Since 2014, the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) has engaged local students with sustained, real-world research experiences through the CSI high school internship program. The internship program is designed to provide students with practical and novel exposure to careers in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) fields, and add relevance to subject matter taught in the classroom. This year CSI is hosting five interns from First Flight and Manteo High Schools—the most in one academic year so far. Each internship experience is customized, as students are individually placed with mentors based on their interests and strengths, mentor availability, and ongoing research needs at CSI. This year’s bunch will work on projects ranging from photojournalism and outreach to horticulture of native plants, as well as coastal geomorphology and Gulf Stream research.
High school students in the internship program must apply for acceptance and are interviewed to determine their background knowledge, skills, and interests. Accepted interns are matched with a mentor and given specific or open-ended projects to work on for the duration of the semester or academic year. Projects being undertaken by the 2018-2019 interns include organizing and executing the 3rd annual Science Fair hosted at CSI, working with graduate students and research technicians to analyze sediment grain sizes for a shoreline stabilization study, and helping to model ocean currents using applied physics and calculus. They will also have opportunities to participate in the development of educational programs as well as propagation of native plants with CSI Horticultural Specialist, Jeff Lewis.
While the internship experience is highly beneficial for high school seniors as they approach higher education and careers, their hard work and innovative ideas also provide valuable perspective to the researchers and educators here at CSI. Two 2017-2018 interns went on to be hired as seasonal camp instructors at CSI after establishing themselves as valuable assets to the education and outreach team. One of their projects, an augmented reality sandbox planned and constructed by Meghan Savona (UNCW), has become a valuable tool used in several of CSI’s programs to interactively demonstrate coastal processes and oceanography concepts.
Victoria Moore, 2015 intern, credits her CSI internship with guiding her post-high school pursuits. Moore states, “the introduction and experience gained from the [Coastal Studies Institute] internship created inspiration and focus towards my path of study and career, civil engineering-energy design.” Moore is one of several interns who has kept in touch with CSI mentors, noting the influence of her internship on career choices down the road. Sydney Pearce, a 2016-2017 intern, says, “The time I spent involved in STEM education at CSI influenced me to join engineering education programs at my [college]. Engineering education is something I’m considering making a career out of, and I am looking forward to further involvement at CSI.”
Click here for more information about high school internships at the Coastal Studies Institute.