In its ninth year, the program works with urban youth from seven different counties, Atlantic, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex Passaic and Union. Students participate in hands-on activities exploring biochemistry, biotechnology, marine and environmental sciences, physics, and engineering.
Participants have completed their freshman year in high school and must be recommended by a teacher. Each year, 53 students are chosen to participate in the program. Selected youth must provide a minimum of 50 hours of service to their local 4-H program.
Kristin Hunter-Thomson, Rutgers University's Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Program Coordinator has been a part of the program for five years. The program is interdisciplinary so it exposes students to a wide range of science.
Students have the opportunity to live on Cook campus in New Brunswick for a week. They are exposed to different kinds of scientists. "Our program shows kids there is much more than just medicine in science."
The students spend a week with Rutgers scientists, talking about their work, touring their labs and learning about their research.
For Hunter-Thomson the exciting part of the program is getting the students involved in the hands-on experience. Rather than just seeing pictures or watching the Discovery Channel, they get in the field to hold the fish, see it squirm, identify it and talk with other students about marine life.
"We get them into the river for a hands-on experience, it's a cool opportunity."
Patti Sapone may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @psapone. Find NJ.com on Facebook.