Sixteen high school students from An Achievable Dream Academy in Newport News, Virginia, experienced a one-of-a-kind internship this summer. Hosted by Virginia Tech’s Biocomplexity Institute, the students spent two weeks on the Blacksburg campus in an intensive program designed to remove obstacles that discourage many first-generation college students from pursuing careers in scientific research.

The students’ jam-packed, hands-on/minds-on itinerary included a full day with faculty and graduate students in the college, where they worked with aerial drones at Kentland Farms, mapped and measured the forest at Stadium Woods, experienced a weather balloon launch with the National Weather Service, and helped record a segment for Virginia Water Radio, among other activities.

“Working with these students was very enjoyable,” said Professor Brian Murphy, who co-led a session on electroshocking fish. “They were always engaged and clamored to get close to the fish we collected. They jumped right in and got their hands dirty in order to learn about the traits and ecology of fish, with no ‘yuck’ factor at all. They asked more questions, and even better ones, than I hear from many groups of college students.”

Read more about the internship in this press release.