A Family for All Seasons
By Richard Close
March is the culminating month for the Hritzo family from Bucks County as it is the start of science fair “season”. But the work actually started years ago. The oldest daughter, Molly, who got the “science research fever” started in the family in 2004 is now a first year student at University of Maryland’s School of Medicine on a full scholarship. Beginning in 9th grade she found a love for science and finding answers to questions by doing a science fair project at Villa Joseph Marie High School. Her first project dealing with a blue jay study in Lower Bucks County garnered her a 1st place award at the Delaware Valley Science Fair and the first of two trips to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). In those two years, Molly won two 3rd place honors competing against the top science students in the world. Her success encouraged her to continue on in the sciences toward an M.D. / Ph.D. as well as provided a new standard for the rest of the family to reach.
The second sister in the family, Bernadette, found she too loved the world of science research and continued in Molly’s footsteps and was selected by the Delaware Valley Science Fair judges to compete at the ISEF 3 out of the 4 years at Villa Joseph Marie High School. Because of the outstanding quality of Bernadette’s work the judges at ISEF recognized her with second, third, and fourth Grand Awards. In her senior year Bernadette was offered a full scholarship to Furman University to pursue a Biology/PreMed degree. She is in her sophomore year and has already traveled to Costa Rica and Africa on research field studies, one sponsored by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Next in line came the third sister, Lucy. She too became a devotee of doing science research projects by watching her sisters demonstrate the art and skill of doing student science research. In just her first two high school years Lucy has already competed twice at the ISEF. This past year she was selected as the top animal science project in the competition, placing her in rare company by being chosen as one of the top 14 projects in the world!
Jim and Diann Hritzo, the girls’ parents, know that their children’s lives have been changed because of their science fair experience. The whole process of the Science Fair: investigating a topic that interested them, the hands-on inquiry of exploring the problem in-depth, continually digging for causes and solutions, being guided by wise and caring mentors, having to condense it to an explainable summary for a display, and answering the thought-provoking questions of the many scientist-judges has truly formed the minds and personalities of these three sisters, Molly, Bernadette, and Lucy. It has made them curious, inquisitive, and persevering in seeking the reasons behind the questions they explore.
Next in line is the youngest sister, Jacqueline. She too has gotten the "bug bite of student science research". Let’s see what happens to her! That same experience is available to any Delaware Valley student who wants to take the “plunge” into the world of student science research projects! Why not give it a try? For information about regional science fairs in the tri-state area please go to www.dvsf.org and click on region fairs or contact the Director of the Delaware Valley Science Fairs, Henry Disston at 215-895-5840.
Richard Close is Director of Outreach for the Delaware Valley Science Fairs.