Senior Wins Five Awards at Prestigious STEM Competition

March 23rd, 2021 | News

Several years of hard work and scientific research paid off for Rachael Tomasko ’21. The Padua senior won first prize in the environmental science division at the 67th Annual Northeastern Ohio Science and Engineering Fair.

Tomasko’s award-winning project examined the potential of using waterlily leafcutter moth (Elophila obliteralis) to control the spread of the invasive aquatic plant, known as yellow floating heart (Nymphoides peltata) in Northeast Ohio.

Tomasko advanced onto the regional competition, which is a few weeks away. She hopes to represent both Padua and Northeast Ohio at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in May 2021.

“I have been participating in NEOSEF since 7th grade, and it was extremely exciting and fulfilling to have finally placed first for my last year,” said Tomasko.

She said Padua science teacher Mr. Seth Jennrich ’95 was her main mentor who helped her with the creation of her projects over the years. “Without his help and motivation, I would not have continued to participate in science fairs in high school,” said Tomasko. She also credited Padua science teacher Dr. Kathy Gorbach with helping to take her project to the next level with statistics.

Mr. Jennrich was so proud of this accomplishment and the recognition Tomasko received. “It’s not just a science fair. It’s very competitive. There are so many good schools (and students) in our area,” said Jennrich. “Rachael spent an unimaginable time on this. She could be a published scientist before leaving high school, which is really cool.”

Tomasko also won four special awards and $550 during the virtual ceremony on Thursday, March 18, 2021. She has not decided where she will be attending college in the fall of 2021, but she plans to double major in biology and chemistry, along with pursuing research in the future.

The Northeastern Ohio Science and Engineering Fair (NEOSEF) is a non-profit, all volunteer organization established in 1953, whose goal is to get young adults interested in science and engineering by participating in a science and engineering competition. The Fair has been held every year since 1954 and is affiliated with the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).