Knightdale High student lobbies for AP class on campus

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Credits to: East Wake News/DENISE SHERMAN

KNIGHTDALE - When Knightdale High School junior Chelsea Sumner found out advanced placement chemistry likely wouldn't be offered as a class because not enough students sign up, she turned into a recruiter.

She texted friends. She visited classrooms. She talked it up. And now, one month later, she has names of 30 people who want to take the AP course.

At least 20 of them must register for it later this month in order for the school to schedule it, said Sumner, the daughter of Beatice and Reginald Sumner.

Principal Carla Jernigan said AP Chemistry has been offered in the past, but that only one or two students were interested, not enough to schedule a class. The students didn't register for the on-line course the school offered as an alternative, Jernigan said.

The number of advanced placement courses at the high school has become an issue for Knightdale 100, a grassroots education advocacy group. Knightdale 100 says the high school lags behind others in the county on its AP offerings. The group plans to lobby for more of the courses that can provide college credit if a student's scores are high enough on the exam given at the end of each year.

Sumner's passion for chemistry is clear. Not only is she trying to get a higher level class taught at her school, but she has racked up several science awards for a project she did in Project SEED, a year-round science enrichment program.

Last summer, Sumner and other students accepted into the program worked with a faculty mentor at N.C. State on a research project.

Sumner's was "The effect of catalase on the oxidation of hydrogen peroxide at carbon fiber microelectrodes using fast scan cyclic voltammetry." The paper shows that the natural chemical acetylcholine can be broken down into hydrogen peroxide.

The real life application of all this is that scientists can study the effects of pleasure-causing foods and drugs in the body with hopes of finding ways to treat addiction.

Alcohol and drug addiction costs the country $247.7 billion a year and without the problem that money could be put to a better use, said Chelsea.

"I wanted to do something that could help people and make our world a better place," she said.

Before SEED, she said she had no idea what her career path would be, but now she wants to earn a doctorate in pharmacology and start her own pharmacy consulting business.

Project SEED gave her a body of work that she has since used to enter science competitions.

She won first place in the local American Chemical Society contest, was a finalist for the 2010 Neuroscience Research project, a national competition. And she was a winner in the International Science Challenge and will travel to China in March to participate in the Beijing Youth Science Competition.

Chelsea has already encouraged students in her advanced environmental science class to register for AP courses. And she will make her AP Chemistry pitch to a chemistry honors class soon.

Tentative plans are for the school to offer a semester of chemistry in conjunction with a semester of physics that would include a chemistry review for the AP exam, said Rebecca Adcock, a chemistry teacher at the school.

"She is an advocate for students," said Adcock. "And she applies chemistry to real world problems." or 269-6101 ext. 101


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