As summer is winding down and our interns and junior fellows are heading back to school or a new job, the Library is grateful to these students who take time out of their summer break to help with special projects. For the next month we will be highlighting the ST&B interns and junior fellows in the Five Questions (Intern Edition) series.
1. What is your background?
This past May (2013) I graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore County with my B.S. in Environmental Science. I also will be receiving secondary teaching certificates for earth/space science and biology for completing its education program. I got my first taste of classroom teaching when I entered the student teaching part of UMBC’s education program. I completed a year of student teaching at Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore, where I taught 3 classes of 10th grade biology!
I was also lucky to participate in a couple of additional internships while I was in college. I worked at the education outreach center at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) and also spent a summer working at Blue Mountain Wildlife Center in Pendleton,Oregon rehabilitating injured birds, particularly raptors (eagles, hawks, and falcons).
2. How did you learn about the intern program and why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?
I was looking for a summer internship related to either environmental science or education. I’m planning on teaching in the fall, so I didn’t want to commit to a long term position. I was looking through postings on USAjobs, and came across the Library Junior Fellow program. I’m a huge book nerd, so what better place for me to spend the summer than at one of the world’s largest libraries! I was especially interested because one of the positions they were offering mentioned a science education project which seemed right up my alley.
3. How would you describe your internship?
I was lucky to be working with the amazing Connie Carter. She has been an awesome mentor this summer, always willing to help me find a book or teach me some new library facts.
The main project that I worked on this summer was creating the LC Science Tracer Bullet Science Education in the 21st Century. A LC Science Tracer Bullet is basically a reference guide to get researchers started on resources within a certain topic, in this case, science education. I got to run around the book stacks looking for material related to science education. The topic was really broad, so I would grab books on science education standards, scientific literacy, inquiry, introductory books, and much more! I wanted to create a guide that would not only be useful to researchers, but also to teachers who wanted to find out about new books that have been released in their subject areas.
4. What has amazed you the most about the Library?
I was excited to find older science teaching materials and browsed a few biology syllabuses from the 1920s. They’re interesting because they show how much science education has changed over the years. Science classes focused much more heavily on ecology and physiology back then.
In biology classes now we tend to focus more heavily on genetics and evolution, as well as the scientific method. I found an old article in “American Biology Teacher” from 1942 that mentioned that out of 866 teachers surveyed, only 39 would emphasize evolution in a high school biology class. Even more interesting is that only 21 teachers would have emphasized the scientific method! In a current biology classroom, the scientific method is usually constantly mentioned whenever a lab is performed. I had never researched the history of science education before looking at these books, but now I’m really interested in this topic.
5. What have you learned about the Library that you didn’t know before you started your internship?
I didn’t realize how much information was physically stored at the Library of Congress. The book stacks are filled with books on every subject imaginable and when I would go down to look for one particular book, I’d come back with 10 others that were just as interesting. I also learned that the Library has books in many languages. Next to an English chemistry book, you might find a German textbook or a Russian laboratory guide. I’ve also realized that the LC librarians are amazing. With a search engine, you might find 50,000 results for a subject you are looking for, but the librarians can find you 15 books that are exactly what you needed, and did not even need to use a search engine to find them!