Pinhead Internships Can Change Students’ Lives
by Samuel Adams
Oct 31, 2013 | 1986 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PINHEAD DIRECTOR Sonchia Jilek teaches Pinhead students how to make vehicles powered by spring coils in the non-profit's new headquarters at the bottom of Lift 7. The Pinhead Institute, a Smithsonian affiliate, also offers regional high school students with summer-long internships each year across the world. (Photo by Samuel Adams)
PINHEAD DIRECTOR Sonchia Jilek teaches Pinhead students how to make vehicles powered by spring coils in the non-profit's new headquarters at the bottom of Lift 7. The Pinhead Institute, a Smithsonian affiliate, also offers regional high school students with summer-long internships each year across the world. (Photo by Samuel Adams)
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TELLURIDE – Telluride High School student Cirkine Sherry spent this past summer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying neuroscience. Ouray High School’s Julia Vann spent her summer at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Center for AIDS Research, working under leading researchers to help eradicate AIDS. THS student Jon Young worked at MIT’s Aerospace Robotics and Embedded Systems Laboratory in the cutting-edge field of designing artificial intelligence applications for robots.

These are only a few of the regional high school students who completed summer internships coordinated by Telluride’s Pinhead Institute, a nonprofit Smithsonian affiliate that has offered regional students education opportunities in science, math and technology since 2003.

Since Pinhead’s founding, it has grown considerably, and last month moved into spacious new headquarters at the bottom of Lift 7 in Telluride. From here, Pinhead offers education programs to students in Ridgway, Ouray, Telluride, Naturita, Nucla and Norwood.

The internship programs are among its most popular. “These internships are life-changing,” said Director Sonchia Jilek. “I’m so thrilled to have the opportunity to work with these kids and scientists to make these internships happen.”

Pinhead’s affiliation with the Smithsonian Institute offers a wide network of scientists, universities and museums to work with, although Jelik arranges many of the internships by connecting the organizations and the interns herself.

After reaching out to universities and museums to secure the internship study opportunities, Jelik and her team work to set up the Pinhead interns with housing, which can be tricky to coordinate in metropolitan areas like Boston and Washington, D.C. Interns receive a $1,000 scholarship to help with expenses.

Many Pinhead interns continue working in the same field upon graduating from high school. For example,  2010 Pinhead intern and Nucla High School alum Brandon Morgan was accepted to Yale University, thanks to his Pinhead internship at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Norwood High School student, Chris Anderson was accepted to Harvard University due in large part to completing two botany-centered Pinhead internships at Harvard.

Being a Pinhead intern is a responsibility. “There are certain expectations of the student while they’re gone,” Jilek said. “In addition to demonstrating good behavior, the student must file weekly reports for our online blog, and they need to articulate how they’re using science during the internship. They must also give a public presentation sharing their experience.”

The 2013 interns will present at Rustico Restaurante in Telluride on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. To learn more about Pinhead’s internship program and application process, visit www.pinheadinstitute.org/k12_internship.htm

 

Pinhead in the classroom:

 

Jilek also uses her connections to attract leading PhD scientists to interact with students and display how they use the scientific method in their fields, which often include presentations about nanoscience, biochemistry, climatology and more.

“We try to bring a diversity of scholars to the schools so we can show that science isn’t done by just an old guy in a lab coat,” Jilek said. “We want to show that science is done everywhere, by many different people.”  

“I think Pinhead has evolved in a remarkably fine direction,” said Pinhead founder Nana Naisbitt, who now directs the Telluride Science Research Center, which explores the frontier field of molecular science. TSRC regularly hosts meetings of the world’s leading scientists in this expanding field, and offers Pinhead many opportunities to have these scientists present at the schools in the region.

“With our new location at Lift 7, our long-term vision is to create a science center,” said Jilek. “Down the road, we’d like to see it develop into a technology center, where students can do everything from dissect frogs to learn computer programming skills – we want this to be a comfortable place where kids can go to learn.”

For now, Pinhead has many fall and winter offerings for youngsters looking to learn more about science. The “Spooktacular Science” Mad Lab series will be held at Pinhead’s headquarters on October 30, and will cost $12 per student. Parents can also sign their children up for the No School Science Project on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 3:30 p.m. at Telluride’s Wilkinson Public Library, and another after-school program on Friday, Dec. 13 at 1 p.m. at the Naturita Public Library, and 3:30 p.m. at the Norwood Public Library. The No School Science Projects are free.

For a complete list of upcoming Pinhead education events, visit www.pinheadinstitute.org.

Contact Sonchia Jilek at info@pinheadinstitute.org for more information.
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