Real World Externships for Teachers of Mathematics and Science
The Real World Externships project provides professional development for 150 mathematics and science teachers in grades 7-12 in Iowa. The teachers participate in externships with local science-based industries for six weeks during the summer. Teachers learn current applications of science and mathematics that they can use to enhance their teaching. The teachers work with university science and mathematics faculty to design hands-on, problem solving activities for their students based on applications in industry, and consequently enhance the learning of approximately 15,000 students during the project and even more beyond it. The project was designed to enhance partnerships between various industries and schools. During the academic year, people from participating industries work with school personnel to provide speakers, resources, and tours, and school personnel select the teachers who participate in the externship program. The project helps teachers provide relevant content and provide current applications so that students can see the value of what they are learning. Students, teachers, and those mentoring the externs are encouraged to participate and to expand the program. Evaluators, external to the program, provide feedback on the use of application during instruction, changes in the curriculum, and the achievement levels of participating students. The externships facilitate needed interactions between industry and schools. Teachers learn applications for the mathematics they are teaching, and people from industry learn more about mathematics and science curricula, issues of instruction, and how they can work with schools. Sharing the design of the program and implementation insights are part of the dissemination plan that will assist other communities who are designing externship programs that focus on improving curriculum and instruction.