Celebrating science

Science takes center stage at annual Youngsville High School symposium

Thursday’s Science Symposium at YHS draws a crowd of nearly 1,000 each year.

For over 20 years Youngsville High School has been celebrating science.

Each year, said YHS Science teachers Laura Dorunda and Kimberly Means, students in ninth grade Environmental Science, as well as senior Physics and Wildlife Ecology students, come up with projects related to their coursework to present at a group event.

It started, said Dorunda, with one of her former students. Laura Tingley was working with Allegheny College when the Creek Connections program began in 1995. Part of the Creek Connections program was a science symposium event. They also reached out to area k-12 schools to get students there involved in using the creeks as real-world laboratories and having their own symposiums at their individual schools.

Dorunda said that of course YHS would be interested in participating. From that point on, said Dorunda, the event has been an annual occurrence.

Students get around three weeks to choose and develop their projects, said Means, and each project has to relate in some way to the content of their classes. Anything from algae life cycles to wind power and topography are fair game, and around 120 YHS students in grades 9 through 12 participate.

Also on hand at the event this year were representatives from the US Forest Service, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Western Pa. Conservancy, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Conservation District, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and Allegheny College. Each agency was available with information and educational material on environmental issues relevant to the county.

Allegheny College also provides financial support for the event each year, said Dorunda. In all, around 800 people come through the symposium each year, she said, including fellow students, preschool students, YEMS students, and family and friends of the students who present.