STEM Teacher Externs Translate Industry Experience to Classroom

Blake Fehringer of Le Mars Community Schools worked at Interstates and Ayn Thoreson of Spencer High School worked at GKN this su
Blake Fehringer of Le Mars Community Schools and Ayn Thoreson of Spencer High School at their externship locations.

As the 2021 STEM Teacher Externships Program winds down, 70 Iowa STEM Teacher Externs are preparing to incorporate their summer work experience into classrooms across Iowa this fall. 

Blake Fehringer, an industrial technology teacher at Le Mars Community Schools, worked at Interstates Electrical on programming software and functionalities for a grain bin to receive, dry and load product and show operations and complications. 

“I believe that inspiring the love of learning begins with sparking a student’s interest. One way to spark students’ interest is to relate the content you are teaching to the real world. If you can show students the real-world application of the content, the easier it will be to motivate them to dig deeper into the content,” said Fehringer.

Heather Wiley, a science teacher at Bettendorf High School, worked as an analytical chemist at QC Metallurgical, where she was trained to analyze samples for various components including ions and heavy metals. 

“I was challenged and liked being able to ask questions of real world scientists in terms of what content knowledge they use on a daily basis and what skills they would have liked to have more exposure to during their education to prepare them for their careers. My biggest take away from the whole experience is that problem solving is key. Providing students with problems and encouraging them to attack them collaboratively by using their knowledge to help them work through it methodically mimics real world experiences,” said Wiley.

For more information about the STEM Teacher Externships Program or to apply for the 2022 summer program, visit

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