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Germantown Academy Upper School Students Excel at Science Fairs

On March 23, Germantown Academy Upper School Science Research students competed at the Montgomery County Science Research Competition (MCSRC), directed by Upper School Science Teacher Philip Rittenhouse 1760. In total, 28 GA students earned first, second, or third place awards, and, in the process, qualified for the virtual Delaware Valley Science Fair (DVSF). 

GA students won $2,475 worth of prize money and additional gifts of swag from professional organizations and private companies. 

On April 6, 26 Upper School science research students competed in the Delaware Valley Science Fair (DVSF), which includes schools from the Lehigh Valley to southern Delaware, and from Chester County to the New Jersey shore. In total, 14 GA students earned first place, second place, third place, or honorable mention awards, while GA students also won 15 special awards. In addition to that, Raina Bandekar '23 was the recipient of the 2nd Place Silver Medal Award for the 11th Grade for her project. Since Bandekar finished second overall in her grade, she also qualified for the Regeneron International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) with an all-expenses paid trip to the fair, which she attended in Atlanta for a week in May.

“I decided to explore the question, ‘Does early gonadectomy predispose canines to cranial cruciate ligament injury’,” Bandekar said. “In simpler terms, does early spaying and neutering -- before 1 year of the age of skeletal maturity -- correlate with a canine having a higher chance of sustaining a rear leg orthopedic injury called CCL injury, which is compatible to the ACL in humans.”

Bandekar said that she got inspiration for the project after she worked as a veterinary technician at her mother’s clinic in New Britain. In the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, she decided to explore her passion in the medical field, but since hands on medical shadowing opportunities are very limited for high school students, she decided to take a position in the animal world. Bandekar said that this was where she discovered the problems of CCL injury in young and generally healthy canines. 

“I decided to create a procedure that was solely executed at the veterinary clinic by using an x-ray machine to take radiographic images of the stifle (knee) and measure certain angles that provided me with information on a canines predisposed to this injury,” Bandekar said. “I received guidance from my mom as well as the orthopedic surgeon that she works with.”

Bandekar added that she received guidance from her mother, as well as the orthopedic surgeon with whom she works. Despite the hard work, Bandekar said she never really expected to win the award. 

“Winning the silver medal was of course very exciting and unexpected,” Bandekar said. “In the past projects in the zoology category, or in non-lab settings, do not tend to be the most show-stopping. In addition, most chosen projects usually have a greater implication in the ‘human’ world. I was so excited to see that my project, which has primary benefits in the animal world and was totally conducted in a non-lab setting, was chosen to go to ISEF. I hope my project will inspire others to pursue their own passions and interests in the scientific world!” 

Grade Name Place at MCSRC DVSF? Awards
9 Sanya Bandekar 1st DVSF

Merck Science Achievement Award (MCSRC)

Mont/Bucks Dental Society Award (MCSRC)

Medicine & Health - 3rd Place (DVSF)

9 Luke Hu 1st DVSF

Computer Science - 3rd Place (DVSF)

American Society of High Way Engineers Honorable Mention (DVSF)

9 Neha Jonnalagadda 1st DVSF  
9 Alycia Steck 1st  

Association of Women Geoscientists (MCSRC)

PA Association of Soil Scientists (MCSRC)

9 Winston Sun 1st DVSF

Gardeners of the Crooked Billet Botany Award (MCSRC)

Botany - 2nd Place (DVSF)

10 Anna Amann 1st DVSF Outdoor Gardeners Botany Award (MCSRC)
10 Zara Bhatt 1st DVSF  
10 Sarah-Grace Coren 3rd DVSF  
10 AJ DiFranco 1st DVSF Zoology - Honorable Mention 
10 Jennifer Durnall      
10 Lucy Fassler 2nd DVSF  
10 Brianna Geist 2nd DVSF  
10 Lily Houston 2nd    
10 Carmela Jenckes 3rd DVSF US Stockholm Junior Water Prize (DVSF)
10 Luke Philip 1st DVSF

MCSTA Engineering Award (MCSRC)

Madeleine Dean Congressional Award for Outstanding Research (MCSRC)

11 Melinda Amorosi 1st DVSF Rita C. Mesthos Behavioral Science Award (MCSRC)
11 Raina Bandekar 1st DVSF

Merck Science Achievement Award (MCSRC)

PA Society for Biomedical Research Award in Veterinary Medicine (MCSRC)

Villanova University Statistics Award (MCSRC)

Silver Medalist (DVSF)

Zoology - 1st Place (DVSF)

11 Yash Chadda      
11  Kayla D'Eletto 2nd DVSF

Merck Science Achievement Award (MCSRC)

GSK Integrated Biological Award (MCSRC)

Zoology - 3rd Place (DVSF)

Society for In Vitro Biology Certificate (DVSF)

11 Adhi Gadre 1st DVSF

MCSTA Medicine & Health Award (MCSRC)

Medicine & Health - Honorable Mention (DVSF)

11 Aayush Kevadia 2nd DVSF

MCSTA Biochemistry Award (MCSRC)

Biochemistry - Honorable Mention (DVSF)

Chromatography Forum of Delaware Valley - 2nd Place (DVSF)

WL Gore and Associates Innovation Award - 1st Place (DVSF)

11 Joseph Richards 1st DVSF

Exelon Energy Engineering Award (MCSRC)

Physics - Honorable Mention (DVSF)

US Air Force Certificate (DVSF)

11 Sarah Beth Sandifer 1st DVSF

Kurumety Family Environmental Award (MCSRC)

Naval Research Environmental Award (MCSRC)

US Department of Agriculture Eastern Regional Research Center Future Scientist Award (DVSF)

11 Samuel Wang 1st DVSF

Naval Research Computer Science Award (MCSRC)

Computer Science - 1st Place (DVSF)

Janssen Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research - 2nd Place (DVSF)

WL Gore and Associates Innovation Award - 2nd Place (DVSF)

Yale Science and Engineering Association (DVSF)

11 Spencer Westover 2nd DVSF Norristown Garden Club Botany Award (MCSRC)
12 Atharv Awasthi 1st DVSF

DOW Chemical Best in Show (MCSRC)

Steve and Mary Beth Young Math Award (MCSRC)

Mathematics - 1st place (DVSF)

DOW Chemical Award - 1st Place (DVSF)

Mu Alpha Theta Award (DVSF)

12 Sangeetha Bhuyan 1st DVSF

MCSRC Purvis Award for Highest Point Total (MCSRC)

Senior Perseverance Award (MCSRC)

MCSTA Zoology Award (MCSRC)

Zoology - 3rd Place (DVSF)

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry - Hudson Delaware Chapter - 1st Place (DVSF)

US Department of Agriculture Eastern Regional Research Center Future Scientist Award (DVSF)

12 Jacob French 1st DVSF  
12 Riya Palkar 1st DVSF

GSK Integrated Biological Medicine & Health Award (MCSRC)

Medicine & Health - 2nd Place (DVSF)

12 Alaina Steck 2nd DVSF

Microbiology - 3rd place (DVSF)

American Society for Microbiology Honorable Mention (DVSF)