The Importance of Student Internships

This is my second year hosting SIRS (Student Internship and Research Showcase). This event highlights independent student projects that my HIGH SCHOOL students have worked on all school year. It embodies many of the things I believe are essential for teaching and learning.

Here is the introductory letter I wrote for the release of this year's scholarly journal which accompanies out showcase...

Learning is ubiquitous and interdisciplinary. The projects contained in this edition of Investigations speak to the multifaceted layers of learning through the voice of students. The student essays and reflections contained in these pages address complex ideas and relationships including ethics and science, morality and politics, education and math and service and medicine.

The young people in my class practiced critical thinking, problem solving, and synthesis across many practical settings.  Students created. They composed music. They wrote grants and lesson plans. They refined experiments.  They made documentaries. They engaged in service.

Their projects took them to a wide variety of learning spaces outside of our classroom. Students held “class” in chemistry labs, Missouri streams and on the floor of the House of Representatives. Students learned to communicate and collaborate with diverse groups.  They met new people: graduate students, professors, doctors, representatives, international students and students with special needs.

These spaces, ideas, and people, challenged my students in new ways. Their internships and projects forced them to ask new questions and to pull in learning from across the disciplines to find answers. Of course, these projects would not be possible without the partnership of our smart and generous hosts, including their graduate students and staff. I am grateful to these people for welcoming my students into their labs, classrooms and offices. As a teacher I know that many of the most powerful lessons my students learn will happen not within the walls of my classroom but in the broader learning spaces of our 21st century world.

My internship class requires students to embark on a learning adventure. However, it is my hope that the adventure continues well after our school year ends. I know my students’ paths will take them to many more learning spaces to wrestle with even more complex problems. As that happens I look forward to hearing the ways my students apply this new skillset to their next great adventure.  

Respectfully yours, Kathryn Fishman-Weaver

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