Next Generation Geologic Science Educator (DHA)

 In Mosaics in Science
The DHA Resource Assistant internship (DHA-RA) is a unique internship opportunity within the Department of the Interior (DOI). The objective is to build a pathway to employment in the DOI for exemplary students in higher education.  DHA-RA interns will apply natural resource science expertise to NPS management and build a network with federal employees throughout the internship. These rigorous internships require specialized expertise and typically are available to upper level undergraduate or graduate students or recent graduates. The internships are designed to develop the participant's technical and creative thinking abilities, leadership skills, and problem-solving capabilities.  DHA-RA interns will receive a weekly stipend of $480, park-provided housing or a housing allowance, and paid travel expenses.  DHA-RA interns who successfully complete the internship requirements receive a 2-year eligibility period starting from the date of their degree during which they can be non-competitively hired by the DOI. Successful completion of the internship does not guarantee that the participant will be hired in to a federal position.  

The DHA-RA internship is focused on full representation of women and participants from Historically Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific Islander, and Native American schools or other schools with diverse student populations. In order to be eligible for a DHA–RA Internship, applicants must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent legal resident ("green-card-holder”) and enrolled or within one year of graduating from an institution of higher education.  

Position Description: This project enables the park and partners to prototype a new approach to engaging Boston Public School students in STEM explorations that foster exchanges of information among students, teachers, scientists and public land managers.  The project involves working with teachers to understand learning objectives and student needs, and then using recent geologic research findings, GIS and other digital technologies, hands-on science exploration and online story mapping in ways that allow students to access, use and generate scientific data and discoveries.

This Science Education internship will function within the context of an established educational partnership between Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center (TIOBEC) and Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park (BHI).  Specifically, the work of the intern will support Summer Connections, a five-week summer program focused on reversing summer learning loss in English Language Arts and Math through hands-on, placebased science exploration.  Summer Connections serves 60-72 rising 5th and 6th grade students from Boston 

Public Schools. For the purposes of this internship, the intern will work with teachers and NPS and TIOBEC educators and natural resource managers to prototype a dynamic new teaching model with one cohort of rising sixth graders (25 students).

Project Goals: The intern will develop and utilize GIS skills in two ways: 1) establishing a geodatabase of sitespecific geological information with curriculum-based lessons used by park education programs, and 2) enhancing the educational objectives of the project for the learning community through ArcGIS Online tools, including a Story Map.

The intern will use standard ArcGIS software to create a geodatabase that will serve as an archive of site-specific geological information for park education programs. The primary reference document that will be used to inform the creation of the geodatabase will be the Boston Harbor Islands Geologic Resources Inventory, published by the NPS Geologic Resources Division (2016). This document and associated map data is a treasure trove of georeferenced photos, plain–language descriptions, and context about the diverse geologic resources of the park. The resulting geologic education geodatabase will also be an important reference for park interpreters and a handy tool to inspire future geologic research and monitoring in the park.

In order to make the most of the geologic information in the geodatabase as a tool for enhancing education programs, the intern will utilize ArcGIS Online to develop a Story Map that will allow students, teachers, park partners, families and friends to easily navigate through engaging layers that document their learning experiences. These layers will be embedded in an authoritative map that can be modified and shared using standard GIS files and software. The intern will work with the students to integrate student-generated content so they feel ownership of the project and will be excited to share it with friends, families, and educators within Boston's teaching and learning community.

The Story Map developed by this intern will include (1) a project overview with geo-tagged learning locations within the park, (2) tables, charts and photos that tell the story of the investigation — presenting the student questions, data collected, results and conclusions, (3) highly localized maps of each project site with embedded photos, videos or web links, and (4) student-generated narratives (blogs) that are shared via social media. The Story Map will enable teachers to link to the project and park from their classrooms; students will be able to share their experiences and pose questions and respond to the posts of others from their phones and home or classroom computers – thereby cultivating an authentic community of learners.  The intern will also be encouraged to explore the use of other ArcGIS Online tools and applications to enhance data visualizations for the project as part of his or her learning experience.  

Working as a GIS and geology information liaison between teachers and students (and their friends and families) on the one hand, and park educators and resource managers on the other hand, will require high level creativity and problem solving. The DHA Resource Assistant will learn how to translate information about glacial features in clear and understandable narratives, graphics and maps (e.g. drumlins, kettle holes, glacial till, various kinds of bedrock, and bedrock features such as faults and dikes). The Resource Assistant will spend time in the field, classroom and park offices, getting to know the partners, and will work together with the partners to critique and improve draft products through the summer.  

The product resulting from this internship experience will set the stage for building a menu of citizen science learning experiences that activate the Boston Harbor Islands as an authentic learning laboratory and cast urban youth in the roles of scientific data users and producers.

This position is offered through the National Park Service's Mosaics in Science Internship Program in partnership with Environment for the Americas and Greening Youth Foundation. 

Work Products: The following products and materials will be developed as a result of this Mosaics in Science internship:

  • Place-based, citizen science teaching unit that engages BPS middle school students in authentic, handson science using harbor island resources, data, experiences and digital communication tools.  
  • Geodatabase that will serve as an archive of site-specific geological information for park education programs, interpretative programming, and to facilitate further geologic research and monitoring. The primary source for the geodatabase will be the 2016 Boston Harbor Islands Geologic Resources Inventory.
  • ArcGIS Online Story Map (authoritative map) that will capture the places, site specific investigations/findings and experiences of students engaged in the Summer Connections education program.

Physical/Natural Environment: The Boston Harbor Islands are situated in the broad "C” shape of Boston Harbor, set in the northeast temperate climate zone. Summer temperatures range from the 70s to the 90s, with periods of high humidity. Rain in the summer is sporadic and largely in the form of showers and thunderstorms. The entire park is close to sea level, though there are a number of low hills on various islands.  

The office is in downtown Boston, with very easy access through the well-developed public transit system. Transit to the islands is via a number of piers in downtown Boston and occasionally via piers in other coastal towns. There are food markets and lots of restaurants and other services near the office and the potential housing. The co-mentors will provide detailed orientation materials to make sure the Resource Assistant is comfortable with the transportation and living logistics.

Work Environment: The selected candidate is expected to work in the field with experienced science educators, supporting curriculum-based environmental lessons for rising 6th grade Boston Public School students in a summer learning program.  The MIS intern will be expected to assist with group engagement throughout programs, supporting student learning throughout the programs in collaboration with a diverse partnership team made up of National Park Service scientists and educators, Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center facilitators and Boston Public school teachers.

Duties will take place on Thompson Island (3 days/week) and in the office in downtown Boston (2 days/week).  Field work involves travel by boat three days per week to an island, with programs taking place in various ecosystems including salt marshes, meadows and tide pools; and under varied climate conditions including high heat, direct sun exposure, heavy winds, rain, etc. Demonstrated stamina for working in mild to extreme field conditions is required.

Mentoring:  This internship reflects the park's commitment to working across disciplines, and as such the intern will be mentored by both the park's Director of Natural Resources Stewardship and Science and the park's Director of Education, with weekly check-in meetings to ensure active exchange. This co-mentoring model ensures that there will be active exchange of resource and science information within the context of sound pedagogy and instructional design that takes into account and actively engages all learning styles. In addition, the intern will have access to technical support from the Northeast Region GIS specialist and the park's education specialist, and opportunities to work with BPS teachers, curriculum specialists, a team of informal science educators, community leaders and scientists currently engaged in harbor islands research.  The intern will be one of fifteen post-secondary interns working in the park this summer. As such, the park will provide a coordinated orientation for all interns, opportunities to shadow staff from a variety of directorates and an opportunity to participate in a collective impact capstone project with other interns (focus TBD).

Learning Goals: Upon completion of the internship, the incumbent will be able to:

  • effectively use ArcGIS Online data visualization tools;
  • effectively use ArcMap standard GIS software to create a geodatabase;
  • provide teachers, students and park managers with step-by-step instructions for accessing and using the geodatabase and populating the Story Map;
  • describe the pedagogy, instructional design principles and facilitation techniques used to authentically engage at-risk, middle level learners through place-based explorations, scientific inquiry/investigation and digital communication;
  • bring his or her experience from this project into collaborations with teachers, scientists and aspiring science educators who are interested in engaging urban youth in authentic, place-based, teaching and learning that cultivates scientific literacy, civic engagement and sense of wonder.

Leadership Development: The project supervisor in collaboration with the selected DHA intern will develop a Mentoring and Leadership Development Plan catered to the intern's specific interests and skills. The intern will work closely with an assigned mentor who will work to foster success with training and project goals. Additional NPS training opportunities will be made available as time and schedules allow.

The intern will develop a project plan in consultation with his/her mentors. The plan will include project goals, measurable objectives, rubrics for assessing elements of the project portfolio and a timetable for design, development and delivery/completion of all aspects of the project, including stakeholder engagement and reporting.  

The intern will meet with the mentors at the end of each week to review accomplishments, discuss progress, identify outstanding issues or hot spots and deliberate possible action items. The intern will use information from these conversations to set a work plan for the following week with an eye toward supporting or consciously/rationally deviating from the original project time table.  

The intern will keep a reflective journal in which to record daily observations, looking specifically to capture thoughts on the relationship between theory and practice, the pros/cons of using evaluation as a planning tool (challenges/assets of rapid prototyping in a partnership setting), strategies and techniques for dynamic problem solving and student input/feedback on scientific investigations and associated Story Map.

Finally, the intern will utilize his or her geologic education information to be part of developing and hosting a freshman orientation project in August for the UMass Boston Honors College. He or she will assist with planning through the summer in collaboration with the Dean, staff, and student leaders at UMass, and the park partner team to craft a meaningful service learning and park exploration project for 100+ incoming students.  

Presenting Project Results: The intern will develop, share and refine communication tools that link scientific information to students, educators and park managers (and link student – derived experiential information to the learning community) throughout the project, and will also be expected to present project products and outcomes to groups associated with the National Parks of Boston and the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership. As a model city for the NPS Urban Agenda, the parks and NPS programs based in Boston are actively working together to fulfill the Urban Agenda goals of relevancy, one NPS, and a culture of collaboration; this internship project will fit in perfectly with these goals. 

The intern will give a presentations about the project to at least four sets of important park partner groups. These will include:

  • A brown bag lunch presentation in the Northeast Region Support Office in Boston (the duty station for the Deputy Regional Director, the Olmsted Center for Landscape Planning, and many of the National Parks of Boston staff).
  • A Boston Harbor Islands Partnership meeting, which is the federally designated operating committee that facilitates collaborative planning and management for the park, and includes voting members such as the Commissioner of the Massachusetts state parks, the Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard district, and the Chief of the City of Boston's environment department.
  • Working with students, the intern will share the Story Map with BPS parents and school administrators during the Summer Connections graduation in mid-August, and will present the project with 1-2 students and participating teachers as part of BPS's Principal Leadership seminar in late August. This will provide an opportunity for the intern to discuss the role of mentoring and designing science and dynamic thinking models alongside BPS students and their teachers and administrators.
  • The UMass Boston Honors College freshman orientation. The intern will share important geologic information derived from his/her project work as part of their day of orientation and service on the islands. The audience will include the students, UMass program faculty and support staff, and park management partners. 

  • GIS and GPS coursework and field experience.
  • Undergraduate degree with a course of study in the environmental sciences.
  • Demonstrated experience and/or stated interest in science communication.
  • Demonstrated experience and/or stated interest in place-based education.
  • Demonstrated experience and/or stated interest in working in parks in an urban setting.
  • Demonstrated experience working effectively in a partnership setting.
  • Intercultural competence, including the ability to communicate effectively with people who have different worldviews, experiences, perspectives and patterns of communication.

Prior to starting this position a government security background clearance will be required.  

Applicant must have a valid driver's license and a good driving record. A personal vehicle is not required but desirable. Park offices and island gateways are readily accessible by public transportation or on foot. Driving is desirable for getting to off-site field locations with the resource stewardship team (developmental opportunities) and/or to scientific field stations on the south shore.

Park housing may be available at a nominal cost pending availability. Park housing consists of a private bedroom, group kitchen and living area in an historic building (marine barracks) in Charlestown Navy Yard (harbor view). Easy access to the public transportation (ferry, subway, bus). If housing space is not available, a housing stipend would be requested to help defray costs for other local shared housing (short-term rental units).

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Greening Youth Foundation (GYF, is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization whose mission is to nurture environmental stewardship among diverse youth and young adults, while exposing them to conservation careers.
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