Bristol-Myers Squibb Donation to Benefit Students at The Pennington School and Beyond

10/29/2009

PENNINGTON, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Students at The Pennington School will have an unprecedented opportunity this year to conduct hands-on, high-tech science projects, thanks to sophisticated science equipment donated by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY). The instrument – an atomic absorption spectrometer – measures the amounts of different chemical elements present in a particular substance.

Bristol-Myers Squibb, which uses such equipment in research and development, arranged the donation to The Pennington School, an independent school near one of the company’s facilities in the region. The Pennington School was chosen because its facilities could accommodate such a large, sophisticated piece of equipment, and because school officials are committed to making the spectrometer available to other local schools.

“Bristol-Myers Squibb has a deep commitment to the communities where our employees live and work, as well as to the advancement of science education,” said Frederick J. Egenolf, the company’s director of Community Affairs. “We’re pleased to make this equipment available to The Pennington School where it can continue contributing to science by inspiring young learners both at the school and across the region.”

“Like Bristol-Myers Squibb, The Pennington School is committed to research and scientific investigation,” said Penny Townsend, Head of School. “This generous gift offers a unique opportunity to engage our students’ minds and abilities, which is the foundation of a great education.”

The atomic absorption spectrometer can analyze samples of a liquid or of solids in a liquid solution, said Tom Horsley, chair of the Science Department at The Pennington School.

The spectrometer is equipped with a heat source, similar to an acetylene torch, that exposes the sample to extreme temperatures, as high as several thousand degrees Celsius, Horsley said. After the heat atomizes the sample, the instrument exposes the sample to a select wavelength of light. The amount of light absorbed by the sample is directly related to the number of atoms of the selected element present. Detection of quantities as small as 1 part per billion is possible.

The spectrometer recently was installed in a science lab at the school, along with new exhaust vents to protect students and teachers from any fumes that might be noxious if contained in the small classroom space.

The machine is versatile. It could be used for something as basic as determining the mineral content of a particular brand of breakfast cereal, Horsley said, or it could be used to analyze the levels of heavy metals or other contaminants in a sample of soil or fresh water.

Horsley said students will have input in deciding which experiments they will conduct using the spectrometer. He expects the machine will provide learning opportunities for students in physics, biology and environmental studies.

The Pennington School’s 54-acre campus itself will provide some potential projects. There are bodies of water on campus that could be sampled and analyzed, Horsley said. The nearby Delaware River could be sampled as well, he said, to test for mercury, lead or other metals.

As The Pennington School works to integrate the new technology into its curriculum, it will also look for opportunities to share the equipment with other schools in the region.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has been a national leader in efforts to strengthen science teaching through teacher training, curriculum development and direct funding for state-of-the-art science teaching materials.

The company collaborated with Rider University and Montclair State University to create centers for the improvement of science education at the elementary and high school levels.

Last year, Lawrence Township High School used a grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb to implement a revised biology curriculum emphasizing hands-on learning, cross-disciplinary problem solving and better understanding of careers in the biosciences.

Bristol Myers Squibb also led the development of RxeSEARCH: An Educational Journey, an innovative, multidisciplinary curriculum to educate high school students about how medicines are discovered, developed and marketed. The curriculum has been adopted by more than 40 schools in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Iowa.

About Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company committed to discovering, developing and delivering innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information, please visit www.bms.com.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6085904&lang=en

Bristol-Myers SquibbFred Egenolf, 609-292-4875frederick.egenolf@bms.com

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The Pennington School science students Andrew McWhirter of Pennington, Emily Pressman of Lawrenceville, and Eriks Svarcbergs of Ewing demonstrate the use of an atomic absorption spectrometer, which was recently donated to the school by Bristol-Myers Squibb. (Photo: Business Wire)

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