Applying for the Gateway to Science Program Assistant Internship was the best choice I could have made for my summer. It has offered me a wonderful experience working with children, insights into how to best teach engaging STEM activities, and more fun packed into two and a half months than I could have imagined.

In just a few short weeks, I will begin student teaching in a third grade classroom at Willow Park Elementary School in West Fargo, and will graduate from Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) in December with my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Last spring, I was looking for a summer job opportunity that would provide me with more experience working with kids and help me become a better future educator. I had worked as a daycare provider and a camp counselor in the past, and I was looking for something new. A family friend suggested I check out what Gateway to Science had to offer for work this summer, and I came across this internship which was a perfect opportunity.

What a summer! It has been filled with experiments, engineering-design challenges, computer coding, creating, learning, games, maker time, and overall fun! I have loved working alongside Courtney, all the Gateway to Science staff, and the campers that make it all happen.

One of my favorite parts of this internship was learning how to teach STEM material in an engaging way. Teaching science in an exciting manner is often a challenge for future elementary school teachers. Throughout my time at MSUM, I have talked with my peers and have learned that there is a general feeling of nervousness when it comes to knowing we will have to teach STEM curriculum in our future classrooms. There are numerous reasons for this, including that science classes were rarely made intriguing and fun during our own school years. As future educators, we tend to believe it will be hard for us to teach engaging STEM curriculum to our future students. Each day of a Gateway to Science summer STEM camp is filled with a wide variety of activities that challenge students while being fun at the same time. My internship with Gateway to Science has changed the way I look at presenting STEM lessons, and I am now very excited to teach them in my own future classroom!

Another favorite part of my summer with Gateway to Science is, of course, the kids themselves. They are so eager to learn and try new things. They are interested in all aspects of STEM from coding Ozobots to dissecting worms, from making solar ovens to building towers from paper that are strong enough to hold a book! I loved watching their faces go from intense concentration while determining how they were going to tackle a challenge to the pure joy they experienced at a project’s successful completion. They are creative, each in their own unique way. I learned so much from them this summer that I will take to my future classrooms, and for that I thank each and every one of them.

The experience I have gained from this internship has been priceless. I highly recommend it to any future educators looking for a one-of-a-kind summer teaching experience. It gave me so many ideas for future science lessons, and an excitement to bring out the curious scientists in my students!

~ Erin DeMaria, Gateway to Science Program Assistant, Summer 2019

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