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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. Since 2004, over 200 high school students have worked in research labs in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences and learned about the process of science first hand. We offer several different options, with different areas of focus and time commitments. Applicants can apply to more than one option and must indicate what they want to be considered for.

Options: more details

Agriculture - Work at the farm and learn about sustainable agriculture

Biodiversity - Collect and analyze data to understand past and current trends in evolution and extinction

Environment - Work one on one with a researcher in an environmental research groups

Geology - Work one-on-one with a scientist in one of the geology laboratories

The Agriculture Option

At the O’Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm, six high school interns support farmers and researchers each summer. Students work on the farm planting, weeding and harvesting alongside our farmers, as well as participating in on-farm research.  The farm provides an excellent learning environment to think about sustainable small-scale and urban agriculture. Interns work in the morning, five days per week, Monday through Friday at 8:00 am to 1:00 pm.

The Biodiversity Option

The Young Investigators: Biodiversity gives 20 high school students an opportunity to learn about the methods used by modern paleobiologists. High school interns become the scientists who study the relationship between environmental change and biological evolution over thousands, millions, and billions of years. Students gather data to help answer important scientific questions such as how animal body size has evolved over 3.8 billion year history of life on Earth; the causes and consequences of the planet’s major extinction events; and why some species go extinct while others survive. Interns work with the Paleobiology research group for the entire summer. They work for 30 hours per week; Monday through Friday 9 am to 4 pm.

The Environment and Geology Options

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 learn how quickly an earthquake fault is moving. The projects in these options are different every summer.

Interns are assigned to work with one research group for the entire summer in these two options. Interns work for 15-30 hours per week, on a schedule determined with individual supervisors. We expect to have 5-10 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 is closed.
Here is a blank form of the 2016 application so that you know what is required when you begin your application Application2016_0.pdf

by February 1, 2016: Application Available
March 22, 2016: Applications Due
March 29, 2016: Letter of Recommendation Due
About May 1, 2016: Acceptance letters sent out
Tuesday, June 14, 2016: First day of Internships
Wednesday, August 3, 2016: Final Presentations

Young Investigators 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. Interns must live and go to high school in the San Francisco Bay Area.  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.