Inspiring a New Generation of Scientists

Careers in Science (CiS) Intern Program, California Academy of Sciences

If we truly want to change the world, we need to look to the next generation. After all, today’s youth are tomorrow’s scientists, activists, and voters.

photo credit Tim Griffith

As the search for breakthrough environmental solutions heats up, we need all the scientific talent and literacy we can get.

The CiS program opens new doors for 9th through 12th graders whose scientific leanings and potential might otherwise go undeveloped. Created in 1996, the program offers San Francisco students year-round, multi-year paid internships at the renowned California Academy of Sciences, a combined natural history museum, aquarium, and planetarium in Golden Gate Park.

While serving a diverse student population, the CiS program focuses especially on those from communities traditionally underrepresented in science and technolgy related fields. According to the National Science Foundation, African-Americans, for example, accounted for less than 5% of scientists and engineers employed in industry in 2008, and Hispanics just over 5%.

The CiS program enlists interns in a variety of hands-on activities—from explaining exhibits to visitors and helping set up displays to caring for the creatures housed at the Academy. Some get special training for jobs like conducting field studies or giving penguins a check-up. Besides getting exposure to important scientific and sustainability principles, students gain valuable communication, career-building, and life skills. They also get the chance to be mentored by leading science professionals.

More than 200 students have completed CiS internships to date, and nearly all have gone on to college. Of course, not every intern ends up pursuing a career in science. But many have earned degrees in fields including biology, environmental science, engineering, geology, and public health. As the search for breakthrough environmental solutions heats up, we need all the scientific talent and literacy we can get.

Our Role

Our predecessor, the Ayrshire Foundation, granted $50,000 to help launch and establish the program.

Why This Grant

The future of the environmental movement depends on having a citizenry that is informed and involved. Sparking students’ interest in science is one of the best ways to make sure that happens. While the Cal Academy’s program is small in scale, its potential impact as a model and a source of talent is huge.