. The commonwealth is divided into 12 regions. PJAS is affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.