SACP Essay Contest

Each year the 8th grade advanced science students take part in a science essay and two of the best essays are sent to the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP) for their annual contest.  This year AASD went 2/2 taking home a 1st place and Honorable Mention.  Benjamin Francis won $250.00 with his 1st place essay and Veida Miller won $50.00 with an  Honorable Mention.  The topic and both winning essays are listed below.   Congratulations to both of you!

TOPICIf you were given a choice between remote learning or in classroom learning during this pandemic, what would you choose? Give reasons for your choice and be specific as to your choice. When explaining your choice, please refer to scientific knowledge of COVID-19*.

Benjamin Francis Essay

To Be or Not To Be…. In School

Even though I would prefer to attend school for learning, the current COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of education.  Full in classroom learning could easily promote the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  The hybrid method of learning has given an opportunity for fewer students in school, making it possible to maintain a safe distance of six feet between individuals.  However, despite wearing masks, washing hands, using hand sanitizer, and social distancing, the curve has not been deterred in our society.  It continues to climb as the number of positive cases rise each day.  For this reason, I believe it is imperative that full remote learning is the only option.

With COVID-19 forcing schools to conduct most or all of their learning virtually, the amount of time students spend on screens has risen dramatically.  Some students are coping fine, while others are dealing with fatigue, headaches, and strain (Graham).  Even if I could not adapt to full remote learning, I would choose this form of education for one very important reason – my family.  My mother is a nurse manager in charge of the COVID unit at her hospital.  She fears she will get the virus from an infected patient and unknowingly bring it home to our family.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is growing evidence of transmission risk from infected people without symptoms or before the onset of recognized symptoms (Public Health Guidance for Community-Related Exposure).  Could my mother be infected?

My maternal grandmother has smoked cigarettes for years.  My paternal grandmother had a kidney transplant in January, 2020.  She takes numerous anti-rejection medications which weaken her immune system.  My grandfather is diabetic.  My grandparents are all at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Research suggests children can transmit the virus even if they never show symptoms and that they can carry a higher level of the virus and can be more contagious (MedSearch). Even with the appropriate precautions in place, attending school for full classroom teaching puts everyone at risk.  According to the CDC,  Covid spreads by coughing, sneezing, talking, singing, even breathing.  These actions produce respiratory droplets that are inhaled by others.  It is also noted that there is a possibility of airborne transmission.  The virus can contaminate surfaces and objects which are touched by individuals who then touch their own mouth, nose, or eyes (How COVID-19 Spreads).


“Children May Be Silent Carriers of COVID-19.” MedSearch, 3 Sept. 2020, Accessed 18 Nov. 2020.

Graham, Kristen A.  “School is digital, kids are overwhelmed.  How do you manage screen time in the COVID era?” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 20 Oct. 2020,  Accessed 18 Nov. 2020.

“How COVID-19 Spreads.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 Oct. 2020, Accessed 18 Nov. 2020.

“Public Health Guidance for Community-Related Exposure.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Nov. 2020,  Accessed 18 Nov. 2020.

Veida Miller Essay

Remote Learning or In- Classroom

Given the choice between remote learning or in classroom learning during this pandemic, I choose remote learning. Although I miss socially interacting, it is nice to know I am not only keeping myself safe, but others in my family too. I choose remote learning rather than in- classroom learning, because I do not want to put anyone else in danger, I do not want to contract the virus, and It is safer to stay at home!

Firstly, I choose remote learning, because I do not want to put anyone else in danger. According to the CDC. Gov website, citizens aged 85 or older are at the highest risk for COVID- 19. Knowing this, every teenager acts careless. I do not, because if I was careless I would be putting my family in danger. The website states people with underlying medical conditions are also a risk. Knowing this, it motivates me to stay inside and take precautions, because I have a brother with asthma and I do not want to put him in danger.

Secondly, I choose remote learning, because I do not want to contract the virus. Even though I do not have an underlying medical condition, I still fear that it could damage my health. If I was attending school, I would likely contract it, considering there are many cases in my school district. According to UCI, COVID- 19 is deadlier than the flu, it can cause permanent damage to the respiratory system. If I contracted the virus it could cause permanent damage to my lungs, which would negatively affect me, and the well-being of my respiratory system is very important to my health! According to the same website, COVID- 19 is highly contagious, which worries me, because if an infected was in school, it could easily be transferred to me.

Lastly, I choose remote learning, because it is safer to stay at home. Since the whole world took a pause, because of this infectious disease, this affected our community.  Many unsafe events happened as a result. There were many losing family members, riots were occurring, and our community was divided. According to the website, “Decisions made now and in coming months will be some of the most important made in generations.” After reading this, I realized since big decisions are needed everyone is going to be divided once again, it will be safer for me to stay at home to get my education.

Works Cited

“Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019,

“Older Adults and COVID-19.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

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