West Shamokin Student Achieves State Honors in Chemistry

ASD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Joshua Williams presented West Shamokin Student Samantha Semler a plaque commemorating her accomplishment at winning first place in a Chemistry state competition.

A ninth grade student at West Shamokin Junior-Senior High School has excelled in the field of chemistry.

ASD Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Joshua Williams, conducted a plaque presentation at the Armstrong School District Caucus Meeting last night.

“We had a number of students participate in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Sciences this year. Many of those advanced to states; however, only one of those achieved excellence at states by placing first – Samantha Semler,” Williams said.

The plaque read: “Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Chemistry Aware of Excellence presented to Samantha Semler, West Shamokin Jr. High School. First place in Chemistry, perfect score, 2019 PJAS Competition, May 20, 2019, Penn State University.”

Williams told the school board that hundreds of schools across the state compete in this event.

“It’s a very competitive process across several scientific disciplines. Students can pick one discipline. Samantha chose Chemistry. It’s a student driven project and they do their own kind of research and presentation.”

Semler shared her presentation, but caused eyes to glass over of board members as she spoke in terms they didn’t understand.

“I like to do the oscillating, clock reactions and reactions like the colors change,” Semler explained to the ASD Board. “I decided to do The Briggs-Rausch Reaction. It’s this oscillating, clock reaction. It’s not that common, but I decided to test different hydrogen peroxide concentrations and switching them out and I would track them with this oxygen reader. It’s a color-changing reaction. It will go from clear to yellow to blue and each time the color changes, the oxygen given off by the hydrogen peroxide changes and I thought that was pretty interesting in the chemistry course.”

Semler said that in seventh grade, she had no interest in science or chemistry. However, when she was a student in Mr. Hankey’s class in eighth grade, she motivated her to academic excellence.

“I just want to say Mr. Hankey has been my teacher for 2 years. He’s an amazing teacher. He got me interested in the course, and made me want to go out. When I went out to Slippery Rock last February, I got first place and perfect score. Then I went onto Penn State and I continued to do my lab. I ended up having a problem in the lab because of chemicals having a shelf-life on them, which I wasn’t aware. So I wanted to test that problem and I got another first place, perfect score, at states and I got the best chemistry presentation in the entire state of Pennsylvania.”

Semler received a resounding applause from the school board members and the audience.

She is the daughter of Joseph and Paula Semler of Rural Valley.