In its 10th year, the Iowa STEM Teacher Externships Program reached record-setting enrollment with 74 teachers signed up for immersive six-week experiences. Teachers recently gathered throughout the state to kick off their six-week Iowa STEM Teacher Externship experience with program orientation.
Each summer, this program matches teachers with local businesses that can utilize the teacher’s content expertise. Teachers help businesses tackle projects or issues, while gaining valuable real-world business experience that can be translated into the classroom. Teachers leave the experience more equipped to apply their content knowledge to future opportunities for students.
From the 2017 Iowa STEM Teacher Externship survey, extern hosts cited the following as the most valued outcomes from the experience:
- Elevated awareness of their business in the community.
- Increased interest of the future workforce.
- Establishment of school-business partnerships.
- Workplace relevance brought to the schools.
Teachers were also surveyed and gave the following top reasons for participation:
- Bringing real-world experiences into the classroom.
- Building partnerships with employers.
- Discovery of the “soft skills” students will need to succeed.
Since 2009, nearly 500 externships have been placed in hundreds of businesses throughout Iowa. The program has been partly funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources REAP-CEP, along with critical cost-share investments by Iowa business and industry partners. This year’s contributions from workplace hosts totals approximately $160,000 in addition to the STEM Council’s matching state legislative investment.