St. Thomas More Preparatory Academy senior Samantha Robeson recently won third place and a $500 scholarship in a national science competition.

St. Thomas More Preparatory Academy senior Samantha Robeson has worked hard to maintain a GPA of 3.99 at the Magnolia Catholic school and that has earned her an acceptance letter from the University of Delaware's prestigious College of Engineering.

But Robeson has not just been working on maintaining her grades. She has also aggressively researched scholarship opportunities that will help her pay for college.

That led her to participate in the recent Student Pugwash USA Science and Technology Election Contest, which she learned about on a scholarship website. She beat hundreds of other entries to capture third place and a $500 prize. Robeson's placement came after she submitted an essay in which she argued for the government to change how science is taught in high schools, laying out a plan that focuses less on memorizing formulas and more on critical thinking. She encouraged peers to probe and ask why and how science works in the world around them.

But, the mathematically inclined Robeson emphasized that her proposal did not get away from the fundamentals of math within science.

"We should learn our math in math class so that when we go into science you have that math," Robeson said. "So, when you go to convert formulas you already know how to do it and how to apply it.

"I think math and science are the most important subjects that we could ever learn because they're all about our world," she added. "And to make improvements to our country we need to get people interested in them."

Robeson said the Student Pugwash USA contest was one of about 40 scholarship opportunities she pursued and it was rewarding to hit pay dirt for this national contest.

"It was nice," she said. "It made me think about the whole field of science and how you learn it."

The nonpartisan Science and Technology Election Contest was first held during the 2008 election to give students a way to talk to the incoming president about critical and often controversial issues in science and technology, organizers said. The 2012 contest was co-sponsored by Arizona State University's Professional Science Masters Program in Science & Technology Policy.

Student Pugwash USA president Sharlissa Moore said other top entries called for better management of shale gas fracking, increased investments in alternative energy research and proposed reforms to curb overuse of antibiotics given to livestock.


AGE 17

SCHOOL St. Thomas More

TOWN Magnolia

YEAR Senior

EXTRACURRICULARS Model UN, National Honor Society, Math League, Art Club, volleyball, swimming and lacrosse