Students study science over summer

PITTSBURGH – Not many students would want to spend part of their summer before their senior year studying advanced science courses, but for some local students, it served as an opportunity to prepare them for the future.

This summer, seniors Donavan Keen, of South Williamsport, and Anthony Lorson, of Williamsport, attended the five-week program at Carnegie Mellon University. Benjamin Nesselrodt, of Hughesville, attended in 2014.

While attending the ungraded summer enrichment program, students live on campus and take specially designed lecture courses in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics. Students also participate in laboratory courses of their own choosing and engage in team research projects.

“They were all really great courses,” Nesselrodt said. “They were more advanced than high school.”

Even though the classes were at a higher level, he still kept up.

“I expected to be left in the dust,” Nesselrodt said. “Everyone made sure everyone was together and everyone understood.”

The classes were extremely difficult, Lorson said.

“It was a lot more challenging than I expected,” he said. “They were a lot more rigorous than I thought it would have been.”

Even though classes were challenging, they also proved their worth.

“It definitely helped me get into school,” Nesselrodt said. “It helped me learn how to study. I’m really grateful.”

Nesselrodt started attending Dartmouth College in the fall as a freshman.

The program made Keen more excited for college, so much so that he said if he could just skip his senior year and go right to college to study computer science and building supercomputers, he would.

And for Lorson, the program showed him what he did not want.

“It definitely helped me reframe what I’m looking for in college,” Lorson said. “It reframed what I’m going to major in.”

While he originally planned to go to college for biochemistry, his time at the governor’s school showed him his interest in the social sciences, such as global economics.

Nesseldrodt’s favorite experience from his time in the program was getting to spend five weeks with 60 people who all love science, even if he was doing sophomore-and junior-level science courses in that short amount of time on four hours of sleep.

Students attend classes seven days a week while in the program, which allows for little time to do anything else.

Keen said he was warned about the sleep deprivation he would face because of the classes, as well as people wanting to spend time together in the dorms. The most challenging part of the program for him was balancing the social and the academic time.

Yet the program almost did not happen for them or for the other students who attended it.

“We need government funding,” Keen said.

The governor’s school closed in 2009 because of budget cuts. It reopened in 2013 because of a group of alumni who fundraised $150,000, which then was matched with a grant from the state Department of Education, Janet Hurwitz, secretary, said.

“This is the first year of no government funding,” Keen said. “Very generous donors kept the program going. It’s just one sign of how great a program it is.”

Anyone wishing to donate can do so at www.pgssalumni .org/donate.