Immersion Science Program: Frequently Asked Questions

Immersion Science

Q: Who should apply?
The Immersion Science Program is open to all students in the Philadelphia- Tri-State area. Students can self-select to apply for a Philadelphia-only section. Applications are blind-reviewed, so really work to make yourself come to life from the pages of the open-ended questions. The ISP is not a GPA or standardized test-driven program. We are looking for participants that want to contribute academically, socially, and intellectually to the ISP Community. Students who think outside-the-box, have collaborative natures, and will go on to be ambassadors of the ISP are encouraged to apply. The ISP welcomes your talents and problem solving skills as we work together towards a better understand the pathways frequently studied in cancer and the dietary components that affect them.

Q: Am I Eligible?
Participants MUST be 16 years of age prior to the official start of the session applied for. (This is a safety requirement to work in a research laboratory.) Completion of BOTH high school biology and chemistry; neither course may be concurrent A commitment to attend all 11 weeks of this highly competitive program, including the student presentation day in its entirety. Sections run for ~3 hours:

  • Section 1 will run from 8:30am to 11:30am on consecutive Saturdays, with mandatory attendance for the final student presentations
  • Section 2 will run from 12:30pm to 3:30pm on consecutive Saturdays, with mandatory attendance for the final student presentations

Parental consent is required for student participation (please see application). Selected participants will complete the on-boarding process through the Fox Chase Office of Volunteer Services

Q: What is the age requirement to participate in the Immersion Science Program?
Due to safety standards, participants must be at least 16 years of age (includes virtual program).

Q: What is the science requirement for participation in the Immersion Science Program?
All participants will have completed both biology and chemistry. These can be general, Honors, or AP level. Neither course may be concurrent. Exceptions are made for students that previously participated in Immersion Essentials or T-ISP trained classrooms.

Q: Which schools/districts are able to have their students submit applications?
All schools are welcome to support their students in their applications. The participants must be able to provide their own transportation on the given session days. The ISP has had participants from 7 PA counties, MD, and NJ attend various programs. Applications have also been sent from Delaware schools.

Q: What is the exact due date for applying to the ISP?
This date changes slightly each year and will be posted on the ISP-Fox Chase Cancer Center page, on the ISP Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.

Q: I have checked the web page (Immersion Science Program) and there is no link available to download an application. Have I missed the application window?
The ISP application launches in mid-to-late October each year, prior to the January start of each session. The link is only available during the “Apply-Now Window”.

Q: How long are applications available for download?
Due to the high interest in the ISP, the application link is only active for about 3.5 weeks, running from early-to-mid October into early-November. The year prior to the January start of each session.

Ex: Applications for winter 2019 will launch in October 2018.

Q: When are applications for the ISP due?
Applications will be accepted through the end of the “Apply-Now-Window”. They are due BY 11:59 pm of the final date posted (minor dates changes each year, so please pay careful attention).

Q: How will I know if my application was received in time?
An electronic email notification will reply to the email from which your application was sent. The mailbox will not accept applications after 11:59pm on the due date. If you are using the Google form, it will be considered received as soon as you finish it and submit the form.

Q: Am I able to edit my application on the Google form?
The Google form may not be saved to future work and we ask that you only click “Submit” once. If you make an error and need to resubmit, Google Forms makes you complete the form from the beginning. Please scroll through the application or print-screen to work on the sections prior to completing and submitting the application.

If you wish to work on a paper copy and then transcribe the application all at once, please download the .pdf version of the file. (A link will be embedded into the Google Form)

You may resubmit an application, but you will have to complete the entire thing, Google Forms does not save the progress. Only one email address will be registered with the Immersion Science Program.

Q: Does the program application require letters of recommendation?
The ISP requires 2 letters of recommendation. These letters serve the reviewers by providing them with a broader scope of each of the applicants. Note: Two are required, with one being from a science/STEM teacher that has known the application at least one year.

Recommendation materials should reach the program office by the end of the application cycle’s close. Letters preceding applications will be used to initiate applicant files. Letters sent directly from recommenders are accepted via email to the program office address: [email protected]

If postal service is used, please allow a few extra days for processing and arrival at the ISP Office. When choosing to apply to the Immersion Science Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center, please request your letters as early as possible to give your recommenders the time needed to complete and submit the materials. Hint: Applications launch in October, but letters can arrive prior to the close of the application cycle. Please do not send more than a month out.

Google doc link can be found here:

General Teacher Recommendadtion Letter [PDF] (Please use the Google Document version if available.)

Q: How many applicants are selected for interviews and is this an automatic acceptance into the ISP?
Between 20 and 25 applicants are interviewed following the selection committee review. The ISP has 16 seats, 8 per section, for each winter session. Only 16 interviewed applicants will be offered seats.

Q: How long does the program run?
The Winter session of the Immersion Science Program begins in early January and run through mid-March. The session is 11 weeks in length, with week 11 serving as the student’s presentation day here at Fox Chase Cancer Center. ALL students are required to attend the full, week-11 event.

Q: How are applicants selected for interviews and chosen to be offered seats in the ISP?
The ISP has in place an NIH (National Institute of Health) -style blind selection process. Our selection committees have been comprised of 17 to 27 scientific and education researchers from various fields at Fox Chase, Temple University, and Drexel University. Several science educators from various, local school districts also take part, but are exempt from reviewing/ interviewing/ voting on applicants from their school/district.

Each submitted application is “blinded” by the ISP team, who do NOT sit on the selection nor do they take part in interviews. ALL designating characteristics are removed (name, school, who helped with the application, family, ethnic/racial backgrounds, etc.). Each blinded application is reviewed by three separate committee members and ranked from 1 (perfect) to 9.

The committee then convenes and discusses all applications in the order of rank. All committee members then submit a score based on the discussion. This new set of scores is again ranked and the top (20 to 25) applicants are contacted to set-up an interview date. Applicants that are invited to interview will meet three more selection committee members, who were not the original reviewers of their application. Post-interview the committee members will submit a brief summary of the interview along with a final score. These interview scores are then ranked one last time and the top 16 applicants are invited to participate in the up-coming Winter ISP session.

Q: What is the time frame for interviews?
Interviews are scheduled for early- to mid-December and conclude prior to a sampling of local high school academic calendar winter breaks.

Q: When are applicants notified if they were accepted to the program?
ALL letters are sent out, via email, prior to December 31st. Not all letters are sent simultaneously.

Q: Is there a waitlist?
Yes. If a student finds that a time conflict has come up and that they are unable to attend the Winter session of the ISP, letters will be sent to the next highest scored applicant(s) to join the committee for interviews.

Q: There are two sections listed in the application. How do I choose?
Select one or the other that best suits your schedule. Select both, ONLY IF you have no scheduling conflicts. Switching between sections is not permitted. Missing one class amounts to missing 3 data-days and results in a participant being unable to complete the program. If applicants select both/either, and are selected, they will be only offered a seat in one section. This selection is made based on applications received, not applicant preference, and is non-transferable.

Q: How is the time line determined (application, interviews, program session)
A sampling of 12 schools was selected to determine the times with least conflict. Schools from Philadelphia, Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, and NJ are used in the sampling of academic calendars.

Q: Do you provide transportation for the program?
At this time we (Fox Chase Cancer Center/Immersion Science Program) are unable to provide transport. FCCC is accessible by both rail line (Fox Chase) and SEPTA- bus, with a short walk to the center.More on directions and parking

Q: What happens if it snows or there are icy conditions?
Snow days and hazardous weather scenarios will be discussed during the first week of the session and information materials regarding this type of condition will be sent to the session participants.

Q: What happens if Pennsylvania is in a state of social distancing?
ISP participants will receive a complete research station to use during at home virtual sessions.

Q: How do I contact the Immersion Science Team?
Please contact us with questions at: [email protected]

Q: How do I stay up-to-date on Immersion Science programs and events?
Please follow us on social media. Facebook is updated with the highest frequency.

The TRiP program is an ISP spin-off program that has adapted primary ISP materials and core principles to increase enthusiasm of students for science. TRiP is not affiliated with the ISP.