Thursday, May 1, 2003
Milliones Physics Program Winners at Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science
Two area middle schoolers in the Carnegie Mellon/Milliones Physics Concepts Program were honored May 19 at the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science State Competition, held in Harrisburg. The students, from Milliones Technological Academy, a middle school in the Hill District, worked one on one with Carnegie Mellon student mentors. Charles Gipson's project, Chalk Bridges: reinforcing for tension and compression, won a first place award. Gipson, a seventh grader, worked with architect major Yu Hsien to construct chalk bridges with various support to test the concepts of tension versus compression, forces which must be considered when designing any structure. Gipson developed a chalk bridge that could withstand a load of over 35 lbs and provided an explanation behind this remarkable phenomenon. Janthina Johnson's project, "Sun Spectroscopy: composition of the sun," won a second place award. Johnson teamed up with physics major Denia Djokic to carry out a spectral analysis of the sun. By comparing the sun's spectrum to spectra of known atomic systems, which she also analyzed, she could identify some of the major components of the sun.
These students were among a group of about 30 students who studied physics concepts and developed experiments to test related hypotheses as part of the Carnegie Mellon/Milliones Program. Charles and Janthina participated in the PJAS competition after winning first place at the Jr. Academy of Science Fair in the Pittsburgh region earlier this year. Led since 1998 by Leonard Kisslinger, professor of physics at Carnegie Mellon, the Program is making a difference in the lives of these inner-city children, and the Milliones administration feels it has inproved the spirit of the entire school. Professor Thomas Ferguson is co-cordinator of the Program, which receives support from the Buhl and Grable Foundations , and which relies on Dr. Barry Luokkala and Special Lecturer Stacey Benson for providing Physics Department facilities for these rather ambitious projects.