Spending Summers at the Frontiers of Knowledge

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How do Swatties apply their studies in the real world? Education & Sociology major Taryn explains how she engaged local students in learning about their environment, while gaining a better understanding of curriculum development.

Summer Internships, Service, and Research Projects

Enhance Learning in the Classroom

Last summer, both Taryn Colonnese '13 and her students had a chance a to explore what learning is like outside a classroom setting. Instead of desks and chairs, chalk and blackboards, Colonnese used urban gardening as an alternative approach to teaching math, science, and other skills to elementary school students in Chester, Pa. "I've wanted to be a teacher ever since I can remember having a dream job," she says.

Colonnese is one of about 200 students who received support through Swarthmore for summer learning and research projects. From Chester to China, they were engaged in experiences that took them to the frontiers of knowledge outside the traditional classroom.

Neuroscience major Steven Selverian '13 was among them. He collaborated with Professor of Biology Kathleen Siwicki on research into the courtship behavior of Drosophila melanogaster.The highlight of his experience, he says, was "the opportunity to learn from the great faculty members we have here" at Swarthmore.

Whether they are planning careers in research, medicine, or health-care policy, it is important for undergraduate science students like Selvarian to conduct research with faculty and travel to work in leading research labs. Siwicki believes summer research experiences are critical in forming students' decisions to pursue science careers. "You can't learn science without doing science," she says. "Conducting research over the summer is a great opportunity for students to work full-time in the lab."

Other summer experiences, such as internships in business, the arts, law, or politics, help students learn how knowledge works through collaborative learning relationships with practitioners and professionals. Summer study abroad experiences-as well as study-abroad programs undertaken during the academic year-offer opportunities for students to learn about other cultures, develop language fluencies, and broaden their understanding of the world.

Kanayo Onyekwuluje '13 embarked on two separate but related undertakings last summer, one at an archeological dig in Israel and the other at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. His experiences are "going to be applicable to anything I do" after graduation, says Onyekwuluje, who is planning a career in international relations or international peace.

Student summer research and learning experiences receive funding from various sources, including alumni and parents who recognize and support the value they add to a Swarthmore education. Because the demand for these experiences outstrips the number currently available to students, Swarthmore proposes to raise $8 million in new funding for summer research and internships, intensive language study, and study abroad.