Claire Lavoie – Scientific Roots in Europe


Claire Lavoie

STEP Project Reflection

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.My STEP project was a study abroad trip to London and Paris called Scientific Roots in Europe.  Throughout the semester, the class has been studying scientific paradigm shifts (ex: evolution, pasteurization, etc.) that occurred in Europe, specifically in England and France.  Over Spring Break, we traveled to these locations and visited the sites of some of these discoveries, along with other landmarks like cathedrals and famous locations.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.Through this project, I learned a lot about the history of science, which gave me a better understanding of why the state of science is the way it is today. A lot of the scientific wonders that we take advantage of every day actually took years to develop or discover.  For example, medicine today is so successful because of the discovery of micro-organisms.  Without the understanding of “germs,” we wouldn’t know how to cure many of the diseases that affect us and our animals.

    Also, I was able to broaden my worldview by experiencing these amazing cities.  It helped me understand who I am as a person, and how I function in a large city. I also figured out that I really love being in a big city – especially in Europe.  I’ve been to NYC before, and really loved the atmosphere of a large city, but I loved the atmosphere in London and Paris even more.  The architecture is so beautiful, but they incorporate gardens and nature in a way that keeps you connected to the outdoors.  I really would love to live in London at some point in my life.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.The guest speakers in the class provided a lot of the information necessary to transform my ideas about the history and development of science. I feel like when studying science, people don’t get enough of the history, but hearing the stories of these famous scientists and then later seeing their laboratories and homes has really helped me build my understanding of science and the world.

    I had a lot of free time while on this trip, and it provided a great opportunity to develop my independence.  I learned how to navigate the underground and metro systems (which was especially challenging in France due to the language difference).  I couldn’t really rely on my phone for too much help with navigation, so I had to rely on my sense of direction and the maps in the train stations.

    My discovery that I belong in a big city came as a combination of everything that happened on the trip.  Traveling between different places and seeing the buildings and gardens, my interactions with locals, the little shops and pubs, just everything.  I felt a sense of belonging while I was there.

  2. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.These changes are important for my life because they’ve impacted my decisions about what I want to do with my future. I already knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I didn’t know where.  Now I have a better idea of what kind of place I want to live in.  Also, what I’ve learned about the history of science can be implemented into my teaching one day, and I feel like passing this information on to my future students will help them develop more than just teaching them how to do physics.  Maybe it’ll inspire them to study science and make a significant discovery of their own.


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