Liberty Science Center celebrates annual Partners in Science symposium

LSC News

Last night we celebrated our 27th Annual Partners in Science Symposium!

Of the 170 Partners in Science applications received this year, 32 students were selected to participate. Over the summer, those students spent time conducting research at some of the most prestigious labs in the country. At the symposium, students presented the results of their research in front of their parents, research mentors and Partners in Science staff.

Partners in Science provides an intensive, eight-week summer experience for high school juniors and seniors. The program is run by Liberty Science Center’s Associate Director of Science Enrichment, Ruben Rosario and pairs students with mentors in the science, health and technical fields. The students aid their mentors in ongoing research and independent projects.

“I learned a lot of lab skills and critical thinking skills,” said Ruchi Asthana.

Her second year in the program, Ruchi credited Partners in Science for her passion towards pharmacology and medical related research. “When you analyze something, and realize you’ve learned something new, it’s very interesting. Such small tasks in the lab can have such a big impact.”

Gokul Mukunda presents his research at the 2013 Partners in Science Symposium.

For mentor Dr Andrew Gow, the true benefit of the program is that it gets students into a lab and thinking critically. “I’ve been with the program for six years now. Traditional education is great at giving kids facts, but what’s really going to make them creative people is solving problems. You can see from the presentations how well the kids have creatively thought about things.”

Partners in Science participant Emma Frenchu with her mentor Dr Andrew Gow.

The benefits for the lab also extend beyond having an extra pair of hands around. High school students can offer even experienced researchers a fresh outlook.

“You can get very entrenched in your own thoughts,” Dr Gow continued. “And they come in with new questions and then you think about things from a new perspective. Those are the great moments. They come in and they’re not sure what they can ask, they’re not sure what they know, they’re not sure what they’re doing, but as the enthusiasm takes over they really take off.”

Marie Aloia, a teacher in charge of the research and engineering programs at Bayonne High School, regards Partners in Science as an elite experience. “Every year I push out the applications to get as many of my students as possible to try this. Students get real research experiences here. I wish I could give this to as many students as possible.”

Elena Schiavone and partner Mikhail Harvey, a senior at St Peter's Prep who shared, "My favorite moment was when I was catching fish in a pond and my waders got filled up to the brim with water."

Gokul Mukunda, a senior at Colts Neck High School, found that the program offered him a realistic view of the research community. “This program gave us the chance to learn what science truly is. Researchers aren’t these crazy people in lab coats that you’re afraid to approach. They’re just us.”

The program would not be possible with out the generous support of our partners.

  • Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies
  • Novo Nordisk
  • NASA New Jersey Space Grant Consortium
  • The Provident Bank Foundation
  • Toyota USA Foundation
  • Northeastern Chemical Association
  • Drs. Erica and Marc Urquhart

It was a wonderful evening. Congratulations to all of the participants and good luck in the coming school year!

Click here to learn more about Partners in Science and how your students can apply.
Check out more photos from the event on our Facebook Page.

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