As the start of the spring season gets closer, many Iowa teachers are already thinking about their summer schedules. One opportunity that teachers should consider adding to their summer plans this year includes the Iowa STEM Teacher Externships Program, a six-week experience that pairs secondary teachers with local businesses for hands-on learning.

The Iowa STEM Teacher Externships Program offers educators an opportunity to gain valuable insight on how science, technology, engineering and mathematics education is applied in real-world careers. Through the program, teachers commit to a five- to six-week, full-time position with local employers to see the latest trends, equipment, processes and necessary skills required for a career in STEM-related fields. This unique opportunity provides teachers with first-hand experiences that can help shape their curricula and skill-building activities back in the classroom.

“The Iowa STEM Teacher Externships Program is truly a high-quality experience for both educators and our workplace partners,” said Ann Gritzner, STEM Teacher Externships Program coordinator at the Iowa Department of Education. “It connects classroom learning with real-world occupations and allows teachers to provide valuable perspectives to students looking to explore or pursue STEM-related careers.”

All teachers participating in the program earn a stipend of up to $5,000 as well as three graduate credits from the University of Northern Iowa’s Continuing Education. Since the inception of the Iowa STEM Teacher Externships Program in 2009, there have been more than 800 externships across the state. Last year, over 80 educators and nearly 70 workplace hosts participated in the program.

“I encourage all Iowa teachers interested in STEM to apply for a summer externship,” Gritzner said. “It strengthens not only your own knowledge and skills but can also link students with STEM skill development and opportunities.”

Applications are now being accepted for the 2024 Iowa STEM Teacher Externships Program. For more information on how to apply, visit the Department's Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council webpage.