2 Baldwin students shine at science competition

The Baldwin Bean in action as Baldwin High School hosted PJAS Science Fair.

Senior Grace Toman’s research into water quality showed that poorer communities can have slightly lower quality water. 

It also landed her a first-place certification Saturday at the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science competition, which was hosted at Baldwin High School. 

Senior Sam Petrovich, Baldwin’s other participant, earned a second-place certification for his project on photosynthetic productivity and carbon dioxide absorption. 

Baldwin hosted over 400 students from 50 different schools for PJAS, a statewide competition for middle and high school students. It is an opportunity for students to share their findings in the scientific and technological fields. 

Toman’s research showed a link between the quality of water and the median income of the households in the community. 

“There was a correlation: The poor communities did have worse water, but it was such a small difference that there is no need to worry. However, I told the judges that it could be reason to test other communities, as the water quality may be more detrimental to poorer communities,” Toman said. 

Science Club sponsor Rachel Neil said that she was proud of Toman and Petrovich. She also applauded the Baldwin student volunteers who helped out at the competition. 

“I heard nothing but good things, including some people that posted on Facebook, judges who have judged in the past,” Neil said.

First-time PJAS participant Avery Litwin, a sophomore from Shady Side Academy High School, enjoyed the experience.

“I haven’t done it before so I was just nervous to present my research and nervous to get up there and talk to everybody, but overall it was a great experience,” Litwin said.   

Samantha Niggel, a Baldwin sophomore and volunteer at the competition, was a room leader, which meant she was the “first line of defense if something went wrong,” Niggel said. 

Niggel said that her experience helping out was “overall positive” and that everything went “very smoothly with the help of our tech team and Ms. Neil.” 

Sophomore Sally Tan from Mount Lebanon High School volunteered as a technician at PJAS, timing the presenters. After viewing various presentations, she has decided to create her own next year.

“This made me want to make a project next year and participate, rather than just be a timer,” Tan said. “ I was quite inspired by being a technician in chemistry.”