Local schools win in Governor’s PA STEM Competition

Every year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) hosts the Governor’s PA STEM Competition, an event that gives students in grades 9-12 the opportunity to test their creativity and inventiveness. The Governor’s PA STEM Competition is held on behalf of Governor Wolf to enhance STEM learning. The competition has been running for nine years and typically consists of regional and state levels. For the last three years, students bypassed the regional level and went directly to the state level.

In the first seven years of the competition, each intermediate unit was only able to send the winning team of their regional competition. The online format of the past two years has allowed more students to display their skills in research and design in the competition.

In April of 2022, the virtual competition’s theme was: “Improving Pennsylvania Through STEM.” Teams of students were tasked with designing a device or project that would solve real-world problems in Pennsylvania. To facilitate this, teams each received $600 to make a prototype of their projects.

The competition was split up into two divisions. Division 1 was made up of students who have participated in the competition within the last 5 years, while division 2 consisted of new participants. The top spots recognized in each division included: grand champion, 1st runner up, 2nd runner up and 3rd runner up.

Four Chester County school districts held top spots in the competition out of 54 competing teams. In division 1, Bishop Shanahan High School was crowned grand champion, with Conestoga High School finishing as 2nd runner-up. In division 2, Downingtown STEM Academy earned grand champion, with Technical College High School (TCHS) Pennock’s Bridge Campus finishing as 2nd runner-up.

Dr. John Janasik, a teacher from Bishop Shanahan High School, has served as the advisor for the school’s team for nine years. “This is our second grand championship; we also won the last in-person competition in 2019,” said Dr. Janasik. “It has been an excellent experience for our students. They not only become involved in developing something they can be proud of, but more importantly, they form strong friendships with their teammates.”

Catherine Dignazio, the advisor for the TCHS Pennock’s Bridge team, guided her group of students through their first ever competition. “The most memorable part for me was having the opportunity to coach some awesome students. I would give them a few suggestions and they would run with it. It was awe-inspiring for me. The team brainstormed solutions to problems that would help improve the lives of PA citizens.  After a few brainstorming sessions, the team decided that this was a project that would help others and it was a prototype that they felt they could design and create, said Dignazio

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