Tag Archives: West Windsor Plainsboro News

Jim Looney: Science educator extraordinaire

I’m happy to share good this news, offered by Dr. Karen Zumbrunn. Karen – and Jim and Anna Looney -are good friends of mine at Princeton United Methodist church. Congratulations to all involved in this exciting project, and good luck in Wisconsin! 

looney london

For the second year in a row, the Science Olympiad team at West Windsor-Plainsboro North High School will represent New Jersey at the National Science Olympiad to be held May 19 to 21 at the University of Wisconsin-(Stout campus) in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

The team is coached by Dr. Jim Looney, who has taught in the West Windsor-Plainsboro system since 1999. He was recently named Teacher of the Year by his colleagues at WW-P North.

From a pool of 60-70 students two teams of 18 members each are selected. For the state competition each school can bring only one team to compete. For the nationals 15 members and 7 alternates are selected. During the year the teams went to invitational tournaments in CT, PA, NJ, NY and also prepared at the local public library and in each other’s homes.

The Science Olympiad has 25 events in all aspects of Science.  Some events are tests, such as Disease Detective, and Dynamic Planet. Other events, such as Forensics, Anatomy, Fossils, have a lab component. Still others require building a device, such as a Robot Arm or Protein Modeling. Participants can win individual medals; the team score is based on the total score from all events.

At the national tournament the WW-PN team will meet teams from all over the country and have challenges at a high level of competition. The Science Olympiad provides opportunities to develop leadership skills and learn the value of teamwork.

“As a coach, I am responsible for the tests, team selection, mentoring and organization” says Looney, but he credits physics teacher Regina Celin, biology teacher Holly Crochetiere, and chemistry teacher Kerry Pross, who are indispensable help in organizing, coaching and attending competitions. Looney acknowledges, “Coaching is such a time and labor-intensive job that it would be impossible to do all we do without their help” and assistance of other faculty as well as supportive parents. He himself brings extensive science experience in laboratory work in molecular biology in both commercial, medical  and academic contexts. He holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics from Columbia University.

Dr. Looney is active at Princeton United Methodist Church. For several years he went with church youth for an Appalachian service project. He has served  as president of the United Methodist Men’s Group. He is married to Dr. Anna Looney, an assistant professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. They have one child, Emily, a family physician who lives in the Pacific Northwest and is completing a fellowship in hospice and palliative care.

Science Olympiad team North

Plainsboro partner: Eileen N. Sinett

Speaking That Connects, owned by Eileen  N. Sinett, was named Small Business of the Year at today’s beileen insidereakfast held by the Plainsboro Business Partnership, part of the Princeton Regional Chamber. “Well deserved” was the often-heard kudo for the former chairman of the PBP who coaches professionals and corporate teams to enhance their communication and presentation performance and dedicates Monday nights to facilitating a Conversational ESL group at Plainsboro Public Library.

Mayor Peter Cantu spoke, and though you’ll get better detail from Vincent Xu in the next edition of West Windsor-Plainsboro News, here are some of the facts I was surprised to learn:

  • More than 50 percent of the township is open space
  • Plainsboro has an record-holding tax collection record– 99.6 percent, contributing to its AAA bond rating
  • Child care and assisted living centers will break ground near the hospital this year, and a 300-unit senior housing development i planned.
  • Forrestal Village, ever struggling, could get 395 apartments with a “unique design.”
  • New retailers will be Panera, Five Guys, and a pet supply store but alas — no grocery store is imminent.
  • Eight major companies have earned the state Good Neighbor award, with Sandoz the most recent.
  • Gym rats rejoice, a 25,000 foot health spa is going through the approval process.

And — considering that Plainsboro ranks 5th nationally in “diversity” (translated, that means a population that is not primarily Caucasian) — it’s not surprising that the newest addition to the athletic scene will be a regulation cricket field. According to one sports reporter, cricket is the new soccer. A  “capital commitment” has been made and, meanwhile, the next nearest field seems to be in North Brunswick. 





It’s a Good Story

Cornerstone Community Kitchen,  a partnership between Princeton United Methodist Church and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, has been in the news. On January 3 the Times of Trenton printed a photo essay by Martin Griff.  The previous week, West Windsor-Plainsboro News featured some volunteers from West Windsor on the front page. The Princeton Packet and Town Topics have also provided excellent coverage.

When I thank editors who run this story, I often get the same answer: “It’s a good story…”