Little Shop of Physics Future Teacher Summer Internship

College of Natural Sciences

College of Natural Sciences



Primary Topic:

Youth and Family Development

Other Topics:

No additional topic areas, only my selection from previous question

Lead Mentor:  



Internship Overview:

The Little Shop of Physics Future Teacher Summer Internship program is seeking two undergraduate students interested in becoming a K-12 educator to participate in a 10 week internship program.

Over 10 weeks, the two selected interns will learn to create hands-on science experiments and guided activities that will be showcased at community engagement events in mobile home parks in Fort Collins. They will receive mentorship from a professional teacher with experience in informal and formal science education who can offer guidance on how to best meet grade-specific curricula. The teacher will work closely with interns to develop effective hands-on experiments and the skills needed to present them to diverse groups of K-12 students in various environments. The 4-H extension agent, Toby Swaford, will coordinate events to engage community members in science using the hands-on science experiments developed by the interns under the mentorship of the professional teacher.

Interns are encouraged to leverage their creativity, innovation, and education to make science fun and accessible to groups of students who are not always included in science spaces. We believe that engaging in informal science education provides opportunities to share one’s story and culture through hands-on learning. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging play a critical role in science and science education. We are excited to work with interns who themselves have not always felt represented in science spaces, and encourage applicants with no experience, but passion and curiosity, to apply.

Travel and staffing of the professional teacher will be financially supported by LSOP. Material costs will be split by 4-H Extension and LSOP.

Goals, Scope and Objectives:

By the end of the 10 week internship program, interns will develop hands-on experiments to be kept by the 4-H extension agent and employed in their outreach and engagement efforts across the state of Colorado. These experiments will benefit the agent in that they are effective, engaging, and easy to use. In this way, materials developed by students in this program will impact students far beyond Larimer county and long after the length of the internship.

Interns themselves will acquire a suite of professional skills and exposure to different career paths to launch their careers. They will enhance their own understanding of robust scientific topics and ability to explain complex phenomenon to diverse groups of K-12 students. They will be exposed to a wide breadth of careers in STEM education with mentorship from the Director of the Little Shop of Physics, a professional teacher, and the 4-H extension agent. Additionally, the interns will gain practical maker skills by designing and constructing their own hands-on science experiments and guided activities that are engaging, simple, low cost, and durable. They will have a solid understanding of the differences between formal and informal science education, and how to blend the two to best inspire youth to continue to do science.

With which stakeholder group(s) will the intern work?

The interns will work closely with community members in mobile home parks in Fort Collins, 4-H agents, and the LSOP, balancing the distinct needs of each group to develop effective hands-on experiments that will ultimately support the outreach and engagement efforts of 4-H.

What student learning outcomes do you anticipate and what are the opportunities for professional development?

Interns in this program will constantly be challenged to present complex scientific topics to groups of K-12 students in engaging and effective ways, a challenge even for a seasoned teacher. However, with the consistent support of various mentors, these undergraduates will develop the ability to identify a scientific topic, describe it in its most essential components, and demonstrate the concepts in a hands-on experiment that they themselves devise and develop. This will strengthen their critical thinking skills and ability to innovate with creative solutions to problems such as, how does one explain electromagnetism to a 5 year old? The confidence in their own abilities, experience interacting with students and developing educational materials will be invaluable to undergraduates interested in pursing a career in education. Furthermore, they will exposed to a wide breadth of careers in formal and informal education with a variety of institutions and agencies, giving prospective education students a wider possibility of career paths to aspire to.
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