govsMadison, NJ – They launched rockets, observed lab rats, gave each other memory tests and studied ancient pottery.

For three weeks, 85 of the top high school science students from across New Jersey studied and researched with Drew University science professors as part of the New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences. On Friday, Aug. 1, they showed off what they’d learned in presentations to Drew faculty and sponsors of the program.

Greeting the students was Drew’s 15th President, Dr. MaryAnn Baenninger, who earned her PhD in psychology from Temple University. “Which one of you is the Nobel Prize winner who is sitting in this room?” she challenged the students. “This whole experience is more than just learning about science. Part of our goal is to teach you other things that will make you better scientists – including problem solving and looking at the world through a critical lens.”

All of the students lived on campus for three weeks and took courses in a variety of topics. They also took part in intensive team research projects and participated in a career day.

Using state-of-the-art technology, one team of students built model rockets, conducted calculations to see what would make them fly higher and faster then shot off the rockets in the Drew campus, recording the results through computer software and a video camera.

Others studied how lab rats reacted to noise and light by measuring the stress levels in the rats. Other teams looked at everything from chemical bonding to using microscopy to study additives found in ancient pottery.

It is the 31st year that Drew has hosted the Governor’s School, a state-sponsored, summer residential enrichment program for high-achieving high school students that started in 1984. The goal of the Governor’s School in the Sciences is to expose students to scientists and advanced science and mathematics topics they are unlikely to study in high school in order to broaden their appreciation and knowledge, and to help prepare them to study science in college.

While at Drew, the students took courses on topics ranging from chemical bonding to the cell biology of cancer; work on lab experiments involving computer science, biochemistry and physics; and take part in projects that involve psychology, chemistry, physics and ecology, among other disciplines.

Several sponsors helped underwrite the cost of the program, which is free to attend for the high school students. Those sponsors included the Independent College Fund of NJ, AT&T, Actavis, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Bayer Healthcare, Celgene and Laura and John Overdeck, among others.

“It was so nice to be with so many like-minded people who have a passion for science,” said Ralph Tancredi Jr., of Wall, who attends Red Bank Catholic High School. “We hung out in the dorms, we took three courses, a lab course and did a team project. We’re like a family now.”

“Everyone had fun and worked together,” said Priyanka Singh of Robbinsville. “I met great people.”

President Baenninger told the students, “We hope your time here has sparked your passion for learning and knowledge, underscored the importance of hard work and collaboration and introduced you to some lifelong friends. On behalf of Drew University, I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Please take advantage of the mentorship and guidance you’ve received here from our science faculty and keep us apprised of your future successes.”