STEM Teacher Externs Connect Classroom to Careers, Community

2018 STEM Teacher Externship
Sixth Grade Teacher Carly Sis from Grinnell Middle School spent part of her summer as a STEM Teacher Extern with Jasper County Conservation.

Hundreds of Iowa STEM educators have invested a part of their summers in connecting mathematics, science and technology instruction with the world of work that awaits their students. Since 2009, bridges have been built between schools and workplaces through Iowa STEM Teacher Externships – six-week paid immersions in local businesses and agencies that apply classroom concepts to making and doing things that drive the economy and improve lives. Employers benefit by the talents of on-loan teachers, and teachers return to school in the fall better equipped to inspire and guide learners toward careers in STEM.

Participants report the experience made them more aware of what employers are looking for in new hires and as a result they can better prepare students to compete for jobs. They were better able to incorporate job skills into classwork and connect lessons to authentic applications. They can more readily craft lessons relating to community realities. And, two-thirds of participants over nine years feel that an Externship actually increased their enjoyment of teaching.*   

Applications are now being accepted for summer 2019 at some 150 sites across Iowa, adding more all the time. They range from the major (e.g., John Deere) to the family-owned (e.g., Rosenboom Machine & Tool) and from the areas of Medical (e.g., Allen Hospital, now UnityPoint Health), to Defense (e.g., Iowa National Guard), to Environment (Department of Natural Resources), to Food (e.g., General Mills), to Fuel (e.g., POET Bio Refinery), to Agriculture (e.g., Crooked Gap Farm), to Tech (e.g., Webspec Design) and more, all within a short commute of STEM teacher-participants.  For more information and to apply, visit https://www.iowastem.gov/externships. Direct questions to Externships@IowaSTEM.gov.  

*All results from Iowa State University Research Institute for Studies in Education, “2018 Iowa STEM Teacher Externships Survey Results and Report,” June 2018. Mari Kemis, Director, and Kevin Hemer, Graduate Research Assistant.