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Stanford Earth Young Investigators

High School Internships

At the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, high school students spend the summer working in research laboratories. The students become involved in existing research projects and are supervised directly by graduate students, post docs and lab managers. This program enables graduate students to serve as supervisors, prepares high schools students for college and helps strengthen the connections between Stanford and local high schools.  We offer two different programs—the general internship and the history of life internship. Applicants can only apply to one program and must select the one that they want to be considered for. 

History of Life Internship program

The History of Life Internships gives 20 high school students an opportunity to do real science. Interns will learn about the methods used by modern paleobiologists, scientists who study the relationship between environmental change and biological evolution over thousands, millions, and billions of years.

Students will participate in projects where they will help gather data to help answer important scientific questions such as how animal body size has evolved over life’s long history on Earth; the causes and consequences of the planet’s major extinction events; and why some species go extinct while others survive. They might discover, as one intern did, that some long-held “rules” about evolution are more akin to guidelines and that exceptions do occur.

In the History of life internship program, interns work with the Paleobiology research group for the entire summer. They work for 30 hours per week. Twenty students are accepted into this program. Homepage for History of Life Internships

General Earth Sciences Internship program

Since 2004, nearly 200 high school students have worked in research labs in Earth Sciences and learned about the process of science first hand. Interns have examined the geochemistry of sediments in Bangladesh to understand arsenic in groundwater; discovered the past history of the oceans by analyzing coral skeletons; and dated rocks gathered from streambeds in Palm Springs to discover how quickly an earthquake fault is moving. The projects are different every summer. 

In the general internship program, interns are assigned to work with one research group for the entire summer. Applicants can indicate which field of study (for example, agriculuture, geology, environmental science, geochemistry, oceanography, etc.) they are interested in working in. Interns work for 15-30 hours per week, on a schedule determined with individual supervisors. We expect to have 10-15 positions each summer.

Application Information:

The high school internship program is an annual program. The application is released in late January and is due March. You will find the application on this page at that time. Late applications are not considered; there are always more qualified students than placements. Make sure you read this - more about the options. 

The 2016 Application will open in February, most likely.
Here is a blank form of the 2015 application so that you know what is required when you begin your application  InternshipApplication2015.pdf.

March 22, 2015: Applications Due
March 29, 2015: Letter of Support Due
About May 1, 2015: Acceptance letters sent out
Tuesday, June 16, 2015: First day of Internships
Wednesday, August 5, 2015: Final Presentations

Interns are expected to work during regular working hours during the week. On Wednesdays, all interns meet for lectures, activities and field trips. These activities are supplemental, and are offered to provide extended learning. Please check Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Blog by recent high school interns.

Read about the professional meeting that some interns participate in.

Please check the Frequently Asked Questions section before the student who is interested calls or sends an email. Parents are encouraged to let students ask their own questions.

What high school interns have said about their experience

  • I loved actually analyzing the data and seeing if the experiment worked out in the end. To see if all of the hard work finally paid off in the end was very gratifying.
  • I learned the overall process of working in a lab and the details of a graduate project. I enjoyed working under the lab hoods.
  • I've never worked in a lab before and I wanted to experience doing that, and also wanted to put the knowledge I learned in school into a realistic context.
  • I... became more confident in the usage of chemicals.

If students have further questions, high school students should contact Jennifer Saltzman via email or or call her at (650)725-2410. Parents are encouraged to let students ask their own questions. We want mature interns.