STEM

Pennsylvania High School Students Conduct Chocolate Research at Penn State

A group of low-income, first generation high school students in Pennsylvania have finished a six-week summer research project at Penn State University.

The students were participants in the university's College of Agricultural Sciences Summer Experience (CASSE) program, which took place over six weeks in June and July. The high school students worked under the supervision of graduate researchers in the college's Department of Food Science. Together, they studied how to make a healthier chocolate bar by increasing the level of flavanols in chocolate they produced in the college's dry pilot plant and chemistry teaching lab.

The healthier chocolate development project was just one of the research projects conducted as part of the CASSE program. Other students in the program participated in research projects such as one about rapid vaccine development and another about detection and sequencing of a plant virus.

This is the fourth year in a row that the college has run the CASSE program, which is organized by its college's Office of Multicultural Affairs in partnership with Penn State's Upward Bound Math and Science, a federally funded program serving low-income, first generation high school students who have a strong interest in pursuing college studies in science or math. Participants live on campus in dorms while gaining hands-on experience in agricultural science.

Other Penn State colleges also offer summer research experience programs for high school students. "This is my third year in the program," said Afrah Mohamednur, a senior at Sci Tech High School in Harrisburg, in a Penn State news report. "I've been in Summer Experience in Earth and Mineral Sciences and Summer Experience in the Eberly College of Science, and this is my first year in CASSE. The agriculture field is interesting to me, as well as food science."

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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