The first year experience of LIFE STEM was critical in setting the foundation of this brand new program, which would set the tone for our year long inquiry into the health of the Chesapeake Bay across our LIFE STEM classes.
The major aspect of the LIFE STEM first year experience was the Summer Bridge Program, where LIFE STEM scholars took an excursion to Hull Springs Farm in order to investigate the health of the Chesapeake Bay, followed by joining the Honors College scholars for a week of the Honors Retreat, a week full of bonding activities and workshops with the purpose of establishing community early on.
The LIFE STEM Summer Bridge occured in Montross, Virginia at Hull Springs Farm, a donated property where many Longwood students go for research, volunteering, and more. For a week, all of the scholars attended lectures, practice field work, and went on field trips all relating to analyzing the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The scholars collected various samples on boats and on docks to take back to Longwood, where we would study them in our Entering Research I course. Not only were we beginning professional research techniques so early on in our college career, which is practically unheard of, but were were getting to develop relationships with professors before classes even started. This was very comforting during my first semester because I felt like once classes started, the LIFE STEM faculty were looking out for us. Also, all of the scholars were able to bond quickly to each other since we were the first people at college we ever met. With a summer camp-like atmosphere, we were able to establish strong peer relationships and have a memorable yet educational experience.