Summer Externships for Educators
The STEM Action Center, in partnership with the Workforce Development Council, is providing K-12 classroom teachers and college and career advisors the opportunity to extern with local businesses over the summer. This program will place selected externs with companies related to their area of certification and require them to complete 200 hours of on-site, experiential learning. The hours must be completed between June 1, 2022, and August 31, 2022 (days/times to be determined by the teacher and the employer). Externs will earn $5,000.00 and also professional development credit, if they so choose. The goal of the program is to give classroom teachers and college and career counselors the opportunity to expand their skill set so that they can better prepare students for life beyond high school.
“The externship program fills an important link that can help students know what “tomorrow” will look like.” Brian Cronin, Senior Vice President, Strategies 360
“Her time here was very valuable to our team. Maggie did an awesome job with her work and we all learned from her in the process. We have already talked about visiting her classroom this fall!” Justin Bailey, Western States Equipment
“It was a great opportunity for Lainey to see the many diverse jobs in healthcare and get to meet with managers or at least interact with them - all skills and information she can take back to the classroom and share with her students.” Roxanne Ohlund, St. Alphonsus
“I really like the [externship] program; it's the most tangible approach to communicate back to the students what life in an actual company looks like that I have ever seen.” Markus Nigrin, CEO Blocksmith VR
Schedule for Businesses
Scroll down for the interest form.
Open: January 3, 2022
Close: February 11, 2022
Notification: April 1, 2022
Schedule for Educators
Open: January 3, 2022
Close: February 11, 2022
Notification: April 1, 2022
STEM Promo Video: House of Design in Nampa, Idaho discusses their experience with an Idaho Educator Externship
STEM Matters! Craig Peterson interviewed about his Externship with Idaho Forest Group in Northern Idaho
Idaho Business for Education
This summer I have the opportunity to work with Idaho Business for Education in order to help them extend their reach by translating their marketing materials into Spanish. Idaho Business for Education, Youth Apprenticeship Program works to connect youth 16 - 24 years old with companies offering apprenticeships while still in school. These apprenticeships lead to industry certifications as well as permanent employment, giving youth the opportunity to earn while they learn. They have noticed an opportunity to work with more students in the Latino community. My role is to translate their existing marketing materials from English to Spanish.
In my role as a document translator, I am working remotely from home. Each week I have a conference call with my immediate supervisor in order to address any issues I have encountered and to report my progress with the assigned work. I am not a professional translator by profession, I am a middle school STEM teacher. I was approached by Idaho Business for Education, Youth Apprenticeship Program this Spring due to my fluency in the Spanish language. About 20 years ago I lived in Argentina for a few years, and continue to practice my language skills at school, church, and in our community. I had no idea they would lead me to an experience like this.
In order to complete the translation process, I have been using several technological tools to assist me. There are a variety of services that can translate a document between a variety of languages. When working with any particular document, I utilize four different automated translation services. I have not found any one service to be perfect on its own. There are many problems that arise in automated translation, such as too literal wording, punctuation, and capitalization errors. Once an initial translation is generated, I then go through the document line by line in order to improve the flow of the sentiment and look for other, small errors. It is quite tedious work that requires a focus on the details. All of the documents I am working with are accessed through Dropbox, which has an integration with Word for the web.
I have been very impressed with how well the process has been going to complete the translation process by using this combination of online tools. As I have worked through these documents, I have learned more about Idaho Business for Education, Youth Apprenticeship Program, and the tools which they provide to students, educators, and employers in order to connect students with work-based learning opportunities. I hope that the materials produced as a result of this teacher externship will be useful, and will help extend the reach of the Youth Apprenticeship Program in Idaho.
Idaho STEM AC
I have the privilege of being an extern at the STEM Action Center. The STEM Action Center is focused on creating opportunities for educators, students, and families to be involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math activities. As a 5th grade teacher, it has been exciting for me to see some of the behind the scenes that goes into creating these opportunities. One of those opportunities is the i-STEM conference that is offered to educators. I was a facilitator for a small break-out session during this year’s i-STEM virtual conference. It was so amazing to be able to connect with other educators, share ideas, and encourage one another as we work with our students in STEM fields during the school year.
My newest project is related to the i-STEM Library Online Database. This library lists all the equipment, tools, and science kits that are available to check out from six different regional libraries in Idaho. Within the database, I have been assigned to find educator resources to pair with each specific item. I am passionate about delivering high quality lessons to my students, so, I am really enjoying being able to look for lesson plans, videos, and activities that would coincide with the use of the i-STEM library item, to create a robust learning opportunity for educator selection. I am enjoying the opportunity that this externship is providing me within the STEM Action Center.
Workforce Development Center
The training wheels come off. I am Jean Millheim working on projects for the Boise-based Idaho Workforce Development Council (WDC). My mentor, Caty Solace, has helped me to learn so much!
After attending many of the Workforce Development meetings virtually and working intently with the Idaho Launch data*, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I had become an advocate.
In a Zoom meeting (no relation to my Externship), one of the participants shared that they were not able to find or retain younger employees they consider ideal for the growth of their industry. I happened to know from my Externship that Idaho WDC is currently seeking industry partners for the development of registered apprenticeship programs.
This manufacturing and construction business was unaware of these programs.
I reached out to the team at WDC and was immediately introduced to our North Idaho Business Development and Program Manager, Christina Feliciano. She is in charge of registered apprenticeship** programs and happens to be located in the same city as this business’s plant.
I enjoyed a conversation with Christina as the person who would know how to serve this business and also as a valuable new contact for me. She even offered to travel to my school to meet my principal and those of us interested in facilitating apprenticeship programs for our students!
In the meantime, there is an apprenticeship program at NIC that may fit this industry’s needs to a T.
Both parties were eager to meet. The industry HR manager was searching for this type of connection and Idaho Business Development was actively pursuing industry partners. Win-win.
I felt I was cruising for the first time without the training wheels because I connected two people who wanted to dialogue about these opportunities -- to their mutual benefit.
Boise Watershed (City of Boise)
My experience at the Boise WaterShed has been a wonderful experience. Cindy Busche and the Watershed staff have been very friendly and accommodating. I instantly became a part of the team. Cindy introduced me to city employees in STEM fields, so I could get an idea of their career paths. I wanted to focus on careers that didn’t need college degrees so I could let my students know about the many paths to a career. I was given the awesome opportunity to tour the Water Renewal Facility and the Water Quality Lab. Both of these tours were very educational. I was also able to attend teacher workshops with Project Wet, Project Learning Tree, as well as Master Water Stewards. Both of these workshops were engaging and gave me many activities to fit into my fifth grade classroom. While on site I have been able to greet community members and teach several lessons to daycares and school groups. I have learned so much about water renewal and nature. I appreciate and am very grateful for the opportunity to work with the WaterShed staff!
Idaho Public Television
Barbara Morgan STEM Academy
Idaho Public Television Summer Externship 2021
Production shoots, community outreach and Facebook parental post development have been my amazing introduction into world of Idaho Public Television. That voice we all hear on Outdoor Idaho from Bruce Reichert was talking with me on our trip to Buhl to interview Bruce Newcomb former Speaker of the House and Celia Gould the Director of the Department of Agriculture. It was surreal when it's a voice I've listened to on tv for so long and I learned so much about the farming and ranching industry in Idaho that I immediately began to plan a PBL for my 5th graders around the industry. And while I knew IPTV has a lot to offer my students online I definitely did not realize how much outreach they do at community events, for teacher training/support and for families. This month I'll be going to Book & a Bite activities in Caldwell where they set up a booth with other organizations to provide activities to kids in the local park and creating Facebook posts to give families support information and activities to do with their children focused on the month's PBS video selection. It's been a great introduction to IPTV and I look forward to all the learning and events to come.
Warhawk Air Museum
It has been another great summer working in the STEM Action Center externship program. This summer, I am working with the Warhawk Air Museum. In the first three weeks of working with Warhawk I toured the museum, met many veteran volunteers, developed two camp units, and taught three groups of camps, at the museum. I have spent most of my time developing curriculum and materials for a communications camp and forces of flight camp. Each camp teaches students about the topic while utilizing artifacts found in the museum. In the next two weeks left with the program I will develop a third camp for the museum and teach 1-2 camps per week. I have learned so much about the history of the museum, the artifacts, and “the price of freedom”.
Idaho Drone League
I have been working with Dr. Ryu, the founder of the idrone (Idaho Drone League) program. Dr. Ryu has been helping me create drone-based lesson plans and projects that aligns with the high school Earth Science curriculum. For example, I designed a hands-on project in which students design a solution to a real-world, water pollution problem using UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) or drone technology. During this project, students implement the Engineering Design Process in five different steps: 1) Define a Problem, 2) Brainstorm Solutions, 3) Design Solution, 4) Test & Improve, and 5) Share Results. Students are expected to choose a personally relevant problem that includes issues of social and global significance, then compare the potential of different solutions. This involves research skills, creativity, and critical thinking, as I also plan to print or develop the 3D models of students' prototypes.
As I'm developing curricula and researching best practices related to drone education, I intend to integrate this experience with instructional planning for my own classes. With the help of Dr. Ryu, I would like to become a near-expert in drones in order to facilitate hands-on learning for our high school students. My ultimate goal is to test and modify the lessons that I’ve created, so that Dr. Ryu and I can eventually share these resources with other secondary educators who may be interested in implementing drone technology for an improved STEM teaching and learning experience.
It’s been a fun first week! My favorite thing was going out into the field and getting to see how drone technology is used in agriculture. The pieces are starting to come together from what I learned at drone camp at the start of April. Drones can be run on a program out in the field which eliminates human error and is more safe and exact. You can also override a running program to manually lower the height or land if needed. I observed a drone flying over two different fields of crops taking photos at predetermined intervals. When the program is complete, the drone automatically lands and turns off. The batteries don’t last more than 20 minutes and some programs take longer than that to run. When the drone senses a low battery, it automatically returns to the launch spot. After a fresh battery is inserted, the drone will resume the pattern where it left off. During the drone camp, I didn’t understand the role of learning programming if you use commercial software to fly the drone. Now I understand that you need both programmed runs and manual operation in this type of application.
This week, I’m continuing to work on writing curriculum for putting on a drone camp for teachers that includes step by step instructions and lesson plans for running a drone camp. I’ll need to request a grant to fund the camp at my school and will focus on that part next week.
I’ve been reaching out to local business leaders regarding their drone use to find interesting guest speakers who could come to my school and connect learning with real world applications. I had in person interviews with Jim Bolen who owns Play of Light Photographics and Chief Paul Roberts who is in charge of operations for the Boise Fire Department. Both use DJI Mavic drones which are made in China and have agreed to come out to my school next year for a presentation to students.
Here Chief Roberts is showing me the difference between the visual camera and the infrared camera which film simultaneously on their drone. The infrared camera helps them see through the smoke to find hot spots. He said there’s real time emergency value with the footage from the drones as well as using it for training and reconnaissance.
I’ve discovered that there’s an issue with Chinese made drones. In January 2020, David Bernhardt, who is Secretary for the Department of Interior, issued a ban grounding its fleet of Chinese made drones for non-emergency use by federal agencies. The order arose from cybersecurity concerns. When I reached out to BLM in Boise, they told me that due to the ban, they have suspended their drone program for now. I had a phone interview with Mike Spengler of Idaho Power and he said they also had concerns about Chinese made drones and therefore are using drones made by a US company called Skydio. There’s something called the Blue sUAS list which has names of drone makers approved and vetted by the government for safe use in the United States.
According to self-proclaimed “Drone Girl” Sally French, she says the US ban has had little effect on the DJI’s world market share which is still around 70%. To put that in perspective, French says Apple’s iphone (which is so common in the United States) only holds 23.4% share of the world’s smartphone market. You may be wondering how DJI has such a huge presence on the world market. From the drone professionals I’ve interviewed this week, they tell me it’s the price point and ease of use. Jim Bolen told me you can quickly and easily change out the camera when out working in the field. He uses the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Chief Paul Roberts says the fire department has 5 DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise drones and said you can’t beat the ease of use and price. Mike Spengler says that the US is currently the world leader in military drones. He believes that non-military use of drones hasn’t been a priority here but he believes in the future that the US companies will be able to catch up with quality and price of commercially available drones.
Dr. Ryu has recommended that I do further research on privacy issues surrounding drone use as well as finding out more from the Department of Interior about the drone ban.
This week was about coding. I did some coding during the iDrone camp back in April but didn’t feel that I really understood what I was doing at that time. I went back to the online modules from iDrone camp and watched them again. Then I began playing around with the coding in Arduino and Scratch. I wrote a lesson in Arduino modifying what we did at the camp for use at my school using some of the same coding but then adding in time during each task when students will make changes to create their code and implement them to see how the drone responds. At the end, I added group work where students will work in small groups and then present their modifications to the group and explain what they did.
Dr. Ryu wanted me to compare his drone from the workshop with the CoDrone and the Tello. He had purchased a CoDrone Pro and so I put it together and created code in Blockly. The photos below show the drone running the code with the code beside it. Blockly is Robolink’s version of Scratch. The CoDrone had a lot of drift to it even after being calibrated which was a downside. On the upside, I could easily see the appeal to kids with the overall look of the drone, the ease of coding, and the programmable lights. I would just worry about safety with students using these indoors. I would definitely recommend a gym or other large space rather than the classroom with all of its furniture.
I happened to own a Tello drone which I had purchased for my kids last year but hadn’t used much. I wanted to research the programmable side to it. Tello can only be programmed using Scratch. Below is sample code with a photo of the drone running the program which I am controlling with my keyboard. Like Blockly, it’s very easy to use. The Tello does much better at following the commands without drifting and also had gentler landings. I found there’s another model called the Tello EDU which has even greater programming capabilities. Tello stands out when compared to the others for overall performance and lowest price.
On Thursday and Friday of this week, we had the opportunity to work out in the field with the DJI Phantom and Matrice 600 drones. The Phantom was used for taking aerial images while the Matrice was put to work collecting spore samples using a Spornado. The purpose of the Spornado is to detect fungal disease in the air before it adversely impacts the crops. The results helps farmers know when to use pesticides and where they are needed to prevent crop loss. There were static Spornados placed around the field on the ground but the idea is that the samples collected directly over the crops would be more accurate.
While Dr. Ryu flew the Matrice 600, Jerry was taking photos using the Phantom in both NIR (near infrared spectroscopy) and RGB (red green blue images) checking for crop stress. Checkers on the ground went up and down the rows of crops visually looking for signs of crop stress for comparison.
(See Extern Photos for more)
Putting it all together! I finalized my instructions for a student drone workshop and it ended up being 46 pages long. It is based on the drone camp that Dr. Ryu held in April with modifications and additions to it. It includes lesson plans and student handouts that another teacher could easily follow. I have four speakers lined up to hold it at my school and will just need to secure grant funding for the materials. My speakers will be from agriculture, a real estate photography business, the fire department, and the police department (a female drone pilot). I’m also continuing to research and discover what other teachers are doing with regards to using drones in education and plan to work on studying to get my part 107 pilot license. I’d also like to explore other projects in robotics.
Dr. Ryu took myself and one of his former PhD students out to lunch on Wednesday. We went to his favorite restaurant which is Magnificent Garden Korean Barbeque. We all loved the robot who brought us our food! I’ve really enjoyed my time with Dr. Ryu and would love to apply for another externship next summer.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with the OpSys Team at JR Simplot Company (JRS). There are three sub teams in Opsys: Crush, Legos, and Mojo. I work with Crush. These teams develop and manage software to aid all aspects of JRS’ businesses including phosphate mining, fertilizer manufacturing, farming, ranching, food processing, food brands, and other agriculture-related interests.
My manager and mentor has been teaching me and giving me resources to learn how JRS manages their software development life cycle. My academic background in Computer Science gave me the skills to create a program but this work was largely in a vacuum working by myself and submitting for instructor approval. The collaboration of the entire OpSys team members is impressive. They are in constant communication using Microsoft Teams. They assist one another by working in parallel and by also ‘swarming’ when a team member is having difficulty. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing this happen in the chat channels in Teams and developing skills to learn how to contribute myself. One skill I have been learning is how to manage version control of software by learning Git. Git is software for tracking changes in any set of files, usually used for coordinating work among programmers collaboratively developing source code during software development. I have also been teaching myself the language of C# which is the programming language that the majority of JRS software is written in.
Collaborative tools are paramount to the success of a development team. Having students work with one another can be facilitated with 21st century tools and platforms such as Trello or other workflow management software. I will be incorporating these collaborative tools within my classroom and student groups.
I want to learn new skills such as software version control, the language of C#, and expectations of members on a development team. I have gone through version control tutorials online and also used the repository in which my teammates work in to practice those skills. I have gone through lessons of a course in C# and built applications that are now stored in the repositories in which I used version control. I am continually collaborating with my teammates using Microsoft Teams.
This week I was able to come into the office with my team. The JRS COVID protocol for keeping employees socially distanced has rotations on a three week basis. Meeting my team face to face was really nice to put a face to a name/profile that I have seen so active in the Teams chat channels. The main focus of the week was to learn my team’s workflow and Azure DevOps (AzDO). AzDO is a cloud software for the purpose of workflow management. All teams in OpSys have their own backlog of work managed in AzDO. Each large project is given its own “Epic” and within the Epic are features. Features consist of large chunks of the project that can then be broken down further into tasks that individual’s complete, called stories.
Each week there is a meeting within each team where they will either refine or retro/plan sprints they are working on. A sprint is roughly a 3 week cycle of work where team members complete stories. During the retro/plan meetings, members define stories, determine their level of difficulty (based on the fibonacci sequence), and decide who will take the lead and be held accountable for the story. My mentor helped me work an entire story. The purpose of the story we completed was to optimize a web application the team had built. We did this by enabling the http2 protocol for their tecsys function apps.
I am able to work alongside an intern from Boise State University and our mentor has given us the opportunity to tackle our own project. We are currently researching how to design, build, and deploy a chat bot in Microsoft Teams for the purpose of searching Opsys specific information. Ultimately, the bot will be handed over to the team to pick up where I left off so functionality will continue to be added.
I was introduced to the concept of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). This is a goal in which you set out to accomplish that you may not know how to accomplish. You learn things along the way and are allowed to make mistakes. I like this concept for my class because it allows students to understand that failure is a part of the learning process. Project based learning is ideal for a BHAG due to all of the iterations of a project from start to finish. The process is just as important as the end result.
J.R Simplot had a recipe for success: grab opportunity in even the most challenging environments, look at well-known problems for solutions that no one has thought of before, and work harder than anyone else. I want to instill this vision in my students by having them ask the question ‘what if’. What if they had all the programming skills in the world, what problem would they solve? Start with a BHAG, pursue it, and learn more than what one person can teach you or that they ever thought possible.
This weeks focus was to get a proof of concept for the chat bot the BSU intern and I are working on. We met with our manager to talk about features he would like to have implemented. The goal is to have the chatbot be an assistant to the OpSys teams to fetch useful information and push important notifications. The name of the chat bot is called Opsy. Ideally the bot would be able to query the teams Wiki articles, implement web hooks, and act as a digital assistant. This week I was able to get a basic weather bot working where I could ask the bot what the weather was in any city and retrieve an answer.
The big takeaway from this week was documentation. A lot of the work I am doing is working with application program interfaces (API’s) which are basically large repositories of prewritten code. This code can be used as a foundation for custom work but one needs to understand it first. We use API’s in my classes as well but I want to be able to structure student research better. Students need to document their own research so they can refer back to it. Our team relies heavily on documentation for in house projects that also reference API’s. When one team member does research on a project, that research is documented so all team members can be on the same page.
From donating products to helping feed people in need, to contributing thousands of volunteer hours at local events, Simplot and its employees are proud to support ongoing efforts that make our communities better places to live for everyone. I can build a bridge with Simplot by inviting guest speakers to come to my school, organize a field trip, and the J.R. Simplot Foundation allows for grant proposal requests.
This week was a continuation of creating a proof of concept chat bot. Building off of the weatherbot I got working last week I experimented with LUIS technology which stands for Language Understanding. LUIS is a cloud-based conversational AI service that applies custom machine-learning intelligence to a user's conversational, natural language text to predict overall meaning, and pull out relevant, detailed information. Another chat bot I was able to get some headway on was a QnA bot. This bot is similar to LUIS however I used the Crush teams wiki to make a knowledge base of useful information. When the bot was asked a question that it recognized from the wiki, relevant information regarding that topic was sent back to the user.
Hi there, friends! I’m Bri Barber, an elementary school teacher in the Coeur d’ Alene School district. I have just finished up my first year of teaching, and have been lucky enough to spend several weeks of my summer externing at Gizmo-CDA. Gizmo is a nonprofit community maker’s space that connects all people- young to old, artists to scientists, and beyond to state of the art tools, equipment, and opportunities to create and connect.
My time at Gizmo-CDA has been a magical experience filled with deep learning, connection, and reflection. My primary mission here has been to plan and facilitate various Summer Institutes that aim to empower educators and children through doing. Our focus is to equip learners of all ages with the “maker mindset” and the understanding that STEM and creating are for everyone. We are all learners and teachers alike at Gizmo, and are encouraged to say “Hey I’m brand new to this, let me try my best to learn something incredible!”
Some of the projects I have been (and will be) a part of this summer at Gizmo are: an all girls STEM Trailer Build, planning and facilitating Empowering through Doing professional development, planning a class with the Executive Director, as well as assisting with a Climate Science through Game Based Learning Institute.
Beyond planning and facilitation- I have observed and connected with a plethora of experts and learners who model incredible thinking strategies and creativity. Each day that I walk into Gizmo I am reminded of the importance of community access to making and connection. I am continually inspired by the willingness of all members and guests to try something new, and expand skills that help to make our area a better place.
I am so thankful to spend time and earn experiences here at Gizmo. Their mission to bring learning into the community through depth of thinking and providing opportunities is a need unmet by anyone else. The goal? Empower all people through doing and let me tell you, I have felt so empowered this summer!
Hello, I’m Jared Young, a 9-12 grade teacher at Wallace Jr/Sr High school. This summer I am working with Gravis Tech, a data analytics, data visualization and technical communications business in Wallace, ID. As a business and technology teacher I am truly excited to be a part of a tech company in my own home town.
So far the experience has been going well - I was given tasks to complete and have been working on The Theodores project. The Theodores is a grassroots wilderness trash clean up advocacy group that is looking to get people involved in cleaning up their community and nature's wilderness. So far I have been working on mocking up apps for a phone, and gathering ways to market the idea of “Doing a Teddy'' and building his site and brand. Programming I've learned so far has already given me an idea for class use with the app mockup software called Balsamiq.
I have also been immersed in the communication culture of a technology business using things like RocketChat to communicate and learning how they interact in a real life business. Great information that I can share with students looking to go into this field. I can give insight on how day to day life would be like and what freedom a technology company has. I have sat through morning meetings to see how they communicate tasks and how work gets done. So far the experience has given me ideas of how to examine companies online and how to build up a business, which can be great for my Entrepreneurship class.
International Refugee Committee
This summer I have been working with the International Refugee Committee (IRC) in Boise for my externship. In this position I help people that have newly arrived in Boise as refugees that are in need of digital literacy skills. This includes helping individuals and families learn how to use email, voicemail, zoom, cell phones, and laptops. I also help set up cell phones. Though people arrive to Idaho with varying levels of digital and other skills, through my work with the IRC, I have seen firsthand the need to offer services that help develop basic digital literacy skills. For example, learning how to use a cell phone is a lifeline for our refugees as they acclimate to a new culture, begin the process of finding a job, and learn to navigate a new city.
One of the many barriers to accessing technology is language. Just as people have varying levels of digital skills, some people come to Idaho speaking perfect English while others are just starting to learn it here. Since refugee families speak a wide variety of languages – from Ukrainian to Spanish to Kinyarwanda – we have a great need to work with interpreters for families who are still learning English. I have gained a new appreciation for apps such a Google Translate, which are powerful tools that facilitate learning for our clients. Using these applications will be a valuable asset to me as I interact with parents and students from a wide variety of cultures in my classroom. I appreciate the opportunity to work with the Boise IRC and learn more about the impact of digital literacy in our communities.
Triple B Excavation
My externship was through Triple B Excavation in Potlatch, Idaho. My job description, simply put, a machine operator. I ran an excavator with an attachment designed to cut and chew up small trees and brush. My job was to clear all the brush and trees that were impeding the roadway. I was given a digital map with an outline of all the roads that needed to be brushed and it was my job to restore these roads. This job entailed learning different tree species, learning which trees are sick and dying, learning some basic road construction and maintenance, learning fire prevention practices, learning machine maintenance and operation, learning about forest health, and overall, learning what it takes to revitalize old roads. It is cool to see the before and after images of the roads I completed. It gave me a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with my work! This externship was a great learning experience and I can’t wait to share what I learned with my students.
Idaho Central Credit Union
I have really enjoyed my time so far at Idaho Central Credit Union! I am working at the main building you see right off the interstate in Chubbuck. I have the opportunity of working with the video production team. When I tell people I'm working with a credit union they usually assume I'm a teller. There is so much more behind the scenes that goes on that most people don't know about! When I think of STEM fields a credit union is not the first place that comes to mind but I have learned so much about technology while here!
I don't have any prior experience with video production so this was all new to me! In my first month here I have been able to set up and run the lights for a video interview with the CEO, learn how to set up and run a teleprompter during shoots, and watch the editing process after video clips are filmed. I was even able to do my own voice over! This knowledge will be beneficial to me and my school as I can take this back to help implement some of these techniques with our daily morning announcements. It has also given me perspective on all the possibilities available working at a credit union which will help me when working with students for college and career counseling. The team here is awesome and it is such a positive, fun, upbeat work environment I would recommend to anyone. I am excited to continue learning here for the second half of my externship!
Today is my last day at ICCU. I have really enjoyed my time here and am sad to go! I learned lots of new things in my last month. I learned how to make Kahoots! and I plan to continue to create them at school for staff and students throughout the year. I learned about coding and making websites which was really fascinating and I think that will help me in the future when discussing job opportunities with students. I was also able to help on a project where we are moving credit union videos over to a more secure location. An idea that I read in another extern's blog post was to interview co-workers to gather information on different job opportunities, things they like about their job, advice, etc. I was able to do this towards the end of my time and it's going to be very beneficial for the college and career side of my job when helping students identify different opportunities. Being a part of the "Green Team" at ICCU was an awesome experience!
Idaho State Department of Education
As an experienced school counselor and newcomer to the state of Idaho, I am thrilled to be a part of our project to research career development opportunities for our students around the state. In the past several years, our country has created a college going culture that does not always fit our students career development needs. We are fortunate to have many resources around the state to help support our students in exploring their career interests, and it can be a challenge to navigate the myriad of opportunities. Jeralyn Mire, my extern partner and colleague at Sandpoint High School, was in contact with IBE and GearUp and we agreed to create a professional development session for other school counselors and educators from around the state on what programs exist to support students in exploring a variety of career focused pathways. We have been learning from so many partners from GearUp to CTE to Forging Futures and many more! We look forward to sharing the information we gather with others so we may all support our students in pursuing their postsecondary goals.
There is excitement in Idaho about developing the future workforce. Incredible ideas, opportunities and enthusiastic responses are popping up all over the state. Since I have been a post-secondary transition counselor in North Idaho for the past 10 years, I have been lucky enough to learn about so many of these great programs. My colleague, Tavi and I wanted to help create a presentation to share with all stakeholders in the state about these cool ideas and programs. This seemed like a reasonable task and doable, but what we are learning is that it is actually in the infancy stage and we might be a little ahead of our time. One group described it this way: “We know where the stadium is and we know what game we want to play. We are just starting to draft the players now.” This was a great analogy and even though this has been a little more challenging than first expected it is necessary in our great state and will be vital as we continue this work. On a personal note we are learning a great deal and all of the groups have been very excited about having the information in one place.
Franklin Building Supply
For my externship I am at the corporate office of Franklin Building Supply (FBS), within their Human Resource (HR) department. I have a newfound appreciation for HR departments in general and what they do. They are the pumping heart of any business as they set policies, find new hires and assist with formulating procedures for a business. The small three member HR department for FBS is an amazing group of people that I have had a pleasure to work with. The HR staff and others within the corporate office is responsible for hundreds of employees within 17 locations around Idaho and a location in Elko, Nevada. It is easy to see why they are in the top 10 businesses to work for in Idaho.
I am an instructor of adult students, many of which desire to return to the blue-collar career fields that they previously had within construction. With this externship opportunity, FBS has reminded me of the essential “soft skills” that are needed to be a desired employee.
With the emphasis on soft skills and resume building, I can provide students with greater insight and direction of how they can achieve their career desires in this competitive world.
G Zero CNC Machine
I am nearing the halfway point in my externship at G Zero CNC Machining. I have never been in a machine shop before and I like it. The place is humming with productivity with everyone working diligently to make parts for various things. Anything from a small hinge, to firearm parts, to parts currently on Mars for NASA, G Zero can make just about anything. I have spent my time working with machinists to make a few parts and they even let me "get my hands dirty" running a couple parts. (Even though the process is fairly clean and machinists don't get too dirty) I included pictures of some of the parts I have made. I have also seen the inspection room and have seen all the technology used in verifying parts are made to the correct specifications.
My extern supervisor stresses the importance of machining and he desires to inform students about this career path. Keys to this type of work are good math skills as machinists are constantly calculating and converting measurements. Good 3 dimensional geometry skills are important as well as they create parts from printed plans. Lastly, attention to detail is critical as you may have an order of 800 parts that all have to be made exactly the same.
I am looking forward to the rest of my externship. Making parts is great, but I'm excited to experience the programmer role. This is where technology integrates into the machine shop. And as a technology teacher it interests me the most.
Idaho Board of Education
Next Steps Idaho
I have had an incredible experience so far working at the Idaho State Board of Education with the outreach team on Next Steps Idaho. Next Steps Idaho is a statewide initiative that prepares students for life after high school and illuminates career pathways. I have had the opportunity to update Next Steps Idaho's entire library of curriculum to match its robust, grade-specific learning plan activities. I have completed over 30 powerpoints, lesson plans, and handouts that are now just waiting for one last review. It has been such a neat experience to gain knowledge and teaching strategies from updating these lesson plans created by counselors and teachers around Idaho. My elementary background does not lead to a lot of experience helping students explore and stay on track for their life after high school other than a few introductory lessons to STEM careers. I am amazed at the quality and scope of resources that Next Steps Idaho offers educators in Idaho to help students explore their future. I will definitely be using their tools with my middle school students going forward. The full curriculum library launches soon and it will be an amazing resource for educators in Idaho!
Next Steps Idaho
I wrapped up my externship this week with the Idaho State Board of Education outreach team. I feel extremely accomplished in contributing and streamlining this first iteration of the Next Steps Idaho Curriculum Library. My final week I worked on a variety of projects. I gained a lot of insight on all of the behind-the-scenes work that it takes to launch new features on the Next Steps Idaho website, and the amount of teamwork and communication that has to happen in doing so. I was able to drop in on some extra meetings and obtained a broader picture of the projects and goals the outreach team is pursuing. I am really excited to see the Next Steps Idaho’s new login system work and look forward to being able to utilize it next year with my students. I am envious of the tools and resources that are available for students to plan for their futures. It was a fast few weeks of work, but rewarding for my “love of learning” soul. It is amazing to see all of the 21st century skills in action.
Bay Shore Systems
My name is Michelle McCullough, and I am a high school math teacher for Idaho Virtual Academy. I was hired as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) extern through the state, and am excited to be partnered with Bay Shore Systems to complete my externship. One of my goals for the summer is to interview as many Bayshore employees as possible. These interviews will be used to share STEM opportunities with students at IDVA and hopefully across the state. We want to get students excited and motivated to work hard in STEM classes early in their high school careers.
Wow! What a busy week so far… I’ve been working from home since May 2019. Getting up, getting dressed, and getting to work on time is something I almost forgot how to do. My first few days have been a whirlwind. I s
tarted my relationship with Bayshore by attending the employee party the weekend before I started my externship. It was a very kind invitation and we had such a good time at the party! We were able to meet and chat with many employees of the company who absolutely love their jobs and the company they work for. This made me even more excited to come to work on Monday.
During my first days, I attended safety orientation and a full facility tour. The company designs and builds drilling rigs from the ground up. They have many departments which all have very specific jobs… sales, engineering and design, cutting out parts, welding, painting, assembly, hydraulics, electrical, equipment testing, and more! I attended an administration meeting so I could meet the team again. I joined the book club to study the book The Great Game of Business. I attended the admin and the staff huddle to talk about the budget with the entire company. I started preparing for the interviews that I will conduct over the course of the summer. I am so excited about this opportunity… More to come 😊
On Wednesday morning, I attended the group huddle where the entire company discussed the budget and numbers. I was able to introduce myself and talk about the STEM employee interviews I would be completing while at Bay Shore. I attended the GGOB book study over lunch, and that afternoon I worked to finalize the pre-interview questions and interview candidates with the company culture team.
On Thursday, I conducted my first pre-interview and built the slide deck to be used as a template for each of the interviews conducted. I met with IT to start planning the GGOB minigame we would be creating and talked about the contact updates and consolidation project we would be starting.
On Friday, I completed the first draft of: the file structure minigame, the minigame scorecard, the file structure job aid, and the file structure intro for admin. I met with IT to discuss these first drafts and how we can improve. To end the day, I met with IT to discuss the contact updates and consolidation project we would be starting on Monday. I now have specific instructions and will be able to work independently on this project until it is completed.
One of my favorite things this week has been the comradery with the employees of Bay Shore. They have gone above and beyond to make me feel welcome, teach me their ways and answer my ENDLESS questions. More to come… 😊
One picture is of me in front of the Bay Shore sign. The second is the IT coordinator who is managing my current projects!
Children's Museum of Idaho
Working at the Children's Museum of Idaho is a work experience I will never forget. Though this museum has only been open a few years, it is making a meaningful impact on the children and families who visit. As I am walking around and planning activities, I often hear the other employees say the phrase “learning through play”. This is one of the goals of the museum. Kids are playing and interacting with different hands-on exhibits and are expanding their minds through it. They are experiencing a spaceship with interacting buttons and learning about space while they are there. There is a farm area where kids and families can learn about different animals, watch eggs hatch, and milk a fake cow. Other exhibits are designed for kids to build and create. All the different exhibits have a different learning experience intended and are totally hands-on.
Though I have only been here a few weeks, I have been able to jump right in and help plan STEM activities, book projects, and more. I am very excited to bring what I have learned about learning back to my classroom next year. This is a great externship and I'm excited to continue to help kids learn through play.
As my summer at the Children’s Museum of Idaho comes to an end, I am sad to leave this place. It is a great place for kids to explore and learn using their imagination. It is full of hands-on activities and exhibits for kids and their families to learn through play together and have fun. I have learned so much from working here about the importance of being engaged in learning and am excited to bring back what I have learned to my classroom and other teachers.
During this externship I have been able to support the museum by writing plans for their daily Story and Project times, plan and implement STEM crafts and activities, help bring hands-on STEM activities to other areas of the Valley with the Museum On the Move Program, and plan other hands-on crafts and activities for the visitors to experience. I have truly enjoyed my time here and would highly recommend visiting with your young kids.
Idaho Veterans Chamber of Commerce
Hello, I’m Leigh Wilson, a 4th grade teacher in Potlatch. I am excited to work this summer with the Idaho Veteran’s Chamber of Commerce! As a prior military spouse, I can relate to a service member’s challenge when transitioning out of the military and re-entering the civilian workforce. The Veteran’s Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit group that bridges the gap between the civilian world and the military world offering a host of services to military members and their families as they transition out of the military.
This first week I’ve been learning the ropes, so to speak, and getting familiar with all of the services the Chamber offers. My externship will be focused on Project Management, specifically in building a Navigation Model for members to use in requesting services, working with the Employment Specialist to help link up job seekers with employment opportunities, creating job descriptions for a Community Outreach Director and a Navigation Specialist (both positions that the Chamber will be hiring for this fall) and then I will begin working with clients on the job search end of things. I am excited to help job seekers tailor resumes, brush up on interviewing skills, and network with employers here in Idaho.
This first week has reacquainted me with the process of the job search and employment in the business world - both things that will help me in the classroom as I help even young students build up the skills necessary to be a successful employee in the future.
Department of Labor
I’m off to a great start with my externship. My first week I got set up with an email address, cubicle and got a tour of the building. I’ve been able to sit in on meetings, meet the team and learn about different projects happening at the Department of Labor.
My assignment for the summer is to create an eight-part mentor training system for Apprenticeship Idaho. So far, I've spent a lot of time doing research on different training tools. I've looked at different LMS platforms to host the training modules. I’ve also been finding training videos that meet our needs to build curriculum and assessments for the training system.
Idaho Business for the Outdoors
Hi there! I’m Elizabeth Keith - a 6th grade math teacher in Caldwell. This summer I have been externing with Idaho Business for the Outdoors. IBO is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a “non-partisan business voice in support of the investments, jobs, innovations, revenues and wellness benefits sustained through the preservation of Idaho’s outdoors and public lands.” I’ve been working on promoting a student water quality testing project. The project will fund students from the Treasure Valley to go to different sections of the Boise River and conduct nine different tests measuring water quality. The idea is to have the same group of students come multiple times throughout the year, so they are able to track the fluctuations in water quality based on the season. Students from Borah High School’s biology classes will be piloting the program this fall.
Over the course of my work with IBO, I have learned a lot about the benefits of outdoor education programs for kids. They have been shown to improve test scores, reduce truancy rates, promote social and emotional learning, and increase student efficacy in the classroom. I have also learned how to write grants, which is a skill I hope to use in the future for projects within my school. I hope to continue working with Idaho Business for the Outdoors in the fall by attending their river cleanup workdays.
Woohoo! I’m in my third week of the Externship, and I feel like I have done enough now to really be able to reflect on the experience. The first two weeks were a lot of experimenting, getting oriented, and trying to solidify the direction that we wanted my project to go. I have split my time between working in the office and at home (see picture with my trusty work-from-home partner), most of the Workforce Development team at Saint Alphonsus is still working solely from home!
Ultimately, for my Externship, I am making several spreadsheets that organize ALL of the jobs/career paths that exist within Saint Alphonsus and adding in job descriptions, minimum education requirements, and preferred qualifications. While there are smaller and varying versions of things that are similar to this within Saint Alphonsus, there currently isn’t a public facing document that communicates this information to job-seekers or students.
Once those spreadsheets are finished, I will make several interactive presentations/documents (using Canva!) so that jobseekers can more easily search for jobs that they qualify for, they are interested in, and positions they could grow into with further education, experience, and qualification. I dabbled in Prezi, Sway, and Canva as the major platform before we decided which one would suit the project best. I also made a variety of formats for the spreadsheets before we were able to decide which one would be the most conducive to our overall goal.
I am SO excited to be helping with a project that I can see so many amazing applications for. Students, job seekers, and employers alike need tools like this to make the often-overwhelming job search seem a little less daunting. If I am successful in my “mission,” these documents should be easy to edit and adjust by the Talent Acquisition and Recruiting Team at Saint Alphonsus as the job descriptions or requirements change (after I finish my externship). Big picture, I think this is a model that other large companies, corporations, and work forces could use to organize their career ladders for jobseekers. I feel so lucky to work with an amazing, massive, influential local business and all of the leaders/individuals within it!
I can’t believe the last day of the Externship experience for me has already come. I can honestly say the hours have flown by. I am so excited to take the knowledge and experience that I have gained back with me to my students this fall (despite being bummed to see summer come to an end!). My last few weeks of the Externship have been all about the grind. I really wanted to complete the project (as holistically as possible) before my hours were up, so I tried to be as efficient as I could once I figured out the best system. As I am leaving my placement with Saint Alphonsus, I am happy to say that I did complete what I hoped to!
My project became multi-faceted as I worked, and what I ended up with will hopefully be a useful tool for jobseekers, the talent acquisition team, other hiring professionals, and even career coaches and managers alike. Once I became well versed in Canva (an online platform), I created two main presentations (Clinical Careers and Non-Clinical Careers) with many branches on each (categories of jobs). These presentations were the best tool to display the required (and preferred) levels of education and experience for every job that exists at Saint Alphonsus. Ultimately, the goal being that anyone who already works for or is interested in working for Saint Alphonsus could access this information and determine not only what careers they already qualify for, but where they could go as they further their education, experience, and certifications.
In my final days, I created live links to career maps (that I also constructed using Canva) so that there were visual pathways for viewers within different job categories. These career maps will guide them through example paths leading from a High School Diploma to a Master’s or Doctorate Degree (in their area of interest).
I feel so fortunate for the ways in which this Externship opened my eyes to not only new skills to take back to my classroom, but to the world of careers that exist within a large Healthcare Organization like Saint Alphonsus. I can’t wait to show and encourage my students to explore how their unique skill sets (even those that are not math/science) related, can be applied and utilized in a STEM based workplace. I find that such a big part of my role as a middle school teacher is to help students see their potential both in, and out of the classroom and I think the knowledge I gained in this Externship is one more tool in my toolbelt to help me do so.
I am grateful and satisfied with the opportunity to learn in this environment and can’t wait to see how this project grows now that my time is up!
Idaho STEM Action Center 2021 Externship Partners
2020 Externship Archives
2020 Externship Webinar
Idaho STEM AC
Because of COVID-19, my experience as an extern has looked a little different. The majority of my externship with the STEM Action Center has been working from home. But, thanks to technology, it hasn’t prevented me from feeling welcomed and a part of the team.
The first half of my externship was spent learning about the STEM Action Center, working with the team on video scripts and helping with office work and data input. I was able to start making contacts with fellow externs and businesses to produce a promotional video.
I’ve been able to get a small glimpse of the broad array of amazing STEM related businesses Idaho has to offer. Each business that I’ve interviewed has been very welcoming and kind. I’ve felt a strong sense of community between businesses and teachers wanting to work together to provide a better future for our students.
My two favorite tasks from this summer were both filming related. I was able to get out of the house and take a tour of House of Design in Nampa. I had no idea that there was a company that made life size robotics in the same town where I teach! I can’t wait to tell my students about House of Design and the neat things the produce, and hopefully one day take them on a tour.
My other favorite moment from this summer was taking a trip up to Idaho City to work with Channel 2 to produce a video. We were able to film three interviews and meet with some awesome teachers and students. I loved hearing what other schools are doing with the help of the STEM Action Center. The student told us about his favorite STEM lesson from the past year, which was a Rube Goldberg project. And the teachers lit up talking about the students’ excitement working in their Maker Lab.
The last portion of my externship was spent working with the grant team. I’ve been doing research to help the team prepare a grant proposal and I continued work with data entry. I'm amazed to see the amount of work that’s being put into their grant writing process. I have a greater respect for the behind the scenes hard work that goes on with the STEM Action Center.
Overall, this externship has been memorable. I’ve learned a lot about what our community has to offer. I’ve seen passionate businesses and teachers with the same drive to make our state better for our students. I can’t wait to get back into the classroom and share what I’ve learned with my students and coworkers.
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
Week 2 on my Summer Externship with Workforce Development at the Idaho National Lab has me realizing that information on STEM Education is not lacking, it is downright overwhelming. The endless amounts of online resources that are available to parents, students and educators can bury a person in days of searching, sorting and exploring. I know as I seem to have fallen down a rabbit hole filled with STEM information, activities, events and lesson plans galore.
Thanks to COVID- 19 and the challenges of social distancing, my summer externship is lacking one of the things I was most looking forward to with this experience; getting out of the house, out of the school and back into the working world outside of public education. Instead of getting out of the house to network, learn new things and make real world connections to help my students, I am doing it at home. Distance learning and social distancing are still real possibilities for next fall. I find that my experience might be even more valuable than I had thought. I am learning to utilize new technology that facilitates collaborating as a team when not in the same location. Not only will this be valuable for next fall if we continue to work remotely at times, I feel like I will continue to utilize similar technology in order to collaborate with College and Career Advisers from different schools and districts on larger projects.
I think the best part of the experience so far is the work I have been assigned to do - Make a Toolkit for College and Career Advisers! The opportunity to utilize the resources available with Workforce Development at the INL, to create a toolkit that will help me and other College and Career Advisers to direct our students towards meaningful careers after high school, has me truly excited. I never imagined that my assignment would be tied so closely to my job. I mean do you create an interactive Career Survey that helps students identify high demand careers available locally? Or a master list of the resources available to expose students and teachers to STEM in our community? Or create a Quick List of things to know and do for New College and Career Advisers? Maybe you get a great team and you do all three. I am excited to see how this Externship ends up. Yeah, I didn’t get to leave my house and interact with adults, face to face in the business world, but the view from my desk has its perks too.
How did I not already know this stuff?
Halfway through my externship with Workforce Development at the Idaho National Laboratory and I am getting over the challenges of working from home and realizing that sometimes we need to do things differently to get better at our jobs. My current project is making “Career Spotlights” for CTE jobs at the INL that have positive job outlooks. These careers require a High School Diploma, but training and education may be required to obtain higher-paying, more desirable positions.
I am excited to be working on these tools, and I am even more excited to have these tools when I help students plan and prepare for life after high school. I have always felt that my current “toolkit” lacked the tools needed to advise students who wanted to go straight into the workforce. I could talk resumes, advise they obtain part-time employment, mention CTE classes available at my high school, but I could not provide them with a clear path of how to obtain employment that would support them in adulthood. Time and time again, I would run into a previous student working in a local fast-food restaurant or at a local retail store. When students engaged in conversation, they usually explained that it was one of their multiple jobs, and they were currently trying to save money to go to school, or they were still trying to figure out what they wanted to study. I could not help but feel like I had failed these students.
Taking a Gap year or working while you are figuring out what you want to do is not a bad thing. But working the same low wage jobs that they were working while in high school makes me wonder how the experience is helping them decide what they want to study or helping them to save money. What if I had identified those students earlier and said: “Great you want to join the workforce, here are ten job categories that have high demand in our area lets see if any of them interest you.” And just like my students that are planning on attending a University, I give career-bound students an action plan, with a To-Do Checklist. College-bound students will write scholarship essays, and career-bound students will customize resumes to local job postings. Instead of joining clubs to increase their opportunity for admission into a university program or to be awarded a scholarship, career-bound students will gain the specific skills needed to obtain the desired job. Instead of providing them email contacts to local University recruiters and helping them to visit college campuses, I link them to professional organizations and local industry leaders looking to hire entry-level workers. You may be asking why I was not already doing these things; I am a College and Career Adviser. Career is in my job title. Here is my excuse/reason/explanation: I did not even know where to start. The workforce is huge; jobs vary so much. I lacked the experience required, or the connections needed to advise students appropriately on being career-ready. At the end of the school year when I have to report my numbers to the state, every student who did not apply to college or complete a FAFSA counts against me on my annual reports. I wonder how much time I wasted encouraging a student to complete these forms when the time could have spent differently? It is not that I did not try to assist them, we had conversations, we looked up information together, I referred them to job search engines and sent them on their way, without a map to make sure that they remembered all the steps.
This externship has provided me with tools to advise students on how to prepare for high demand and higher-paying jobs in our area. I can hand them a clear map with specific steps they can do to prepare for the chosen career. I am excited and motivated to make more of these “Career Spotlights.” I hope that the INL will allow the use of the template created during this Externship to generate more “Career Spotlights” to address careers in demand throughout the region. I hope that I can do more to make connections with employers who would be willing to talk to students and share with them the opportunities available with their company. I hope companies could utilize the template to highlight the jobs they need to fill, so I have even more choices to present to my students. I am hoping to encourage my district and surrounding school districts to make the contact information easier to find for their College and Career Advisers so that industries know who to reach out to with career information. I am grateful for this opportunity to work with the INL Educational Outreach program and to create tools to help students prepare for careers. Hopefully, in 5 years my previous students can be the ones coming to the school to talk to students about how to be career-ready, and I can thank this externship experience for that.
As I imagine is the case for many of my colleagues in education or advising, I often have conversations with my students about the importance of having a growth mindset and the (incredibly cool) concept of neuroplasticity. When I applied for the externship program back in January, I saw it as a great opportunity to “practice what I preach” in terms of growth mindset--challenging myself to step outside of the known and the comfortable in the pursuit of new learning and growth. Little did I know Covid-19 would soon be providing the ultimate test of flexibility, creativity, and adaptability—a societal “pop quiz” on growth mindset delivered via route of global pandemic.
As I am approaching the end of week two of my externship at Idaho National Laboratory, I find myself drawing many parallels between my experience and the experiences of our students in adjusting to a whole new way of learning, communicating, and connecting. While there have been moments of discomfort and uncertainty, I can say without reservations that the struggles have been productive.
INL has provided a fantastic model for adapting to a remote and/or a blended working environment while still maintaining critical operations and progress towards the laboratory missions. My mind is reeling with all the new learning I have participated in over the past two weeks and the numerous ways that learning can be translated back to my students and colleagues. I am excited to also have the opportunity to play a small role in providing support to a larger audience outside of my school through the development and delivery of resources our extern team is working on this summer. This has already been an invaluable opportunity to glean shared wisdom from a diverse network of stakeholders, within INL and the larger community, that all share a common vision to provide students with engaging and relevant education experiences that ultimately lead to fulfilling careers in high-demand fields. I am pleased to see the progress happening in STEM education and the rich opportunities made possible through closer partnership and alignment between industry and education. The extensive and ongoing support and outreach provided by INL’s K-12 Education program alone is impressive— to say nothing of the incredible research and development taking place within the larger directorates. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to the weeks to come.
As I write this, I am wrapping up my final week as a STEM extern for Idaho National Laboratory, and I am struggling to put into words precisely how the experience has changed my way of thinking about STEM learning and education in general. The public education system was instituted with the goal of providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be “contributing members” of an informed and prosperous society. I would argue that while that founding goal is still relevant, the educational processes to produce the desired outcome (contributing members of society) have grown increasingly complex in our modern world. As educators (and counselors/college and career advisors), we should be able to say with confidence that the instruction and experiences we provide are, in fact, equipping students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in their personal and professional futures. A STEM education framework provides the vehicle to do so in an authentic and engaging way. (The dreaded question of “When am I ever going to use this is real life?” becomes void when content is delivered in a manner that provides the context and real-life application organically!) I see STEM as a means to inspire and motivate apathetic students, increase equity and access, challenge and engage advanced learners, and promote development of 21st century learning skills for all. Within my role as a school counselor, I am excited about the opportunity to integrate career and educational planning and address social/emotional skills within STEM content—which, with a deeper understanding of the holistic philosophy and practices of a true STEM education framework, I am finding is not a stretch in the least. Had you asked me prior to this externship why it is important to promote STEM learning, I think I could have made a pretty good case. If you were to ask me now, well you might need to clear your calendar…
The amount of information we as College and Career Advisors could obtain as we work to help students prepare for their futures can be overwhelming. During the school year the frenetic pace of the work does not leave much time for researching the multiple opportunities and possibilities for students to pursue. Thus, when I applied for an externship possibility with the Idaho STEM Action Center, my hope was that this would give me the chance to research and learn more about career pathways, especially in those subject areas that I see a great need for in our community and beyond – CTE and STEM.
Imagine my delight when given the opportunity to extern with the Idaho National Lab – not only a tremendous economic resource to our community, but an absolute critical player in our nation’s nuclear research and energy security. Plus, they are invested in STEM education for students of all ages, so much so that they have a team of educators dedicated to the task of promoting and proving STEM education to the K-12 level. I get to be a part of that team this summer!
The only constant in our lives right now seems to be the COVID-19 pandemic. The worsening of the pandemic in our state and communities can feel a bit discouraging. Yet, the opportunity to work with the INL provides tremendous hope as we look towards the future to prepare materials we can share either in person or digitally with a wider audience. How lucky I am to work remotely with a great team as we explore CTE opportunities in our region and research ways to promote STEM education and employment opportunities with the support of the INL. I look forward to sharing with the school-aged students, faculty and administration in our region the tremendous educational and employment opportunities we have with the INL. They are nothing short of an amazing STEM partner!
- Jessica Butler
My time as an Extern with the INL and Idaho STEM Action Center is quickly winding down. It has been so rewarding to be a part of the INL’s K-12 Education Team for a few short weeks. I have been able to attend meetings with the larger Education Team as a whole and find what amazing projects they as individuals and smaller teams are working towards. In my team we have been creating a Counselor/College and Career Toolkit focusing on encouraging STEM mindsets in students and advising students on STEM and CTE career paths. As a team we have created guides, infographics, presentations, and lesson plans to assist other counselors and college and career advisors in their work. This Took Kit will be housed within the INL’s website where it can be accessed easily by those who need it to further their work with advising students as they prepare for their time after high school.
Perhaps, most excitedly, we will organize, and with INL, facilitate a continuance of College, Careers and Coffee in Regions 5 and 6. Our first meeting will be held virtually (thanks COVID-19) and we will introduce those in our region to the Tool Kit we have created, as well as coordinate with state agencies and industry professionals to provide updates and other important information. It is our hope the event will continue to grow. We have three more events in the works for this school year.
Working from home has been challenging to really create the environment I would hope for in an Externship, but it has been well worth every minute as we prepare for the future in providing more resources for our jobs and further resources to help students. I feel like we are just getting started on this project. There is still so much more that could be done, but I am thrilled with what we have created.
This summer I had the opportunity to extern at INL with the education outreach group. I have always known that INL is very supportive to schools and gives generously. What I didn’t know was to what extent they are working to support us. I was able to become familiar with all the projects they are working on and participate in their efforts. I was so excited to hear about some of their coding grants that I decided to present to my district administration and principals to let them know of the opportunities provided.
Almost three weeks in, I've felt welcomed both in-person and virtually at St. Luke's! During the first two and a half weeks, I was going into the office and learning about the complex world of HR Compensation. Although I am now working from home-- the learning and collaboration continues! Through these formal and informal conversations, I've learned that compensation is a balance of ethics, HR, attracting and retaining talent, and managing the financial health of the organization. Beyond getting to truly know the compensation team, I've dived into the following data visualization projects: combining special pay information, highlighting important trends in the calculation of offers, and designing a visualization for the Annual Compensation Review.
In these short 3 weeks, I've highlighted the following takeaways that I want to bring back to my classroom:
- There are so many different healthcare professions beyond nursing and being a doctor
- How different companies determine your compensation
- Data visualization with PowerBI is interesting and powerful! I'll try to see if we can integrate it into our curriculum or use it as an extension activity.
What a great time it was to meet the Digital Adoption Team with St. Lukes Health System this week! It consists of 5 members who work on creating educational materials and provide technical support throughout the hospital. The goal is to transition the facility to Office 365 cloud tools. West Ada school district adopted this system a few years ago and I've had experience training staff on using the tools. I was able to meet in the office with Molly Zimmer (project manager) and she shared with me amazing tutorials the team has created to help with the transition. It was awesome to explore how the systems of West Ada School District and St. Lukes have similar goals on how to fully integrate Office 365 and am looking forward to learning how collaboration can enhance the productivity of both systems.
The focus my second week was on "Champion" training. It is similar to West Ada School District's leadership roles. The Team trains leaders throughout the hospital that can help other staff members become more productive with the tools available. I attended a "Team Live Event" and researched how to create my own live event when it could be beneficial. I think it would be great for Virtual School House meetings. The information is presented in a clean way, and the questions that attendees may have are filtered to the manager, rather than interruption of the flow of the meeting. Therefore, it is more productive for members of the event who may not need to have certain questions answered. The delivery was excellent and I'm excited to manage my own Live Event when school resumes.
Most recently the focus was on Microsoft 365 tools SharePoint Sites and Planner. The team is looking at developing skill paths for SharePoint sites. I created a "sandbox" site to learn the features. I also researched the features of Planner. I learned about how Planner can be used to make "buckets" of tasks for students that are assigned, in progress, and completed. Both tools will be extremely beneficial in the coming school year. I met with members of the Team in West Ada that are preparing Virtual Digital Curriculum and shared my new knowledge. I have learned a ton thus far on how to utilize Microsoft 365 more than we already have and looking forward to the next few weeks.
It has been an extremely rewarding experience to be an extern at Boise WaterShed. Due to COVID we started out the summer virtually, but after a couple of weeks were able to open up the WaterShed to staff and visitors. Cindy and the staff at the WaterShed took me in right away and it was like I was a part of the team from the first day. Cindy introduced me, virtually, to several people that she thought would be good resources for me as a teacher. I talked with state and federal resources as well as those local to Caldwell where I teach. I was able to greet visitors to the WaterShed and interact with families through WaterShed Wednesdays. We would plan out activities around a theme, like the water cycle, and then families would sign up to come and learn, play games, create art and engage in activities to learn about the water cycle. Many families attended and I was able to get to know several that came each week. It was so much fun to interact and teach families about science this summer, even though it was at a limited capacity. I was also able to take part in webinars, teacher workshops, Project Wet, and learn about the Water Renewal Facility that is right next door to the WaterShed. I was able to tour the water testing lab, which was an incredible experience and make videos that were posted to YouTube. Through the WaterShed, I was able to teach children about seismographs and what it takes to be a Meteorologist with Scott Dorval from News Channel 6. There were so many things I learned about nature, water renewal and watersheds that I did not know. I will be able to use so much of what I experienced this summer in my classroom with my students. I am so grateful to the STEM Action Center, Cindy and the staff at the WaterShed for the opportunity to work, and learn with them this summer.
The Boise WaterShed is so fortunate to host Tara Daniel at our site! She was eager to get started even while our facility was shut down due to coronavirus. She contributed ideas toward new lesson plans and programs, especially within her expertise of earth science, which is a perfect tie to our programs. Now that the facility is open, she’s been able to produce a video for our weekly educational programming. She also has jumped right in to being an ambassador to visitors!
One of Tara’s goals is to interview a variety of professionals in STEM careers at the City of Boise and in her school’s hometown. She has already interviewed five individuals and will continue to conduct more throughout her externship. She is working on putting together a career booklet for our education staff to hand out at school fairs and put on our web site. We’re gaining insight into what teachers and students look for in terms of career education. Tara is a rock star!
-Cindy Busche, Boise WaterShed
Around the Treasure Valley in 80 minutes
Transportation Demand Management... prior to starting at ACHD’s Commuteride program, it was a term that wouldn't have struck a chord with me. It was a term I’d heard thrown around in city council posts and news articles, but not one I could honestly say I knew much about. That all changed when I started working with Ada County Highway Disrtrict’s Commuteride team.
Transportation Demand Management means reducing single occupancy commuter vehicles to work with existing infrastructure to reduce emissions, traffic, and ultimately, make life better for citizens of a city. Here at Commuteride, that means organizing ClubRed Vanpools, which transport 5 to 11 people to and from work, managing Park and Ride lots for public transit and carpool users, marketing the website ShareTheRideIdaho.com, and promoting alternative transportation methods like biking and walking. In addition to these important facets, COVID-19 has added another challenge to transportation and Commuteride’s goals, making many of these tasks that much harder.
In my first three days, I have sat in on meetings regarding marketing, counted parking spots, learned about CityGo services, looked at various methods of commuting and their impact, and learned about the various effects of single-occupancy vehicles - not just on the environment or community, but on the individual driving the car as well. I cannot wait to develop a stronger working knowledge of these topics, and begin implementing these into schools, both through lesson plans and through aiding with the development of school carpool programs!
Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories
I am enjoying working with an incredible team of engineers, technicians, operators, and consultants at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories’ Lewiston, Idaho campus.
The first part of my project has been Engineering Design and Development. My focus is implementation of digital vision inspection into robotic applications in the Plastics Department. This is where the injection molding process is automated within robot work cells. While SEL has used machine vision to inspect parts for quite some time now, my job has been to investigate the possibility of machine vision…well, I can’t say anymore. It’s proprietary! Sorry! Anyway, I have been collecting and analyzing data, and reporting my findings to my team. Now, I’m going to learn how to program the industrial robots and integrate machine vision using the results of my research.
Working in a team at SEL is so different from teaching engineering in high school! In class, I can have my students work in pairs or small teams and they communicate their ideas face-to-face and through engineering documentation. In a global corporation like SEL, communication is key to the success of any project. There are so many ways in which you must be able to clearly express yourself: verbally, in writing, via email, chat, video conference, face-to-face, through technical sketching… SEL particularly likes whiteboards! Everyone here works together, even if they are not on your team or in your department. I am amazed by the camaraderie throughout the factory. Problems get solved together and everyone has a voice. The flow of expertise and product here is seamless.
The essence of SEL is innovation and its mission is “to make electric power safer, more reliable, and more economical.” To do this, SEL designs, invents, and builds digital products and systems that protect power grids around the world. This technology prevents blackouts and enables customers to improve power system reliability and safety at a reduced cost. Inspired by his graduate school research, Dr. Schweitzer invented the SEL-21, the first microprocessor-based digital protective relay. The invention revolutionized the electric power industry! The company was founded in his basement in 1982 and today employs more than 5, 200 people around the world. SEL manufactures its products at its four state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities located in Pullman, WA, Lewiston, ID, Lake Zurich, IL and West Lafayette, Indiana.
So, you know when your power blinks off and then comes right back on? Next time that happens, think SEL! The digital relay provides feedback to computers in order to make split second decisions to shut down or reroute power through the grid. Before the SEL-21, this process took hours and sometimes days to identify and repair. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect match for my STEM AC Teacher Externship!
Idaho Drone League (UofI)
My work with iDrone started at home but has taken me outside the office several times since then! I have toured the Idaho Water Center and learned about each of the drones and their research purposes. I have my own office where, at one point in time, I had 4 separate monitors running. I have been out in the field to collect insect samples using a drone for an ongoing research project-- debugging the fields and debugging my code in the process-- and I am currently creating a flight path and headed to the Boise river this week to test it out and record an aerial view. I also learned to fly a drone manually and take pictures, as well as tons of new terminology.
Over the past month, I have been hard at work creating virtual camp content for a drone-based summer camp-- from Code-Along screencasts to Drone Build-with-Me Instructional videos to an Interactive Drone History Timeline. Jae and I are thinking of new ways to make engaging drone content every day. I've learned so much about drone technology, applications, and research already, and I'm excited to see what the rest of the summer holds!
Children's Museum of Idaho
Welcome to the Children's Museum of Idaho!
It has been a great start to my Externship experience this summer and while Covid-19 precautions are in place it hasn't stopped patrons or me from exploring all that they have to offer. "Our mission is to bring children, families and the community together to engage in learning through creative play continues to drive our desire to provide the very best in hands-on interactive experiences for children ages two to eight." (CMI) It truly has an audience of all age ranges and it's been fun getting to know some of the members and see the newcomers. I have been able to support them by writing lesson plans for their daily story time and craft, weekly STEM explorations and current events. By conducting some of those story times and STEM sessions and helping out around the museum with crowd control and tidying up. In addition, I was able to participate in their "Touch a Truck" event which brought vehicles like tow trucks, construction trucks, a city bus, street sweeper, sewage pumper and delivery trucks for the kids to climb into, honk the horns and have a great time.
The museum is in the midst of its online auction and hoping to raise money to "allow the museum to update, enhance and add exhibits so visitors have a new experience each time they visit. Our goal is to keep admission prices affordable as we continue to be a treasured resource for families and schools from throughout the region." (CMI) I have been able to see first-hand the power of creative play in exploring the variety of exhibits such as the rocket ship, airplane, pirate ship, vet's office, bank, grocery store and pizza company as well as the outdoor dinosaur exhibit and barn areas. So lucky to be able to learn and grow in this fun and enriching environment.
While the Children's Museum of Idaho gives children a variety of opportunities at creative play, they also provide them with an up- close look at animals and nature in this unique setting. Whether it's the fish tank as you enter, the beautiful gardens out back or the exhibits of chicks, Sammy the bearded dragon and Larry the tortoise there is so much to see and experience. This week they even brought in a group from Go Team Therapy Dogs to visit with the kids and hand out collector cards of each dog. It's been great to watch the interaction between kids and animals that many of them have never seen before and to listen to the conversations amongst families. There is a tremendous amount of learning in this unstructured setting and the kids thrive here.
Idaho Public Television
My first week with Idaho Public Television was really great. On my first day, I was invited to tour the studio, be an actor in a Science Trek show, and watch a live taping of Idaho Reports. We all know that it takes a lot of behind the scenes technology and people to put together a show and it was incredible to see what it takes to make it all happen. Just by looking at the equipment, someone who is unfamiliar would never know that most of it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars or that those that operate the equipment did years of schooling to learn how to use it. It was also interesting to see how IPTV is handling producing shows given the current pandemic. A show that in the past might have taken four people to direct/produce/run the sound/etc, now is being done by just 1 person. They have really paired it down to the bare minimum.
One of my projects has been to help obtain copyright permissions for the content that will be used on Classroom Idaho. We need to begin filming our teachers and their lessons starting early July, but we have to have approval to use the books, websites, and other materials these teachers have planned to use in their curriculum. I was shocked by how complicated and how difficult it has been to obtain the permissions to use this material. It has been a more interesting project than I originally thought because of all the twists, turns, hoops and hurdles we have had to jump through. Some publishers have stated that it will take 6-8 weeks to approve a resource- we don't have that kind of time. Oftentimes you find out that the stated publisher doesn't actually have the rights and they will direct you to a different publisher- I still don't understand why! Some content providers want to know exactly which unit, or pages, or photos a teacher will be using. And just when you have established a line of communication with a resource, and are super close to getting it approved, the teacher decides they don't want to use that resource anymore! It's been a challenge and it is a very different experience than what I currently do in the classroom.
I don't exactly know how I will incorporate all of this summer learning into my classroom. For now, I am just trying to soak in as much learning as I possibly can. The folks at Idaho Public Television certainly could have assigned me projects that utilize skills that I already have (such as curriculum development), however, they have curated projects that allow me to see the full scope of IPTV and pull me out of my comfort zone. I am grateful for the opportunity to broaden my knowledge and I am enjoying my summer externship.
Idaho Technology Council
From my initial interview and as of today, the five member team of the Idaho Technology Council has made me feel like one of them. Even though our meetings on a daily basis are via Zoom like many other externs, I feel like we are in one room discussing how our day has gone and what is to be achieved.
To be honest, I had no idea what the ITC was all about when I was contacted. I wasn’t aware of the value and importance the council has been for Idaho’s tech industry, economic development, and education for many years. The council partners with growing to mid-size companies and large corporations committed to the success of Idaho’s technology system. Members include CEO’s, CIO’s, presidents, VP’s, etc. from just about every business you could imagine all throughout the state.
After assessing areas of need and where I could best support the team, they asked me to assist with Idaho Codes which is focused on computer literacy for secondary students. Within Idaho Codes I have been able to sit in on meetings with members throughout the state who are in the process of resetting their mission and purpose when it comes to increasing career opportunities for students, particularly by promoting or supporting the skills to meet workforce needs. With that in mind, Idaho will see a computer literacy course either required or provided as an elective in all high schools in the next couple of years
Another key area I’ve been asked to participate in is with the Idaho Knowledge Report (IKR). It is in its third year and provides metrics within the six regions of Idaho to better allow the regions to measure success and identify prescriptive actions to assist transforming Idaho’s economy into a stronger, more vibrant and sustainable one. I have been working closely with ITC member Fehoko Lui. If that name sounds familiar, he was a four year starter on the defensive line for BSU and graduated last year. Fehoko and I contact identified members in the six regions in the areas of industry, economic development, and education. We send out invitations with information about the IKR, set up Zoom meetings, then discuss the IKR. Fehoko is the lead but today he couldn’t attend and I was on my own! And of course, it was with the ITC Chair. By the way, it went fine but you could guess I was a little nervous being on my own. When members are then identified, the vision teams will meet collectively in each region and provide the necessary information for the report.
I couldn’t be happier in my externship with the Idaho Technology Council. Thank you Jay, Fehoko, Christina, and David. In such a short time I have learned so much and really feel that we are helping each other in many ways. I have met a tremendous number of individuals throughout the state so far and I’m sure many more to come. I am looking forward in seeing what lies next around the corner.
Sprinting Forward with Allata
What an incredible experience so far! I have been onboarded into a 16 person team with members across four states. It is incredible to be part of a team so large and spread out across the US. The organization of meetings and technology tools allows the team to be flexible and communicate efficiently for maximum productivity. I am lucky to be able to join part of the team at the Eagle office 2-3 days a week as they take extra initiative in providing safety in the current pandemic. Allata has set high standards for their team members and I am thankful to be able to gain insight into their effective teamwork for projects and professional growth. I have quickly adjusted to this fast pace agile team as they joke that it’s like “drinking out of the fire hose”. I have been able to see a full sprint and am now adding velocity to the next sprint.
Agile with Allata
Allata is a consulting company who works side by side with the client to deliver a better product and solve the difficult technology issues their clients face. Allatians need to be strong individuals who work well independently and even better together. With skilled developers, they love solving problems for an ever-changing technology landscape. Every client they engage offers a unique problem and holds its own set of challenges and this fluid environment pushes them to adapt and rise to the challenge. To keep up with the fluctuating line of work, Allata uses the Agile methodology. The agile methodology is a type of project management process used for software development, where demands and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customers. I created a Schedule to shed light on all of the meetings that help provide velocity to meet the demands and needs of each Sprint for the specific client/project team I am working on with Allata. Each meeting is important and provides a foot forward for the entire team and stakeholders in development processes, planning, designing, developing, testing, and release. While Agile, Sprints, and this entire process is all new to me, it relates back to my classroom in many ways! It is important that we are constantly communicating with all parties (students, parents, teachers, community, etc.) and assessing our goals to be able to provide the best education for all of the different students and their needs in the classroom.
Workforce Development Council
¨School doesn't prepare us for the real world.¨ ¨When am I ever going to use this after graduation?¨ ¨This class is a waste of time!¨ Have you heard any of these statements as a teacher? I definitely have! (As a Biology teacher, I think learning about the way living organisms function is always relevant…but that isn't my point today!)
We can make school more relevant to the ¨real world.¨ Academic learning in classrooms should correlate to authentic tasks that professionals do in their fields. And by high school, students should have opportunities to observe and/or experience what a career of their interest is actually like!
During my externship with the Workforce Development Council, I have learned so much about work-based-learning opportunities! There are so many strategies to give students a window into what their future could hold: from learning about work through career counseling and industry speakers, to experiencing a work environment through an internship, to being paid to learn a trade as an apprentice. My project this summer is to help develop and compile resources for educators to start implementing more work-based-learning (WBL) opportunities in their schools. This is an area I am passionate about for so many reasons! First, I think WBL opportunities can greatly help students to know more about a career before deciding to jump in. I was one of the college students who changed majors twice before discovering that I loved teaching; many college students don't understand what theyŕe getting into with their major and may end up investing thousands of dollars and 4+ years of their life, only to find they don't love the career for which they've studied.
Second, not all careers require a four-year degree. College is expensive, many students are unable to work while also taking a full load of classes, and many students just don't thrive in a classroom environment. Apprenticeships are a great alternative to a four-year degree! This summer, I've been able to sit in on virtual meetings and learn about how apprenticeship programs are growing across the country. So many career fields can incorporate apprenticeships, beyond well-known industries such as electricians. Many young people can save themselves from student debt while training for a well-paying career and receiving wage increases as they gain skills. This sounds so awesome! In Idaho, we have a huge percentage of students who do not go on to post-secondary education; apprenticeships seem like a valuable strategy for increasing post-secondary training without requiring young people to leave a rural area that they know as home. I am excited about the potential for Idaho businesses and schools to develop new apprenticeship programs!
Work-based-learning opportunities can combat the disconnect that students experience between school and career. I am excited to spend the summer learning about these opportunities and developing some practical steps for myself and other teachers to implement them!
I wrapped up my summer externship this week, and while it was a bit disappointing to complete it all from home, it was overall a great experience!
I learned so much about resources for helping students determine which careers they are interested in as well as resources for helping them plan a pathway to their career. As a science teacher, I don't do much career advising, but students often ask me questions about careers in science, especially healthcare. I am excited to have more understanding of different types of careers in healthcare and other fields. I also feel more confident in my ability to help a student track down information about careers they are interested in.
One mini project I got to help out with was providing feedback from an educator's perspective on Rural Career Flyers for schools. The Workforce Development has been developing flyers about several career clusters in which students could expect to find employment in their local area. They include some basic information about what the job is like, including aspects that could make it difficult, which young people need to be aware of when choosing a career! The flyers also have some statistics about salaries to expect and education or training needed. I am excited about these flyers being available in schools, because they will provide a clear snapshot of career basics that can help inform students about options.
Hoping you all have a wonderful end to your summer and a peaceful transition back to school!
Idaho Central Credit Union
Thanks to COVID-19, I have been doing the majority of my externship with Idaho Central Credit Union from my house. Initially I thought this would be a challenge, but the employees at ICCU have made it just the opposite.
Ever since my first team meeting, I have felt nothing but welcomed. The very first thing I noticed when I went on a tour of ICCU was how friendly and positive all the people were. Everyone smiled and greeted me when I went by. Everyone went out of their way to ask me about my day and to welcome me to ICCU. From that day on, I have noticed that this is the culture throughout the credit union.
For the first half of my externship I have been working with the training team. Sara, Ben, and the rest of the team have made me feel so welcome. I have had the opportunity to work a lot with Levi, one of the video producers on the training team. He has taken me under his wing and provided me with some amazing opportunities. With Levi, I have been able to help with the video production of a handful of training and marketing videos. We have been able to spend a little bit of time on the main ICCU campus, which is beautiful, as well as some time in the Pocatello and Chubbuck branches of ICCU.
During these video productions, I have been able to help with the setup and takedown of the video equipment and lighting. I have also had the opportunity to set up video shots and ask some of the questions we have for the interviewees. It has been amazing to see how all of the equipment works. I have also enjoyed seeing what it is like behind the scenes of making the training and marketing videos.
Another incredible opportunity I have had while at ICCU was tagging along with Ryan, another producer at ICCU, on a drone video shoot. This was extra exciting for me because I am going to be teaching an Unmanned Aircraft Class at American Falls High School this coming year. It was awesome to see Ryan fly the drone and get video shots of the ICCU campus and some of the ICCU team members. It was fun to see a drone being used in the banking industry and proved to me that there is a need for drone pilots in many different businesses and industries.
I am looking forward to the second half of my externship and am so glad that I have been able to work with the awesome people at ICCU!
I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work at HDR, a design firm specializing in engineering, architecture, environmental, and construction services. This gem of a company has over 200 offices around the world and employs more than 10,000 people. The River Quarry Office, where I work, has approximately 90 employees and is located off Park Center Boulevard along the beautiful Boise River.
I’m in my second week and HDR and I am (happily) overwhelmed by what I have learned in such a short period of time. This setting is nowhere near my intellectual skillset so I was a bit nervous before my first day. (My biggest fear was that I would be asked to solve a math problem!) My nervousness went away when I was immediately greeted with genuine kindness and enthusiasm.
My first week was spent learning about this incredible company through various one-on-one and virtual meetings. The virtual meetings showed me how well employees network across offices, drawing on strengths and expertise of others. I am now interviewing employees (engineers, architects, accountants, geologists, hydrologists, graphic artists, designers/visual artists, etc.) to learn how they came into their careers, interests in high school, what they like about their jobs, and hopes/plans for the future.
The information I am learning is a win for both me and the students I advise. I am already giddy thinking about how this will help my students when they come to me for career and college advisement. My project is to put together a plan for HDR staff to engage with high school students interested in STEM careers, as well as a college recruiting plan.
This photo collage reflects my experiences “in the field” with Alyssa, one of HDR’s geologists. I observed and then helped Alyssa collect water samples. Thankfully, she didn’t ask me to help with the calculations!
-Rae Peppley, College and Career Counselor
As I move into my final week at HDR, I am reflecting on my expectations going into this externship vs. what I learned. I didn’t know what to expect. I had hoped to learn about careers in engineering, an area I felt I had little to offer my students. My experience at HDR, however, provided me with so much more. I interviewed 47 employees: engineers (bridge, roadway, environment, power, and water), project managers, geologists, artists (visual and graphic design), accountants, public outreach specialists, marketing specialists, civil construction inspectors, technical writers, and CAD/BIM specialists. I learned about their careers and the pathways they followed from high school to college to job(s). The cherry on top was advice they offered for high school students interested in their fields.
My second task was to assist this local HDR office in developing a college recruiting plan. I reached out to four Idaho universities and met with deans, professors, advisors, employee relation liaisons, internship coordinators, and student organization leaders. Because of that project I have new and exciting connections at the universities. These relationships and better understanding of degrees/programs are a direct result of this externship experience.
My third task was to create a proposal for how this office can engage Treasure Valley middle and high school students interested in STEM careers. The project will not only forever form a bond between this high school college and career counselor and this local HDR office, but it will also create an opportunity for other school personnel to connect with the company.
In the end, I’ve realized that I’m walking away with so much more than I expected. For one summer I was part of a successful employee-owned company. I saw a company that supports staff, encourages networking with offices in other states, promotes teamwork and collaboration, values community involvement, and fosters an environment of mentorship, growth, and positivity. I’ve joked with them that I would apply to work here if I had the right degree, certification, artistic talent, or math ability required… but, alas, I do not. Thankfully I truly love my job at my high school and can’t to share my new connections and knowledge with my students!
Franklin Building Supply
Working with Franklin Building Supply
Franklin Building Supply, as many Idahoans will know, is a major home building supplier in our state. Their offices span Idaho and are open to contractors and the public. If you are building, repairing, or renovating a house, your local Franklin Building Supply is a place to visit.
I started my summer project visiting their Boise headquarters. There I learned I would be given the task of reviewing their learning management system. That’s a good thing as I’m not very good with a hammer. The tour on my first day took me to two of their offices and a large yard where they store, load, and unload building materials. There’s a lot of activity taking place in their yard since the state is still building homes at a fast pace, even during our current lockdown.
Places like lumberyards require a large number of well-trained employees to manage. Industrial facilities like lumberyards can be dangerous places to work. A lot of heavy vehicles and heavy building supplies move around constantly. In addition, powerful hand-operated tools are frequently in use. Therefore, it’s not surprising to hear that new employees must learn about person protective equipment, tool use, vehicle operation, and the rules of the road if they are to have a long and productive career.
After my introduction, I have spent my days understanding their learning management system. Now I am creating curriculum and teaching plans that will integrate into Franklin Building Supply’s current system. I find it an interesting change of pace, from trying to prepare lessons for high school students to preparing them for adults. The audience is different and so are some of the approaches.
This is definitely going to be a different and interesting summer me for, thanks to the STEM Action Center and Franklin Building Supply.
Idaho Forest Group
Many people step into various careers where they strive to create a lasting, positive impact in the lives of others. We teachers know this first hand, and are pretty close to the top of the list. What doesn’t immediately come to mind is how the Forestry and Lumber Industry has contributed to the lasting, positive impact of future generations as well. I can say, without a doubt, that my short time externing with Idaho Forest Group has been very educational and rewarding, and I see how this industry is creating a positive impact meant to last for generations now and to come.
I’ve been tasked with the responsibility of creating age appropriate educational materials for each of IFG’s 7 sawmills. These materials include topics such as the “Past, Present, & Future” of the Lumber Industry, The Milling Process that shows how 100% of a log is used, Forest Management as a Renewable Resource, Impacts of Disease and Insects on Forests, etc. I am also looking at creating other materials such as wooden puzzles that students can use to calculate the best use and value of a given tree. A side project also has me working alongside Idaho Forest Products Commission (IFPC) and Project Learning Tree (PLT) to update their “Cookies in the Classroom” curriculum in Idaho.
In order to be successful in creating these materials I needed first hand experience with all of the above listed. Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve been in the mountains with foresters who have shown how they strategically cut and replant with the forest health and recreation in mind. I’ve been on tours through sawmills, watching a log being turned into lumber, wood chips for pet bedding, sawdust for wood pellets, and bark for steam fuel and/or landscaping. I’ve been on the site of an old gold mine where IFG is working alongside other agencies to restore a 13 mile stretch of prime trout stream habitat. I’ve seen a plethora of jobs created by the lumber industry. It is through all of this boots-on-the-ground, first hand experience that I have seen how IFG is putting the future first and making that positive impact. We will enjoy the forests for many more years due to healthy forestry practices, and I have a new respect for the lumber I am using while rebuilding my deck... Oh yeah, I should probably get on that.
Viewing Idaho Forest Group through a Teacher’s Eyes
Idaho Forest Group accepted an invitation to host a teacher this summer as part of the Idaho STEM Action Center’s Teacher Externship program. The purpose of the externship is to expose teachers to industries and careers, encouraging them to share what they learn with their students. IFG’s goal was to provide an experience of our company and the forest products industry from the inside, and to create age-appropriate educational tools from a teacher’s perspective.
Craig Peterson, a 5th grade teacher at Northwest Expedition Academy in the Coeur d Alene School District, spent six weeks at IFG working with Marie Price. Craig’s school teaches a project-based and exploratory learning curriculum. When Craig was asked why he wanted to participate in the externship, he said, “I want to develop a relationship with Idaho Forest Group so that my students can learn about the industry and help solve problems.”
Craig enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to learn about the process of producing lumber, from the woods to the mill to the consumer. Although COVID travel restrictions limited what could be done, Craig was able to view an active logging site, learn about forest restoration and conservation, tour several mills and divisions, and interview key personnel. Craig participated in Zoom meetings with the Idaho Forest Products Commission, Project Learning Tree and the Forest Resources Association.
Craig’s perspective as an educator reinforced the fact that every aspect of our industry can be correlated to STEM – from forest biology, to the math associated with manufacturing logs and selling lumber, to the computer software used to automate our mills and track production and sales. Craig condensed all that he learned into several informational panels designed to spark a student’s curiosity and interest. Each mill will receive a display board with panel materials that can be used at schools and community events. Craig created a wooden puzzle for kids that requires geometric thinking. It is challenging to solve!
Hosting Craig was an excellent experience. His enthusiasm for learning and teaching is contagious. We look forward to connecting with Craig and his students in the future.
I just wanted to share a little about my experience working at the Clif Bar Baking Company here in Twin Falls. After a week of orientation, they put me to work. I’m paired up with an awesome trainer and am working on the processing line. It is amazing to see all of the automation involved with the making of Clif Bar’s products. It is quite the set-up. I appreciate my trainer showing me a good example and giving clear instructions. He shows confidence in my ability to do the work in whatever area we are assigned each day. We work 12 hour shifts, which takes a little getting used to. Everyone here is very nice, and they all take pride in creating an amazing product. I look forward to continuing to learn all I can during my time here.
The Sandbox Group
When I heard about this externship opportunity I didn't realize what an amazing experience I would be a part of! In the span of only two months, I was given the opportunity to assist my site host, The Sandbox Group, in developing an Idaho based apprenticeship program that would connect students with local companies in order to gain work-based connections and real-world experience! Not even COVID could stop the progress with the development of this program. I wouldn't have any reservations about applying for an externship next year and would encourage any educator to take the opportunity to apply!
I have been working with an extern for the past 3 weeks and highly recommend this program. She's enthusiastic, positive, motivated and brings strong writing and editing skills to the table due to her role as an English Teacher. Having her help with a study concerning work-based learning has been a real capacity builder. I will be actively seeking an extern next year.
-Maureen O'Toole, Principle, The Sandbox Group
Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
Distance Working and Learning
Whew! Covid-19 has changed what my Voc Rehab externship looks like. I must say, I am impressed with how the staff at Voc Rehab are adjusting their daily interactions in order to best meet the needs of those they serve. Despite the challenges, they are rising up and doing their best. I have been privileged to be given a window into their processes. These last few weeks I have taken part in team meetings and observed WRTs (work readiness trainings) they have developed to reach individuals throughout our state. My workstation is in front of my computer at home, but my reach is miles away. I have seen individuals from throughout the state work together to build confidence and ability, supporting each other and their goals.
The picture is a meeting of my boss and I. One benefit of online meetings - I'm the small picture!
- Amber McVey
Another week of online interactions!
Voc Rehab makes it look easy, but I know it’s not. From developing, sending out, and implementing a complete curriculum to organizing employees across Idaho, Voc Rehab is demonstrating how committed they are to their clients and their community. This week, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing a variety of team members from all over Idaho about their jobs and their interactions with Idaho’s labor force. It is amazing how much these individuals put into their jobs. They have to be multitaskers who are multitalented. From organizing transportation to coordinating employment, they do it all and they make it look seamless. Impressive!
Whew! As I head into the second portion of my externship I have a deeper respect for all VR does. From navigating changing laws, training employees, offering a wide range of supportive services, and working with businesses throughout Idaho, VR works diligently to fulfill its many responsibilities. They have taken the same scope and vision in working with me. I find their focus is showing me all they do, and they’ve fully embraced it. As I work virtually from home, I find I’ve been invited into offices throughout offices so that they can share their vision with me and offer support to the educational community. At their heart, they are all about education so that individuals can be independent and they are willing to do whatever they can to achieve that goal.
This is the Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation first year working with the STEM Externship Program and we highly recommend this program. The extern we have been working with has done an amazing job especially with interruptions from Covid-19. She is passionate, motivated, and brings numerous skills in program evaluation and video development. Her help with our online work readiness program that ran for the first time this summer was invaluable. The Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation would happily participate in this program again.
-Alison Lowenthal, Transition Coordinator, The Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
What an exciting opportunity this has been. I've been working for HomeCU. They build software that credit unions around the world use. Because of the nature of their business I had to submit to a background check. Check came back clean! My boss called me and asked how I felt about working remotely, because most of the company had already transitioned. Luckily the last three months have prepared me well for remote work. I did get a chance to sneak into the office for a day and take a picture. They seem like a very friendly company to work for. There were free snacks and coffee, although with COVID going on they hadn't restocked in a few months.
My job as an extern is to work with the VP of operations, and a 20 year veteran of customer support to create video tutorials for commonly asked questions. They currently have no tutorials. All support has to be routed to an individual who will take a call, or live login. They were excited to be able to create a knowledge repository to help relieve the workload on their customer support team. We have produced 4 videos so far, but there are many more to create. We are also working on implementing a live help overlay for their website that will help onboard new customers. They may incorporate some of the videos into that system. It's been a pleasure thus far!
The externship program has proven to be an excellent fit with our company. Ben is a remarkable person who was able to hit the ground running and contribute his experience in a professional yet down-to-earth way that works very well with my team! I believe the externship role has provided Ben the opportunity to gain valuable working experience, while at the same time grow in technical areas, all of which he can bring back to the classroom to help students gain visibility into what working at a small technical company can be like. We have already discussed internship opportunities for future students to continue the work Ben has been doing. I couldn’t be happier with this program!
-Jayme Berry, VP of Operations, HomeCU LLC
A few weeks ago, I started my externship with Southwest Idaho Manufacturers Alliance aka SWIMA. We dove right into researching successful workforce development programs and why they are so important in the manufacturing industry! Did you know that by 2025 there will be 2.7 million baby boomers retiring from the manufacturing industry? Leaving a large number of open positions (2 million, to be exact) with a skill gap for the upcoming workforce. Each year companies are reporting that students are not graduating high school and college with adequate critical thinking, problem- solving, and communications skills when entering the workforce. This results in what most companies are now referring to as a “skills gap”.
This skills gap means that workforce development is an essential requirement for all businesses. Workforce development will teach adequate skills to people who fall into the skill gap category, which will result in having a qualified workforce and an investment in their future. For workforce development to be successful it is crucial for companies and schools to partner together! This will allow businesses and schools to work together to develop and cultivate essential critical thinking and problem-solving skills within our classrooms that will benefit our students in adulthood. I am excited to start next school year with this on the forefront of my mind and really think about how I can incorporate higher levels of critical thinking and problem-solving into my own classroom!
House of Design
Building the future with House of Design
What an amazing experience it has been working with House of Design. I had no idea there were companies like House of Design. They use life size robots to create anything their clients can imagine. I was lucky enough to start in the company June 1st and not have to “work from home” like so many people in the world. I got to dive right in and get one on one training from the House of Design instructor for the first two weeks. Then, weeks three and four I am now taking classes alongside him from the company they purchase their robots from - ABB Robotics. I have been able to sit in on company meetings to get a full picture of House of Design. The training that I have received from both House of Design and ABB Robotics will be able to transfer into my STEM classes to both junior high and high school. In my final weeks, I will be helping House of Design create and improve their client classes and hopefully create something that can benefit the community and the company. I look forward to my last two weeks and hopefully helping them make a difference in their company as they have made a difference in my classroom. Thank you STEM Action Center and House of Design for a summer to remember.
Gravis Tech is a creative and engaging place to work—it’s a woman-owned small business in the Wallace, Idaho, where I’m from. The company, which just turned five years old, specializes in data visualization and analytics as well as technical communication and web development. Gravis Tech is also a HUBZone business, which means they are contributing to the development and strength of our rural community by bringing uplifting technology and high paying jobs to the economically disadvantaged Silver Valley. There are five of us plus a college-age intern working out of the main office and several others who telecommute from around the region. The workflow here is efficient and independent, which is no surprise, since improving workflow is also in their wheelhouse as a service they provide to others. This business has such a range of strengths that they have chosen to solicit and accept business based on the idea that they want to work with and for clients whose work makes a difference in the world, leaving it a better place in some way.
60 hours into my externship, I feel like I am a contributing member of the team. I have been working with others on several in-progress team projects, and I am also in charge of my own individual project tasks for the duration of the externship. I spent much of the first week becoming oriented in general to the kind of work that is done here, and I was able to help right away by helping rewrite an executive summary for a business development proposal. Some other team projects I’ve been working on included: adding keywords to a website to improve the SEO (search engine optimization), so others could find a website more easily; working on some social media shareables to help change the image of a civic organization and enable them to recruit more members from the younger generations; writing content for a local museum; and helping improve the accuracy of metadata connected with photos in a major archive.
Even though I am currently a K-12 school counselor, I used to teach rhetoric and writing at the college level and my skills in that realm have proven helpful in my time here, which surprised me somewhat. Before I embedded here, I didn’t realize how much of the work at Gravis Tech involves technical communication, visual rhetoric, and writing. The work here also requires so-called “soft skills” such as creative problem-solving, tenacity, seeing the big picture but also analyzing the details, and the ability to work both independently as well as with others in a team. I was also reminded how important it can be to save my work often, after I lost an hour’s worth of writing website content because the builder we were using forced me to refresh without allowing me to save first. These kinds of skills can be taught but often aren’t, unless they are integrated into a K-12 curriculum through classroom design. As a result of my experiences here, I plan to emphasize soft skills more explicitly within my counseling lessons moving forward.
The rest of my summer will involve enhancing and expanding an already established virtual history tour of the area called “Tour Wallace,” which features missing buildings and before and after sliders comparing historical locations of the past to the present. I’ll also be building lesson plans for some virtual reality devices, and working on database solutions for the Historic Wallace Preservation Society archives.
2019 Externship Archives
May 13, 2019
Summer 2019 Entries
Happy Hat Travels to the STEM Action Center!
When your school orders a lot of iPad cases the company sends you a gift of Happy Hats. At least that's what our school calls them and each summer the staff take their hats on their adventures and then submit pictures to our principal for a fun slideshow to start the year. I'm am thrilled to say that my hat and I have traveled to the STEM Action Center and am truly loving the chance to see how they support all of us in our STEM efforts. From helping to input companies for potential outreach to researching for grants and sitting in on fiscal planning it has all been an eye opener and made me even more grateful for the support and opportunities Idahoans around the state receive from their work.
- Lynnea Shafter
Wait... Is This the First Day of School?
The first day of school -- personalized name badges, ice-breakers, personality tests, and maybe even some nervous sweating. I occasionally have students complain on that first day, "But we won't do any of this outside of school, Mrs. McGrady," but in fact, my orientation with Saint Alphonsus encompassed all those 'first day' activities and more. My new colleagues decorated my desk with streamers and a personalized welcome. The first hour of orientation was breaking the ice with my table-mates. We completed a "REAL People" personality test followed by a four-corners debrief. Everything I have ever known about the first day of school came true at Saint Alphonsus -- even the nervous sweating.
- Lainey McGrady
Who's your Data?
A little over a week ago I started my externship with Western States Equipment Co., aka Wseco, aka the giant CAT dealership off of I84 in Meridian. I am working with the business insight team to build visualizations and apps to help the company drive towards their vision of making all decisions "data driven". Although the team had some initial questions, ("What even is an externship?"), they quickly got on board, as they have seen first hand how hard it is to hire software developers in Idaho. It is very exciting to imagine my students someday filling an opening like the one that this team currently has.
As with any new job I have ever had, it has been both challenging and exciting to learn new software, skills, team processes, and of course, all of the new acronyms. So far, I have put together reports using power bi and am working through creating an app using powerapps. I look forward to the projects I will work on in the next few weeks, and thinking through how I can bring the lessons learned back to the classroom!
- Maggie Chapman
Chemistry Lesson at Micron...
The first week of my summer externship at Micron included participation in the summer “Chip Camp”. Each summer, groups of middle school students spend three days exploring various aspects of the semiconductor industry. I was able to accompany a group of 25 students as they built rockets, sharpened their coding skills using EV3 robots and Raspberry Pi's, and toured the Micron facility. Both the students and myself were fascinated by the process used to perform a silver “deposition”. In this activity, we coated the inside of a glass vial with silver.
- Brian Marinelli
Reality Meets Virtual Reality
I'm a music teacher at Summit Elementary School in the Jerome District, but music is not the only thing that I teach in my classroom. I teach robotics, coding, 3D printing and other STEM activities. So, when I was awarded an externship from the Idaho STEM Action Center I was excited because I knew this was going to help me learn more about the STEM industry.
With this externship experience I’ve learned so much that I can take back to my classroom and colleagues. I hope that I can also encourage students through my experience. I hope to also encourage other teachers to implement virtual reality in their classrooms.
Some of the skills I thought I would need are not the ones that this business uses every day. I thought I would need to know how to code, and understand how VR (virtual reality) works. Both were not true. The things I needed to know were how to collaborate, communicate, express ideas, and a willingness to try new things. Yes, knowing how to build in the Blocksmith builder would have been a helpful skill except Blocksmith really wanted someone that had never seen it so they could gauge how each step was being viewed by a beginner. And I fit that part to a tee. Sometimes not knowing anything about what your doing is a good thing. I’m a learner and a teacher and this externship is an amazing adventure in both.
- Penni Aufderheide
A Journey to Create Innovative Outreach
The Micron Foundation, a part of Micron Technologies, has been a supporter of STEM education for decades. From classroom visits to professional development, Micron has worked to bring innovative STEM lessons to students, teachers, schools, and districts throughout the Treasure Valley. As a global player, Micron wants to reach more students, more families, in order to help support STEM initiatives and access. The big question is, "How?" How can the program that has been so well received in Idaho be scaled up to reach beyond our borders? That's where Brian and I come in. Micron has graciously opened their doors to give us a peek behind the curtain. We've been invited to observe Chip Camp, sat in on conferences with other large companies who have outreach programs, and toured the Micron site to see how the inner cogs work all in the hopes we can assist the Foundation in scaling up their STEM outreach program, creating a system that is accessible beyond the Treasure Valley. Cathy and Laurie are leveraging our knowledge about curriculum to build and upgrade lessons and activities that meet the goals and mission of Micron.
I can only speak for myself when I say that this is an amazing, one of a kind experience. I can't wait to see where it takes me!
- Amber McVey
Hello from KBOI Channel 2 News!
It is easy to say there is never a dull moment here at the CBS 2 News Station. From the first week, I have seen every person jump up and help each other meet deadlines. The phones seem to ring throughout the day with tips and information from community members. The morning news team is up before the sun rises and yet always have a smile on their faces. The afternoon and evening teams arrive mid-morning and into the afternoon smiling and ready to go. The sounds of reporters recording their stories and the clicking of keys fervently typing add to the steps of reporters leaving for a breaking story. These first three weeks have shown me how a successful newsroom runs 24/7. Every person is on deck and willing to help at any time. Their kindness towards each other, the public and me set an example for the community. In just three weeks, I have learned how to produce a televised news broadcast, learn a new genre of writing, post stories to the web, interview community members, edit videos and learn about the complex field of meteorology. I am excited to work with this team and cannot wait to learn more about broadcasting and journalism from all of them.
- Colleen Lewis
Research, Research, Research!
Who would have known that so much research goes into public relations? It seems silly not to have realized this in retrospect, but people working in communications need to have backgrounds and expertise in a lot of different areas. My first few weeks or so at a PR firm in Downtown Boise has been a blur. I’ve learned about things I never knew existed and things I never would have considered learning, but here we are. I read an entire book over the course of two days, have scanned and read dozens of articles and web pages, and even went to a press event to see how the press impacts the work done here. My observations have also allowed me to see how the people who work here are constantly communicating with clients, sources, and one another; they’re continually expanding their knowledge to serve clients better. I’ve taken away more in the last 10 days than I could have ever learned while researching PR online or out of the office. This experience has confirmed to me that I learn by doing, and it’s helping me remember that my students do too!
A little side note, I can’t believe how quiet it is here… I’m pretty out of the loop when it comes to working in areas that aren’t filled with 30+ 12 year-olds; I can get so much done in one day!
- Hailey Bull
Q: When Will I Ever Use This?
A: With Talent Acquisition, Of Course!
As a mathematics teacher I am often posed with the notorious question: “When will I ever use this outside of school?” Typically, my answer includes the terms ‘problem-solving’ and ‘critical thinking skills.’ But sometimes, students are still not satisfied. This week at Saint Alphonsus I was excited to help a colleague find a more efficient way to calculate percent change. Often within Talent Acquisition, job candidates ask about pay rates. These candidates want to learn what their pay increase will be working at Saint Alphonsus. Rather than providing a dollar rate (you will earn $1.23 more per hour) giving a percent increase allows the candidate more flexibility to calculate their weekly and monthly gross income.
- Lainey McGrady
Making connections with students in Idaho
As part of its STEM outreach program, the Micron Foundation hosts students from ISAS (Idaho Space and Aerospace Scholars). They provide them with a tour of the facility, information on college degrees and courses, and introductions to current Micron employees and interns. Students are encouraged to explore and ask questions while learning about all of the interesting processes, materials, and machinery that Micron employs to produce its products. Students also hear about the various paths individuals took to become engineers, chemists, and more. As an extern from the Idaho STEM Action Center, I was invited to participate throughout the day, and it was fascinating. As a community partner, Micron works to build STEM access to students in a variety of ways. They take pride in being a major player in the global memory market and in being a lead company in Idaho’s economy. They also take pride in giving back through educational outreach, helping students realize their possibilities. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in their efforts.
- Amber McVey
Adaptation and Evolution in the Workplace
While I teach adaptation in my classroom, I never thought about how it could apply to something besides the change of a species over time. I watch the people around me adapt to the circumstances of their clients in ways I never would have thought possible. When I asked about educational backgrounds, I expected to hear everyone say, “Business!” or “Marketing!” or “Accounting!”, but I was wrong. There are many different backgrounds in this building. While there is one employee with an education in communications and public relations, the others focused on poly sci., history, Spanish, education, and graphic design while in school. This has been powerful, and I can’t wait to bring these details back to my classroom. I have an opportunity to share this experience with my students and show them that, just because they might go to school for one thing, that doesn’t mean that they will be trapped in that career for their entire lives or limited by their experiences. College and career training gives kids the opportunity to go anywhere and do just about anything they want to! Plus, the people in this facility have no problem becoming chameleons in the work that they do. Does a client need help with X, Y, and Z? Then these people are going to learn about X, Y, and Z! Their backgrounds and work ethic have given them the ability to adapt in the workforce; isn’t that what I want my students to be able to do as well?
- Hailey Bull
iSTEM is a Blast!
This week I had the privilege of being able to help out at CWI iSTEM. It was truly encouraging to see so many teachers from around the state participating for four days in STEM professional development. Rockets, Hover Craft, Fossils, Flames and Butterflies-Oh My! The enthusiasm was contagious and I know many a great PBL and lesson plan are ready to go for Fall.
- Lynnea Shafter
Where We Learn More than Mathematics
As students stroll into my mathematics classroom for 47 minutes each day they anticipate learning topics including imaginary numbers, exponential functions, logarithms, etc. Most modern classrooms (hopefully) also integrate ‘soft-skills’ into each lesson. I imagine that collaboration, communication, and organization are commonly taught soft-skills. Fortunately, my externship has given me the perfect platform to learn which soft-skills are necessary to succeed in the workforce. I was delighted to dive deep into the data and analyze the results I collected from my Saint Alphonsus colleagues. While I already integrate skills like attention-to-detail, organization, and flexibility, other skills surfaced that had never occurred to me. Because of this externship exercise, I plan to include empathy, customer-service, willingness, and stress-management into my lesson planning to better equip my students for future success.
- Lainey McGrady
Write, Revise, Repeat!
As a Biology teacher, I love lab days! I don’t love reading lab reports quite as much, but I do enjoy seeing my students grow in their technical lab report skills over the year! I mark up their first lab reports with many comments; students can be a little shocked when they see their feedback, but most of them use the feedback to significantly improve their writing. I haven’t been on the receiving end of this type of feedback for quite a while...until this summer! My project is writing scripts for tutorial videos of tools that Idaho Power checks out to clients. I chose to start with light meters, researched them extensively, and turned in my first draft. It came back covered in red comments such as “insert difference between lux and foot-candle” and “talk about daylight zones.” Hours of research and three drafts later, we almost have the first set of videos ready to film! Not only have I learned way more than I expected about measuring brightness, but I also have a new empathy for my students as they read my feedback and rewrite lab reports. I’m keeping all of my marked-up video script drafts to show my students before they look at the grade and comments on their first lab report in the fall. It’s ok to not get everything right the first time!
- Carissa Hale
What is anodizing anyway?
While working with Sapphire Metal Finishing in Caldwell, I’ve learned so much about the process of anodizing aluminum. Anodizing is an electro-chemical process that keeps aluminum from rusting or corroding, ultimately making it more durable. Although it’s been difficult at times to see where anodizing fits into “real life,” (as my students would say), you’ll find anodized aluminum from the carabiner on your keychain to your Apple Watch. While Sapphire works primarily with components of engines and firearms, we’ve processed everything from bottle openers to a piece of a satellite this summer!
I’m excited to take this work back to my classroom in the fall, and will definitely use the satellite as an example to my students that although our work in the classroom sometimes feels pointless, it will have big impacts later in life.
- Jessie Hearn
The Micron Foundation works with entities throughout Idaho to increase children’s access to STEM materials, lessons, and activities. I have been included in several of these efforts, from CHIP camp to classroom lessons, it has been amazing to see. Over the last few weeks, my supervisor has been working on setting up volunteers, materials, scheduling, and much more to support our local libraries’ “Book and a Bite” program. We brainstormed activities that could be set up in a park with no access to electricity and limited access to other items, such as water. In the end, chromatography was chosen as a focus activity. It is a process that is heavily used at Micron in the fabrication process of memory chips on wafers. We were able to build a hands-on activity that hundreds of children and their families could engage in as well as create a hand-out for them to take home in order to continue exploring at home. Making sure students not only had access to the activity, but also the information behind it was a must. The Micron Foundation wants to make sure the interactions go beyond “fun”, using excitement to build interest and curiosity and providing real-world, accessible information simultaneously. They work hard to show students “the man behind the curtain” – the reason things happen and how they can take part in the magic. The Micron Foundation has a laser focus on building children’s interest in STEM in order to positively affect their futures.
- Amber McVey
App Development at Western States Equipment
My externship at Western States Equipment has given me an opportunity to practice the creative and technical skills that I teach in my computer science classes during the school year. I have spent the last few weeks developing apps that the company can use to help streamline internal work processes. In this "real world" project, there is no assessment rubric, no example project, and only vague project requirements. My ability to develop a useful project has been heavily dependent on collaboration with my coworkers, research on google, a little creativity, and lots of trail and error. Each project has gone through multiple iterations based on feedback and testing, and the final products are different than what my coworkers may have created, but no more or less "correct". I look forward to getting my students to complete similar projects this upcoming year! Other highlights at my externship include helping the team interview for a job opening, troubleshooting mind boggling "bugs" with coworkers, taking luxurious hour long lunch breaks, brainstorming student projects, and even taking a break to watch some soccer. I continue to look forward to work, and am extremely grateful to get this STEM externship opportunity.
- Maggie Chapman
Watching Worlds Collide: Communication vs. Privacy
Phone calls. Face-to-Face. Zoom. Skype. Google Drive. One Note. FaceTime. Emails. Chats. Facebook. Twitter. Pamphlets. Carrier pigeons. Ok, not carrier pigeons. But seriously, the expectations for soft skills and communication skills here are off the charts! Every day the employees at the PR firm have meeting after meeting after meeting. These people are always on the move and making connections with one another and the clients, new and old. Nothing has quite confirmed to me that our students need to learn reasoning, problem solving, speaking, writing, and soft skills quite like this externship has. Communication makes me uncomfortable in so many ways, and I don’t want that to be the case for my students. On the opposite end of the constant communication is the confidentiality that’s attached to every client assignment. After having worked in the public sector for so many years (I mean, hello! You can literally look up how much money I make on the internet), it is interesting to see people be so careful and mindful about what they say. Client satisfaction and privacy is, quite frankly, a top priority. It makes me confident that if I ever need to hire this firm in the future, they will take excellent care of me and whatever business I bring along. To them, each client has different needs, and they give each one the focus, privacy, attention, and thoughtfulness (and, of course, number of meetings) they require.
- Hailey Bull
“Life’s like a movie. Write your own ending.” — Kermit the Frog
My own ending to my externship at the STEM Action Center is coming to a close but I’m taking this experience and using it as the next chapter in my teaching career. After spending the past 20+ years in the classroom it was great to go back into the business workplace and to remember why I do what I do. I teach to ultimately prepare my students for the world outside our doors. Fortunately, as an extern here you just never know what’s around the corner to experience and today I had the pleasure of visiting Idaho Public Television. We toured the facilities, met producers, education experts and technical advisors as we waited to watch how a narrator lends their voice to scripts written by STEM AC employees for videos created by the STEM AC’s graphic designer. The amount of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity that goes into small three-minute videos is truly impressive and it’s those 21st century skills that I can reference for my students and use to discuss how they apply in local career opportunities.
- Lynnea Shafter
I have to say, This Externship ROCKS!
Hi, my name is Heidi Maimer and I am an extern at University of Idaho, Center for Ecohydraulics Research. It is a graduate education and research program dedicated to studying the links between physical processes and aquatic ecosystems. The environment, water, and natural resources are a main focus at the center.
I am currently working with 3 PhD professionals that are doing research on how grain-size distribution, elevation and sorting effects variability in near-bed river velocities. I have spent most of my hours collecting data in the field. The process is repetitious, time consuming and at times physically draining, but I love a challenge.
Next week when we go back out into the field for three days I am going to retire my Nike flip flops and show up with Chaco river shoes and a 5 person Marmot tent and truly rock this experience.
- Heidi Maimer
How far can they reach?
Whew! The last week has been busy. I have been reviewing and researching information to refresh aspects of the Micron Foundations STEM outreach program, sitting in on internship meetings with engineers, project managers, and global materials experts, touring the facility, and much more. I would have to say my favorite part is helping connect teachers who need classroom materials with items from Micron that meet those needs. In addition to providing STEM outreach, the Micron Foundation also works to ensure that nothing at Micron goes to waste. This means that, as Micron replaces old computers with new ones or refurbishes areas, the Micron Foundation acts as a go-between to identify districts and classrooms that would benefit from the items. They reach out to find spaces that are in need, and then they fill that need. Old computers and their components are compiled and donated to Computers for Kids, office materials are donated to districts and classrooms, and a vast amount of personal time is donated worldwide to a variety of projects.
- Amber McVey
It’s All About Experiences!
The Idaho National Laboratory is dedicated to educational outreach statewide. The K-12 STEM Educational Program Team at the INL works hard to inspire and excite children about STEM. They award hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants along with providing hands-on learning activities for many events. I get to work with the dedicated professionals behind the scenes everyday and look forward to finding and creating engineering activities for students throughout Idaho.
We all have teachers, mentors, coaches we remember who inspired us to strive for greatness. We don’t remember the worksheets or assessments, but we do remember the way they made us feel and the silly things they did. We remember the experiences they gave us. Experiences change the way we see, feel, think, and react. Traveling to Colorado to attend Science in the Rockies STEM Experience with Steve Spangler has been a highlight of this externship. Steve is all about creating experiences, showing how fun science and STEM can be. His goal is to provide experiences that leaving you say “best day ever”. For three days, Steve shared exciting demonstrations, included us in hands-on activities, and showed us some clever magic tricks to use in the classroom. You could tell what his passion was when you walked into the conference room.
- Alaysha Whitworth, Middle School STEM Teacher
What a welcoming crew!
What an awesome experience so far! I have been working with the St. Luke’s compensation department and have had a great time learning the “world of HR.” I started in mid-June and have been working ever since. I have been able to participate with the team from the beginning and have worked with them on a lot of different tasks. From the beginning I was trusted to work on tasks independently. I think that this has been a great group to work with and they were very accepting when I came into their office. Whenever I had struggles, anyone I went to was willing to answer questions and they have been very thankful for the work that I have accomplished!
- Tim Whipple
VR, AR, and Idaho, oh my!
Through my externship with the Micron Foundation, I got the opportunity to attend an event hosted by the Idaho Virtual Reality Council. Whew, what an informative, exciting opportunity! I was able to interact and network with individuals who are interested in bringing VR and AR to education at all levels. I learned how to implement a fully immersive VR/AR program into my classroom, bringing devices and high-level materials to all students in authentic ways. For VR in my classroom, I have been using VR cardboards, Aurasma, a few limited apps, and 360 videos on YouTube. At the event, I was able to interact with a product that is more durable and student friendly than the VR cardboards I had been using. I got to see the process researchers have gone through to make VR/AR accessible to the public. Best of all, I learned about Google Expedition, an app that is free and super easy to use. This app allows me to explore a variety of areas and has materials connecting with curriculum on different levels. I was so excited, I immediately got on the phone and began sharing my new-found knowledge. I have connected my grade level team, associates from other schools, and peers from other districts to this app in the last few days. I hope to connect even more as the days go by. And now, by reading this, I challenge you to explore Google Expedition, 360 videos on YouTube, and any other materials that will bring VR/AR to your students. Challenge accepted? I sure do hope so!
- Amber McVey
My time at the news station is rapidly coming to an end as I begin to shift into gear for the upcoming school year. To tie in everything I have been learning about, I have been given the opportunity to do a news story featuring the Externship program. It will be aired Monday, July 29th. I am going to do interviews, edit video footage and report on what has made this program unique for the teachers and businesses involved. I am so excited to apply my learning over the past two months to create a story that the public will see. My hope is to inspire more educators to apply for future opportunities with Idaho STEM Action Center, as well as to create awareness of what educators actively do to stay informed of our changing world in order to best meet the needs of our students.
- Colleen Lewis
Oh, The Places You'll Go!
"Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers many leak. Oh! the places you'll go!" Dr. Seuss
From the Boise River to the Payette, to the Salmon River and on to Warm Springs and Trail Creek in Sun Valley…wow it has been a great summer. Thank you STEM Action Center for the opportunity to work with such great local scientists in the field of Fluvial Geomorphology. I have learned that we have a Stream Simulator in downtown Boise. Yes…an indoor stream. I got to work on a Patch Topography field study, where we went out into the field and measured boulders, cobbles and pebbles. I also got to work on the Trail Creek and Warm Springs project, where we downloaded data from sensors placed in the river last November. The sensors kept track of the sediment temperature over time. I also got to be a part of the Outreach program and met with Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars(ISAS) from around the state.
In addition to all of the cool Science I have learned, I have learned how to put on waiters, and balance on slippery rocks. I have also gotten over my fear of getting attacked by a bear in the middle of the night. I have met some really great people and exchanged many stories. This externship has been an invaluable experience for me. I feel rejuvenated and excited to go back into the classroom and share what I have learned. After teaching for 20 years, this is what I needed to rekindle my excitement about teaching and a great reminder of how awesome of a profession Education is. Thank you STEM Action Center!
- Heidi Maimer
Last Friday was my final day for the externship, and I was as nervous as the first day of school! It was filming day! I had worked for weeks on writing tutorial video scripts for tools, planning scenes and images, and practicing my lines. But even with all my preparation, the camera intimidates me, and a thousand anxious thoughts were running through my mind.
We did the filming in a library that has been working with Idaho Power and the Integrated Design Lab to do diagnostic tests and determine why they have been using more energy than expected. So our set of videos have a two-part purpose: demonstrate how to use the tools, and model their use in an authentic setting.
What empowered me to overcome my anxiety on filming day? An amazing team of people! The videography team from Idaho Power were professional with their guidance and patience when I needed to do a couple of takes of some scenes. A friend from the Integrated Design Lab held my cue cards and encouraged my progress. At the end of the day, it was a fun experience, and I look forward to seeing the finished product! Now on to the first day of school nerves and excitement!
- Carissa Hale
The Scientific Method in Action
On the 2nd day of my externship experience at Vista Outdoors/CCI/Speer in Lewiston Idaho I was asked to participate in a 22 LR function shoot. The purpose of the shoot was to test 22 LR ammunition to make sure that it functioned correctly in 6 shot revolvers. Because the company wants to ensure that every round functions safely and accurately it was statistically necessary to test 10,000 rounds. At the end of the day when the gun smoke cleared we had no issues to report. Ongoing testing for function and accuracy is something that the company is dedicated to on a daily basis as part of the manufacturing process. This was just one of many opportunities that I had throughout my 5 week externship at Vista Outdoors to put the scientific method into action. I am grateful for this unique learning experience and hope that it continues in the future.
- Matthew Burns