Professional Development

Out and About: Extern Programs at a Glance

By Rhea R. Borja — July 27, 2006 | Corrected: February 22, 2019 3 min read
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Corrected: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the name of the Houston A+ Challenge Teacher Externship Program.

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Real-World Experiences

Summer externships for mathematics and science teachers are gaining traction. Here is a sampling of teacher-externship programs around the country.

Georgia Intern-Fellowships for Teachers (GIFT),

Georgia Tech’s Center for Education in Science, Mathematics and Computing began its summer teacher-externship program in 1990. This summer, 86 high school math, science, and technology teachers are participating in the six- to eight-week program. Three universities and seven local corporations, such as the local office of Fairfield, Conn.-based GE Energy and the Atlanta-based United Parcel Services, take part in the program. The teachers, who must have at least two years of experience, are encouraged to create lesson plans for their students based on their summer work experiences. They are paid $728 per week.

Houston A+ Challenge Teacher Externship Program,

The nonprofit group Houston A+ Challenge teamed up with the Greater Houston Partnership in 2003 to start a weeklong summer-externship program for teachers. This summer, 112 middle and high school language arts, social studies, math, and science teachers from six local districts shadowed employees in workplaces such as Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett Packard, the University of Texas Health Science Center, and the Houston mayor’s office. Teachers are paid $800, file reports on their experiences, and map out five lesson plans each integrating what they’ve learned.

Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education(IISME),
Santa Clara, Calif.

Nearly 200 San Francisco Bay Area math and science teachers participate in the eight-week program. They work at local high-technology, science-related, and financial-services companies, as well as universities, in positions such as biosystems-research fellows, software analysts, and environmental-safety specialists. The teachers each complete both a company project and create an “educational transfer plan” to integrate what they’ve learned into the classroom. Participants earn $7,400.

Leadership Initiatives for Teaching and Technology (LIFT²),

Now in its fourth year, LIFT² combines four graduate courses at Framingham State College in Massachusetts with summer externships. The externships, which last from five to eight weeks, were offered to about 60 math and science teachers. They are paid $800 per week and work at companies and organizations such as Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon Co., the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Mass., and the Mount Washington Observatory in North Conway, N.H. LIFT² organizers hope to extend the program to 100 teachers next year.

San Diego Workforce Partnership/Bloom Life Sciences Summer Institute,
San Diego.

The nonprofit San Diego Workforce Partnership teamed up with Biocom, a local biotechnology-industry association, to provide a four-week externship program for biology, chemistry, and physics teachers. This summer, 20 teachers took part in the 2-year-old program, which is financed through a three-year, $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The first week is a “boot camp,” in which teachers learn about drug and device development and basic laboratory knowledge. They then participate in two-week externships at local workplaces such as the San Diego Wild Animal Park, Biogen Idec Inc., and the Salk Institute. The program culminates in a weeklong lab in which teachers develop education plans for their students. They are paid $4,000.

Tech Valley Teacher Externship Program,
Colonie, N.Y.

Spearheaded by the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce, the pilot program was launched last year with 10 teachers. This summer, 18 English, math, and science teachers are participating in the six- to eight-week externships at companies such as Schenectady-based SuperPower Inc. and East Greenbush, N.Y.-based X-Ray Optical Systems Inc. The teachers come from 11 school districts, are paid $20 an hour, and receive professional credit.

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A version of this article appeared in the July 26, 2006 edition of Education Week as Out and About: Extern Programs at a Glance


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