LC High School science and engineering teacher, Chris Davis, connects his curriculum to industry operations through externship experience 

Written by:
Chris Davis, Lewis and Clark High School
Jeremy Schrooten, Pyrotek

In the spring of 2018, local educator, Chris Davis, attended a Teaching the Teachers workshop hosted by local Spokane and global engineering leader, Pyrotek. Five individuals from Pyrotek's team talked to Davis and a few other local educators about their company, their daily roles, and helpful knowledge that may be beneficial for their students to know and connect to their classroom learning. Immediately, Davis was hooked. Learning about Pyrotek's battery making process at their new lab in the WSU Innovation Center directly connected with his battery unit he teaches in his classroom at LC. At the end of the workshop, Davis connected with Jeremy Schrooten, Global Product Manager and Development Engineer, to ask about the possibility of participating in a 4-day externship experience during the summer. Jeremy gladly accepted and the externship was built! Chris and Jeremy reflect on their experience below.

Chris shares about his externship experience:
I broke my externship into 2 separate 2 day periods that were 2 weeks apart. The first day was really a meet the crew, and get a recap of the process. In following day, I felt more confident taking a hands on roll with some of the trouble shooting (I am experienced with machines), but decided to just watch most of the slurry creation (I have little lab/chemistry experience). Jeremy was an amazing resource. He answered all of my questions about the process and about the chemistry. During lunch, I picked his brain about about tons of other topics ranging from the economy, to hiring people, to working in different regions, to predictions about the future of batteries, etc.  He is both incredibly patient and incredibly knowledgeable. I really got a feel for the industry of R and D engineering. I was even impressed with how knowledgeable and hard working his interns are. They let me watch over their shoulder and pester them with relentless questions about every aspect of every step. They shared the rational for each step, but also the goals and tough lessons learned. All were very open and I came out a much wiser man. I really appreciate that I received such a great technical experience in the realm of how batteries work and how they are built, as well as a great industry experience from both the lab directors and the students that are still working on their degrees. I hope to continue the relationship that I have with Jeremy and plan to get him into my classroom once or twice this coming year too.

Jeremy shares about his experience in hosting Chris:
For me, the value is in providing experiences and tools that Chris can take back to the classroom to excite and motivate students.  I visit classrooms and participate in career days and job shadows to show kids the types of careers available in science and engineering.  It’s very rewarding to see the excitement as they connect the things their teachers talk about to real world needs.  Science and math can be really boring if we don’t show them what we can do with it.  

Opportunities to bring educators into the industry setting to connect directly with professionals enhances their curriculum knowledge and provides them with greater tools to better lead and teach their students. If you are an educator in the Spokane region wanting to connect with business through a workshop, be sure to check out this year's Teaching the Teachers schedule (to be posted by early September). If you are a business looking to host a workshop or externship opportunity, you may contact Career Connected Learning Program Manager, Cassidy Peterson at cpeterson@greaterspokane.org.