Burlington students to compete in tech
By Rose O’Connor | Correspondent
Emma Tomczynski and Megan Turpin entered kindergarten together in St. Paul School, Burlington, they will graduate from eighth grade this year, and on March 28, the lifelong friends received first place in the Forensic Science category at the Technology Students Association competition held at The College of New Jersey, Ewing.
And after winning first place in the state competition, the Burlington students are now preparing for the next leg of their journey which will take them to Atlanta, Ga., for the national competition to be held June 22 to 26.
As referenced on their website “the Technology Students Association or the TSA, is a national organization of students engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Open to students enrolled in or who have completed technology education courses, TSA’s membership includes more than 250,000 middle and high school students in approximately 2,000 schools spanning 48 states.”
Jessica Murray, eighth grade homeroom teacher, explained how St. Paul School became involved with TSA last year through a teacher who had experienced the organization through his son. Last year, the school ran STREAM as an after school club, but this year it was integrated into the school day during the weekly activity tutorial period. Murray said that meeting during ATP time helped students to be involved in more categories this year. Some of the categories the students entered the competition with included solar car sprint, structural engineering, flight, video game design, website design, inventions and innovations and forensic technology.
To prepare for the forensics category, Tomczynski and Turpin studied case files and also received assistance from Florence Township police detective, Lt. Albert Jacoby, whose children attend St. Paul School.
“We prepared a lot for this competition. We studied a lot of terms, and had Lieutenant Albert Jacoby come in and teach us different crime solving techniques. We did many mock crimes scenes, fingerprint labs, and blood spatter labs. As the competition approached, our Forensics class took an evaluation, and Emma and I got the highest scores,” Turpin shared.
The preparation leading up to the event certainly paid off for Tomczynski and Turpin.
“At the competition, we took a 50-question test with information about vocabulary and scenarios. We then moved on to processing a mock crime scene. We had only 12 minutes! After processing the crime scene, we had to write an analysis based on our procedure, who the suspect was, and why we believed they were the suspect. Megan and I were allowed to discuss this portion of the event together to come up with a joint analysis,” Tomczynski explained.
Commenting on the first place honor, Tomczynski said, “It feels good to have all of our hard work that we did at St. Paul School pay off. It also feels good to crush the stereotype that girls are not very good at math and science!”
“Emma and Megan are phenomenal students who face challenges and adversity with determination, creativity, and perseverance. They work hard, so as surprising as it was to hear our school announced as taking first place, I can’t say I’m really surprised that they rose to the occasion!” Murray offered.
With the state win under their belts, Tomczynski and Turpin are now readying for their trip to Atlanta. To help with travel expenses, Murray said a number of fundraisers are being held to generate about $4,000. Among the fundraisers are a May 12 car wash at the Burlington Chick-fil-A on Route 541 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., mailing letters to local and civic organizations for donations, hosting a movie night/parents’ night out, and teachers hosting a family STREAM night. The students are also going to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office for field training and to speak with the staff in the crime lab.
This competition is something that the girls are certainly looking forward to with enthusiasm.
“With the help of our families and school family, Emma and I are ecstatic to be allowed this opportunity, and look forward to competing at Nationals,” Turpin said.
The St. Paul School family is certainly supportive and pleased with their students who will represent the school on the national level.
“This is what we do at Catholic schools, especially here at St. Paul’s. We provide opportunities for students to excel- and that’s what these girls are doing. I am very proud of them,” Deacon Joseph Rafferty, principal said.
For more information on the fundraising efforts for Tomczynski and Turpin, visit https://stpaulbrl.org/ or email [email protected].[[In-content Ad]]