As I write this, I am on the verge of many changes. At the end of 2012 I took the second of three exams I need to become an Illinois certified teacher in secondary science and finished my last semester of classes as an undergraduate physics student at IIT. Starting this month I am doing my student teaching at Benito Juarez Community Academy High School in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. As I come to the end of my undergraduate journey, the more I wonder about my choices in school and the influence they will have on my career opportunities. The decision to get my teaching certification as an undergrad was a difficult one to make.
What can I do with a degree in physics and an Illinois science certification for grades 6-12? Apparently a lot!
When I first started looking into the field of education, I was under the impression that my only option was to teach. Now I realize that teaching is just the beginning of a promising career in education. There is a vast need for people with an education background, especially in STEM. I have thought about using my training to develop curriculum for schools. I have noticed that many science teachers do not actually have a background in science, so I have considered doing professional development for teachers. This past summer I had the opportunity to work with the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy and the Chicago Zoological Society to develop ideas for nature education programs, and I loved it. Before that, I had never considered the educational component of museums, zoos, aquariums, and other places like these listed, which fall under the umbrella of “informal education.” And then, there are summer and year-round enrichment programs—like the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy—after school programs, science programs, math programs…all sorts of opportunities in STEM education, many unexpected!!
As an intern for the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy this past fall, I had the opportunity to do further research on career opportunities in STEM education, the very kind I wish I had known about in high school or even earlier in college. With Ross Ludwig, a fellow intern and summer 2012 Program Instructor, I helped plan an event to expose our Scholars to the vast opportunities available in STEM education. “Save the date” for Tuesday, April 2, 6pm, and watch the blog for more details later this spring!
Although I myself am not certain what my career path will look like, I know that whatever I do I will do with a passion for helping my community and sharing my love for physics. The look on a student’s face when the light bulb begins to glow, the gratitude that I feel at the end of the day working with students, or the excitement I feel after writing a solid and fun lesson plan are all things that are irreplaceable.