Scotch Plains Student Attends Rutgers Science Week

Melanie Williams of Plainfield at Rutgers Science Week measuring chemicals that will be used to extract DNA from strawberry cells. (Photo by Rutgers Cooperative Extension)

Six youths from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County’s 4-H Program attended the Rutgers 4-H Summer Science Program from July 9th to the 13th where they were given the opportunity to explore the world of science and discover what Rutgers has to offer post high school graduation.

“A program like this is a great motivator for our youth,” said Freeholder Vice Chairman Linda Carter. “It exposes teenagers to the limitless possibilities that await them beyond their high school years. I’m happy that the Freeholder Board can help support engaging educational opportunities like this one.”

Rising high school junior Andrew Hall of Scotch Plains was one of the six students to attend the program. Hall was most interested in the opportunity to learn about engineering, which has close ties with his intended college major. “I’m thinking about majoring in computer programming, and it’s interesting to learn within the same field,” he commented. Other student participants include Niah Simmons, Ashley Zarrelli, Zayna Allen, Melanie Williams, and Kaiya Tweedy, all of whom are from Plainfield.

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As part of the program, students had the opportunity to meet with Rutgers researchers, learn more about the application of science in daily life, and explore the varied areas of ongoing research throughout the Rutgers campus. For instance, at the university’s Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences students had the opportunity to see Rutgers’ famed undersea glider and learn about the chemistry and biology of the sea; while at the Exercise Physiology Department those with an interest sports medicine were able to get an inside look at how Rutgers is researching how to treat and prevent injuries related to sports and exercise.

In regards to how the program helps students prepare for college, Hall states, “I think it’s very helpful…they actually let you participate and do activities you might do in college. It’s good for introducing people to new experiences.” Hall also remarked, “I would encourage other students to participate in the program…it was a fun experience and also very educational.”

Participants in the summer program have completed their freshman year in high school and are selected based on teacher recommendations and participation in an extensive application process that includes writing an essay and interviews by their local 4-H staff. The process may seem tough, but Hall points out that it is “not that challenging if you are interested in science.”

The annual Rutgers 4-H Summer Science Program began in 2009, with 45 students drawn from similar urban communities around New Jersey, with the objective of encouraging youth to participate in science and research in a series of interactive activities, and gain a better understanding of opportunities available in science, engineering, and technology. The program is sponsored by the Tyco Corporation.

For more information about the Union County 4-H Program please contact Rutgers Cooperative Extension Agent James Nichnadowicz at 908-654-9854,

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