Between biology, chemistry and physics, hundreds of labs are done throughout the school year.
These labs offer great visuals and hands-on learning experiences. They are also very thought-provoking, which is probably the biggest reason so many WSHS students are interested in science and its related careers.
Multiple WSHS students are involved in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, or PJAS. This is an organization in which students do science labs and compete at a regional and statewide meet.
Samantha Semler, a sophomore, is an especially distinguished participant of PJAS.
Last year was Semler’s first year in the organization and she received a perfect score and first place at both the regional and state competition for her lab.
This is quite the feat and it has caused her to be even further invested in science.
This year, she is hard at work again on another lab. Her project this year “encompassed the idea of finding an efficient way to phytoremediate a copper contaminated area.” She said that the goal was to test a variety of grasses to see which would have the best copper accumulation and tolerance.
Semler traveled to Clarion University on Feb. 3 to use a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to do research on her lab.
“This piece of equipment,” she explained, “was used to show plant damage after being exposed to copper contaminated soil.” Semler was able to see the percentages of various elements that were present. She was also able to view images of the damage done to the grass samples.
Semler’s biology teacher, Mrs. Karen Risinger, visited the university with her.
“She gave me my first experience to be able to communicate with college professors,” Semler said. Semler also said that it was amazing for Risinger to take time out of her day and show her what college life is all about.
Risinger just took her annual surgery-viewing field trip with her AP Biology students on Jan. 31. She and Mr. Jeff Hankey, another science teacher from WSHS, traveled to Allegheny General Hospital with 11 AP Biology students that showed an interest in the medical field.
Juniors Brittany Coleman, Wyatt Lager, Kile Cornman, Lydia Ortman, Evan Cessna, Emily Peters, Abigail Oesterling, Sophie Fusaro and Justin Smulik and seniors Shelby Cessna and Wyatt Miller went on the trip.
The students and teachers met the assistant coordinator of open-heart surgery, Lindsey Zern. She explained who was doing what in the operating room and walked them through the septal myectomy.
Fusaro explained that in this surgery, doctors have to cut through the chest bone in order to get to the heart. She said that this surgery helped to give an example of how blood pumps through a heart.
Peters said that she also learned how doctors “manipulate the heart in order to stop it, but still keep the blood flowing by using a profusion machine.”
Cessna said that this trip was one of the best experiences he has ever had in his life. Ortman said that “this was the most informative and beneficial” field trip she has ever gone on, and Coleman said that “this is a once in a lifetime experience.”
All students who went on this trip said that it was very advantageous and interesting. It will certainly continue in the years to come.