Clemson gives high schoolers hands-on research experience

While most high school students are spending their summers relaxing and catching up on sleep, a select group of South Carolina high schoolers have been spending the first half of their summer working in labs to help cure diseases, track dangerous weather patterns, make our food supply safer and much more. These high schoolers are all aspiring scientists, and are part of the Summer Program for Research Interns sponsored by the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics. Over the course of the internship they worked with Clemson faculty members who serve as mentors, giving the students a real sense of what it’s like to be a researcher.
Hiral Shah, a student from Clemson, who attends Daniel High School says,”It’s not like high school research where you can just do something and mess up and it not be a problem. This is actual research so you have to be really careful with what you are doing. And I’ve never extracted protein and that is my actual project here, so it is a new experience and I am learning a lot.”

Angela Luo and Hiral Shah

McKenzie Alexander from Six Mile and also a Daniel High student, states,”I’ve learned more hands-on, actually what the process of DNA extraction is and exactly what it is that you have to do, instead of just learning about it through books.”
The Summer Program is designed to motivate academically talented high school seniors around the state to pursue careers in science, math, medicine, engineering and research. Instead of being instructed out of textbooks this program gives students a chance to get hands-on experience and receive exposure to interactive “real-world” experiences that could catapult them into the latest fields of biomedical, nanotechnology and alternate fuels research and engineering.
McKenzie Alexander went on to say,”It’s really exciting to know that maybe we’re going to be able to help people out in the future knowing that if we find anti-cancer or anti-diabetic properties that it could maybe cure cancer one day, or diabetes and that would be great.”
The program is influencing many of the students participating including Angela Luo, a Southside High student, who says,”Right now I’m indecisive about which major I want to go into but I’m definitely thinking about genetics and biology after being in this program.”
At the end of the six weeks, the students present their findings. In February they will formally present their work again at the annual South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics Research Colloquium.
(compiled by editor/reporter Jason Belk)

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