Earlier this month, I left the heat and hurricanes in Florida and moved across the country to begin my role as the Apprenticeships in Science & Engineering (ASE) Program Assistant at Saturday Academy. In the two weeks that I’ve been in town, I have already met locals who have had personal experience with Saturday Academy’s classes or internships. As a newcomer to both Portland and Saturday Academy, I set out to learn as much as I could about the ASE program. I’ve spent the spare moments of my first weeks here leafing through all of our files about the ASE program, from numerical data to the thank-you notes that interns write to their mentors at the end of their internship. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
The internships that ASE offers are extremely diverse. Some interns spent their summers studying ovarian function in primates at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, while another spent their summer using a CO2 laser to improve popcorn yield at the Food Innovation Center. This past summer we offered opportunities in 11 different disciplines, and some positions involved several at once. “Development of New Dental Materials,” an internship offered by Dr. Carmem Pfeifer at OHSU this past summer, involved chemistry, engineering and materials science. When I was in high school, I remember how hard it was to be tasked with picking your college major and your homecoming date in the same semester. The diversity of internships offered by ASE gives students a wide array of tangible STEM experiences, which often influences their choice of major. We can’t help with the homecoming thing, though.
The interns are more independent and capable than I could have thought. I thought that high-school interns would require a lot of supervision and that they would help their mentors with simple, catch-all tasks (maybe even some coffee runs). I was impressed to learn that interns were given quite a bit of independence; some interns were directly involved in research, and even had their names appear on research publications. They learned how to use high-level equipment or to distribute STEM marketing materials with only as much supervision as they needed to be successful. Mentors consistently noted how surprised they were with the capability of their young mentees.
ASE interns have gone on to accomplish some pretty cool things. They have become undergraduate researchers, science educators and advocates, software developers and so much more. Whether or not students go directly into STEM fields, their summer internships lead them to be more responsible, capable and science-literate citizens of the world. You can read more about what our ASE interns have accomplished here.
I’ve learned so much about the ASE Program and I’m excited to share our mission with students and parents at info sessions this fall. I’m constantly blown away by what these young people are able to accomplish. If you want us to keep you posted on info sessions, application dates, and more, you can sign up for the mailing list. I can’t wait to meet some of Oregon’s and SW Washington's best and brightest students!
Find out more about Eleanor.