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Twenty students from Harrison-Morton Middle School in Allentown, Pa., earned awards recently at the 2016 Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) regional competition through support from the STEM Valley Mentoring Coalition.
Created and led by the Da Vinci Science Center, the STEM Valley coalition seeks to provide high-quality mentoring in the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – for students from underserved populations and girls. The coalition includes more than 30 community organizations, corporations, and public school systems. Its primary objective is to get students from these populations interested in STEM subjects and to consider pursuing STEM careers.
Former Da Vinci Science Center Board Chairman Frank K. Schweighardt, Ph.D., volunteered in the seventh grade classroom of Harrison-Morton teacher Jessica Donohue for more than five months to help them develop science fair projects and become more acquainted with the scientific process.
Schweighardt and Donohue also earned a $500 grant from the American Chemical Society’s Science Coaches Program. That grant and a matching gift from Dr. Schweighardt and his wife, Yvonne, helped fill Donohue’s classroom with equipment and supplies.
A total of 28 Harrison-Morton students entered the regional PJAS contest through Schweighardt’s mentoring. Seven of those students earned first place awards and advanced to the state PJAS competition in May at Penn State University’s main campus in University Park, Pa.
Schweighardt also reports that a number of students who never considered careers in the science are now doing so for the first time. He considers that development a win much greater than anything that can be awarded at any science competition.