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H/Posts & Press Releases/Da Vinci Science Center Names its 2015 Student, Educator Award Winners

Da Vinci Science Center Names its 2015 Student, Educator Award Winners

James Olsen
A high school student whose research may change the economics of the cell phone industry, an inspiring student researcher with the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and a NASA fellowship-winning middle school teacher are among the Da Vinci Science Center’s 2015 student and educator Hall of Fame Award winners.

The four student and three educator award winners will be honored during the 2015 Da Vinci Science Center Hall of Fame Gala on April 25, 2015, along with the Center’s 2015 corporate and community award winners – Allentown Mayor Ed and Lisa Pawlowski; education philanthropist Edward Donley; ATAS International, Inc.; St. Luke’s University Health Network; and the Rodale Institute.

The Da Vinci Science Center has bestowed its Hall of Fame Awards annually since 1999 to students who show a unique passion for science, educators who inspire enthusiasm for science with innovative approaches, professionals and companies who bring science to life every day, and partners who support the Center’s mission. All award winners study, work, or influence life in the Center’s service area in eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey.

Four of the seven student and educator award winners are from the urban Allentown and Bethlehem Area school districts and six of the seven winners study or teach in public school districts.

The four winners of the Center’s 2015 Student Excellence Awards are as follows:

  • Milind Jagota, a junior at Liberty High School in Bethlehem, Pa.
  • Julian Mark, a senior at Liberty High School in Bethlehem, Pa.
  • James Olsen, a junior at La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor, Pa.
  • Caroline Pritchard, a senior at Souderton Area High School in Souderton, Pa.

Milind Jagota was a national finalist in the 2014 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) as a sophomore. His research explored the use of thin, invisible wires to create cell phone touch screens. Such wires would be substantially less expensive than the indium tin oxide used currently by smart phone manufacturers. His award is sponsored by Air Products.

Julian Mark has earned three regional Science Olympiad gold medals and a state first place award for independent research from the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS). He also has worked extensively with the NSF International Materials Institute for New Functionality in Glass at Lehigh University. His award is sponsored by PPL.

James Olsen balances his high school studies with work as a visiting scholar in the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Chemistry. He also will be working with scholars at the University of South Florida in the near future to test his chemical compounds against several strains of malaria. His award is sponsored by Frank and Yvonne Schweighardt.

Caroline Pritchard is one of the most decorated high school students to be honored by the Center and the first student of Hispanic decent to receive its Student Excellence Award. Pritchard has earned nearly 20 regional, state, and national awards, and is a student researcher at the prestigious Temple Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Her award is sponsored by Pat and Fran Waller.

The three winners of 2015 Educator Excellence Awards are as follows:

  • Tiffany Houser, a fifth grade teacher at Ironton Elementary School in Coplay, Pa.
  • Joan Preston, a seventh grade teacher at Trexler Middle School in Allentown, Pa.
  • Alexandra Roscher, a mathematics teacher at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pa.

Tiffany Houser is highly respected for her enthusiasm for learning – which is reflected throughout her classroom with hands-on learning that captures her students’ hearts and minds, and motivates them to ask important questions about the world. Houser also represents Ironton Elementary School’s faculty as a Parkland School District Technology Mentor – assisting her peers with the integration of instructional technology and helping them learn how to use emerging technologies for the classroom. Her award is sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Joan Preston earned an Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project fellowship with NASA in Dec. 2009. The prestigious annual program gives approximately 40 teachers opportunities to develop greater understanding of NASA discoveries, participate in workshops and graduate-level courses, and secure NASA content and learning materials for their classrooms. Preston also is an alumnus of the Da Vinci Science Center’s flagship professional development program for educators, known today as the Greater Allentown Math Science Partnership (GAMSP). Her award is sponsored by Lutron Electronics Company.

Alexandra Roscher led a team of students the Pennsylvania state finals of the 2014 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest for a project in which they used technology to research the effects of substance abuse. Roscher also partnered recently with Lehigh University engineering students to develop graphics and materials to encourage youth to pursue STEM careers. Her award is sponsored by B. Braun.

Mayor Pawlowski and his wife, Lisa, will receive the Da Vinci Science Center’s 2015 Spirit of Verrocchio Mentorship Award. Edward Donley will receive the Center’s first Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Bob and Sandy Lovett. ATAS will receive the 2015 Grand Maestro Corporate Award. St. Luke’s University Health Network and Rodale Institute will receive a special topic Excellence in Sustainability Award, which is sponsored by ATAS International.

The annual Da Vinci Science Center Hall of Fame Gala is the Center’s flagship fundraising event. The black-tie-optional evening celebrates outstanding people and groups that bring science to life and the Center’s work to bring lives to science every day. The gala features the annual presentation of the Da Vinci Science Center’s Hall of Fame Awards, a cocktail hour, dinner, silent auction, and live auction. All event proceeds benefit the Center and its programs.

The 2015 Da Vinci Science Center Hall of Fame Gala will take place on Saturday, April 25, 2015, from 5-9 p.m. at the Lisa Scheller-Wayne Woodman Community Services Center at Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC) in Schnecksville, Pa.

News Media Contact @DSC: Dennis Zehner, 484.664.1002, Ext. 112
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