Mock blood, catapults, colored fire, and more for young scientists

In high school, I loved science and knew that I wanted to make positive contributions in people’s lives. I went to college and majored in pre-med. All was well and good until I landed a co-op position at GSK. Suddenly I was conducting research, using technologies I had no idea existed, and pursuing a science career that wasn’t even on my radar when I thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Every year, about 100 high school students come to GSK’s campus in Upper Merion, PA, for our Visiting Students Day event. This year, it was my turn to chair the event, with the help of 50 GSK volunteers from our R&D division. We wanted them to get a glimpse of the diverse career options they could pursue with a company that discovers and develops medicines to help people in need.

Our goal is always to inspire students to continue their scientific studies and pursue science and technology careers.
— Jon DiPasquale, Senior Scientist, GSK R&D

Students joined us from Strath Haven and Norristown Area high schools, Lower Merion and Radnor ABC programs as well as from two Philadelphia high schools — Julia R. Masterman Laboratory & Demonstration School and the Science Leadership Academy at Beeber. 

GSK scientists prepared ten interactive demonstrations to show how new medicines are discovered, tested, and made. Here is a sample of what the students did in small groups throughout the day:

  • Explored variability and experimental design as they launched projectiles from catapults
  • Made candy in accordance with good manufacturing processes
  • Performed mock blood draws and crunched some pharmacokinetic numbers
  • Identified and stained lung cells
  • Observed the role of in vivo models in biomedical research
  • Learned about chemistry as they made nylon, found out what acid can do to a penny, and witnessed colored fire during the popular elemental burning experiment

The enthusiasm of our presenters was contagious, and I was thrilled to hear the students say that the demonstrations were amazing. Take a listen to what a one of our students (Niemai) and one of our scientists (Heidi) had to say about the day. 

To learn more about GSK’s commitment to science education click here.