What is the best way to stay as dry as possible when walking in the rain?
“The best thing to do is stand straight up and run as fast as you can,” advised young Tilman Guenther, a student at Orefield Middle School.
What household ingredients are a safer alternative to kerosene as fuel for fire breathers?
“I thought it would be flour because baker’s yeast explodes but it was actually a tie between powdered sugar and baking soda,” said Hannah Steele, another student at the school.
Hannah and Tilman were among six “outstanding” Orefield Middle School students honored by Parkland School Board Tuesday night. All six 7th and 8th graders got perfect scores in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science competition in May at Pennsylvania State University.
The children were introduced to the school board by Dianne Haberstroh, who teaches 7th grade at the middle school. She said all six have an opportunity to change the world.
Haberstroh told the board that getting a perfect score in the competition is rare and difficult.
Some board members gasped in amazement when student Steven Berger explained he did a physics project using a tuning fork in air and water to calculate the speed of sound.
Briana De Selm said she studied the placebo affect of soda on the heart rate and blood pressure of a human.
Anna Li studied the amount of friction created between different types of shoe soles and floor types.
Tilman Guenther experimented to determine “how wet you will get when you run through the rain.” He explained: “I built a model and had a small test dummy go through a rain tunnel and I measured how wet it got at different speeds and different postures and developed a formula to find out what speed and what posture is the best if you want to get the least wet in the rain.”
Habertsroh got young Tilman to admit to the school board that he borrowed her umbrella when they were attending the competition at Penn State.
Quipped board member Mark Hanichak: “In strikes me that, in the sprit of safety, if these kids continue on with their projects, we should have Hannah the fire breather practicing in close proximity to Tilman the rain tunnel guy.”
Avera Perosa, who was not at the board meeting, was the sixth student recognized for her accomplishment in that science competition.
Haberstroh said 3,000 students from across the state participated in the science fair.
Also honored by the board was Parkland High School senior Akil Lewis, who won the Men’s Wearhouse Prom Rep Challenge. Using the Internet, he is credited with generating referrals that resulted in 526 tuxedo rentals in his name.
Akil was awarded $58,100 in cash and prizes to be split between himself and Parkland High. The school’s $25,000 donation from Men’s Wearhouse will go into its Post Prom Party Fund. That party is organized each year from 11:30 p.m. till 5 a.m. at the school to give students a safe and fun place to go after the prom.
Parkland superintendent Richard Sniscak told Akil: “Thank you for being so creative. High school post-prom parents will really appreciate your entrepreneurial spirit.”
Added board president Jayne Bartlett: “You left a legacy for us that’s going to be enjoyed by your fellow students for many years to come.”
A very different honor was announced at the end of the meeting by board member Robert Bold.
Bold announced that long-time board member Roberta Marcus will receive the Pennsylvania School Boards Association’s Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award.
Marcus said she was absolutely stunned and tremendously humbled by the honor. “It’s hard for me to be speechless but I am,” she said.
Bold said the award is given to a school board member who does an exemplary job promoting education and helping students by advocating for legislative action.
The late Allwein was a long-time PSBA lobbyist. Marcus, a former PSBA president, worked with him for many years. She said Allwein was a warm and caring person who “always did what was right for public education but, more importantly, what was right for kids.”
Marcus has served on Parkland’s board since 1995 and is a former board president. She was nominated for the honor by Sniscak and her colleagues on the board.
She will accept the award at PSBA’s annual gathering in October.
During the board meeting, assistant superintendent Rodney Troutman gave a detailed presentation highlighting many of the school district’s goals for 2012-13.
Those goals were approved by the board with no discussion.