Young Science Explorers Program launches its fifth year

The Young Science Explorers Program, a program designed to get adolescents interested in pursuing careers in the field of science, recently launched its fifth year by introducing students to a breadth of career possibilities in science.

Roughly 20 middle school students qualified for the program this year and were able to tour a variety of scientific facilities, with the hope that they would someday envision themselves there. One of the trips the students took was to Emergent BioSolutions' facility in Gaithersburg, where they watched how vaccines are developed with principal scientist in fermentation Jim Mullen.

"I call this my playground or my sandbox," Mullen said. "But I'm very serious about the way I play."

The program is sponsored by MdBio Foundation, MedImmune, Montgomery College and Towson University. Most of the students in this years program are from Gaithersburg, Pyle and Neelsville middle schools and went through Montgomery College, Germantown to apply. The program is in its fifth year and the students are raving about their experiences.

"It's awesome to be around people who like the same thing I do," Rachel Singer, an eighth grader at Pyle Middle School and science enthusiast, said.

"It was really fun," Sebastian Pichardo of German School, Washington, D.C., said. "I liked the most how the lady was showing us an experiment."

The students visited the Black Hills National Park to learn about water pollution. Forensic work with enzymes and an observation of how scientists test for the chemical weapon anthrax occurred at other locations.

The program provides a chance for students to explore and hopefully take on careers as the leaders of the next generation of scientists.