Here at Harrisburg Academy, the sky is the limit for our Upper School students! They push themselves above and beyond the limits of their normal school day to delve deep and conduct research on a topic of their choice through our Center for Experimental Sciences. Their quest for knowledge and the desire to excel led us to develop a partnership with Harrisburg University, whose experiential learning model was a perfect fit for our students. This academic year, we introduced our Upper School students to the science labs at Harrisburg University (HU), and they embraced this opportunity with much excitement.

Our students conducted four independent science projects at HU’s biotechnology lab. The first project was “The Effect of Caffeine on E-Coli Bacteria,” conducted by Amy L. ’18 and Dalia S. ’20, followed by additional student projects. Praneeta B. ’21 worked on “Alternative Methods to Fight Antibiotic Resistance,” and Zishan L. ’20 worked on “Power the Future: Producing Gas by Using Curcumin Solution and Formic Acid.”

After their individual research proposals were accepted by HU’s biotechnology department, we met with the professor to further discuss and finalize the projects. The students conducted their research at the university after the school day, and also during Centers time, depending on their individual schedules. They visited the lab twice weekly, working on their projects for at least 3-4 hours per session. The professor and the lab assistant were present to guide and help analyze their work and teach them how to handle the lab equipment. Our students were thrilled to learn how to work the autoclaves, the stirrers and shakers, and the various pieces of art lab equipment.

These young scientists worked diligently, completed their projects in the allocated time, and competed at the 2018 Capital Area Science and Engineering Fair (CASEF) in February. At this competition, Zishan, Amy, and Dalia were the category winners in Chemistry and Microbiology, respectively. In addition, these three young women and Praneeta all won first place awards for their projects.

As their Centers director/advisor on this initiative, I am proud of their hard work — and I look forward to collaborating more projects and sessions with Harrisburg University.

Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.