Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair

By: Justin Cook

At the 78th Annual Covestro Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair, Senior Justin Cook was awarded 4th place out of 85 students in the Category of Senior Biology. Justin presented his experiment entitled Bioluminescence of Dinoflagellates as a Bioassay to various active science professionals. Justin also received the Honorary Scientist Award for his 6 years of competition at PRSEF. Sophomore Allyson Foster competed for the first time and was awarded a Covestro Sponsor Award. Allyson presented her experiment entitled How White Are Your Teeth? She was given this award by an expert in the science field for the methodology and practical use of her experiment.

The Covestro Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair (PRSEF) is a science competition held every year at Heinz Field on Pittsburgh’s Northside. Competition is open to all students in grades 6-12, and in 2016, there were over 1200 students present for competition. PRSEF is the third oldest science fair in the nation, and it qualifies students to attend the International Science and Engineering Fair!

Students who decide to compete at PRSEF must first come up with an idea for an experiment. This experiment can be in almost any scientific discipline, as the categories for high school students are: behavioral and social science, biology, chemistry, computer science/math, earth/space/environment, engineering/robotics, medicine/health/microbiology, and physics. The possibilities are endless in finding the right experiment topic. It is essential that students enjoy their topic as they will be discussing the details of their research with multiple industry professionals and scientists. Conducting research at the high school level can be challenging, however, one can learn a great deal about time management.

Students conduct their experiments during the winter months, and analyze their results that they will present at the experiment. Students create a presentation board to display on the day of competition. All aspects of the experiment are included in the display from the investigative procedures to the conclusions, and photographs are included to jazz up the poster.

On competition day, students will travel to Heinz Field and set up their presentations in the club level. Students then travel to the Carnegie Science Center to experience the museum and attend orientation. Afterwards, students return to Heinz Field to converse with judges about their research and answer any questions that they might have regarding the experiment. Different judges assess experiments for category awards, sponsor awards, and scholarship awards. Every sponsor award comes with a medal and a $50 dollar check! At the competition this past year, sponsors from the Navy, US Steel, and the Allegheny County Health Department, among many others, were present to award over 1 million dollars in awards and prizes! Local colleges and universities also offer scholarships to outstanding students.

When applying to college, especially in a field of science, it is beneficial to have previous laboratory and experimental experience, which can come from participation in this activity. Students who love math and science should participate in both PRSEF and the more commonly known, Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science because they are great opportunities. Students can strengthen their public speaking skills, explore fields of science that they might not be able to in formal education, and meet new people who share similar interests. No matter if one wins or loses, there is a great amount of fun and valuable experience that can come from conducting scientific research.

Interested Students can Contact:


  • Student Leaders: Justin Cook and Mary Kutschke
  • Moderator: Miss Sopczynski


Or Visit http://www.scitechfestival.com/mainsf.asp for more information.

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