It is critical that we build and sustain an educated and skilled local workforce. To successfully inspire and prepare students for tomorrow’s careers, teachers must have a solid understanding of the practical applications of what they teach and support to update their curriculum and teaching strategies.
In 1985 a consortium of San Francisco Bay Area companies in partnership with the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC at Berkeley founded Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME) and chose to focus on teachers as the primary agents for, and most important resource in, effecting meaningful change in science and math education. Thirty years later IISME continues to offer programs that leverage the vast resources of local corporations and university labs and galvanize their support to help teachers improve their teaching and motivate students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) based careers.
IISME's flagship program, the IISME Summer Fellowship Program, provides paid summer internships for teachers in high technology companies, universities and research laboratories. Teachers are paired with scientists, technologists, and engineers, are engaged in stimulating hands-on projects for eight weeks, and earn $8,200 for the summer. IISME helps teachers bring this experience back to the classroom and create more current and relevant curriculum.
IISME Summer Fellowships have a positive impact on teacher retention, teacher leadership, National Board Certification rates, and teacher performance in the classroom. IISME helps schools retain their most valuable resource; in fact teachers who have held IISME Fellowships stay in teaching at much higher rates than their peers in the state and nation, saving their schools thousands of dollars in teacher turnover costs.
Teachers consistently rate their IISME Fellowships as one of the best professional development programs they have ever experienced. In 2014 the teachers IISME Fellowships raved about their experience:
“Getting science teachers to experience science in the “real world” and requiring them to prepare lesson plans incorporating their experience to the classroom is the most valuable professional development opportunity I have experienced."
“Learning about how the corporate world works is a great eye-opener for me to take back to the classroom. I have a better understanding of how my teaching directly impacts the future workforce.”
“My IISME experience was a very rewarding one. I gained new knowledge and skills that I can bring back to my classroom. It is the most hands-on and minds-on professional development I have experienced so far.”
Ultimately, IISME Summer Fellowships allow teachers to leverage the cutting edge innovations of their Host organizations to help motivate their students to pursue STEM coursework and careers and become better prepared to join our competitive workforce.
The IISME Research Collaborative (IRC) supports high school science teachers committed to increasing the rigor and frequency of science inquiry and research in their classrooms, schools, and districts. Since 2010 over 13,400 students have benefited from the inquiry- and research-based opportunities offered by their teachers and the enriched equipment brought into their science labs.
IISME Fund for Innovation Grant Program (FFI) supports innovation by offering IISME Teacher Fellows grants up to $1,000. This competitive grant program provides teachers with supplies, equipment and experiences that students will greatly benefit from, but which schools cannot afford to provide. In 2014, IISME awarded 20 teachers from 19 schools over $18,000 for innovative projects such as purchasing new equipment for a haptics lab, hands-on physics kits to increase the amount of inquiry activities, and 3D Printers.