Rachel Hobbs and J. Andrew Cormier: Secondary education students intern at Challenger Learning Center

Rachel Hobbs and J. Andrew Cormier
Rachel Hobbs and J. Andrew Cormier

Rachel Hobbs and J. Andrew Cormier spent their summers as interns at the Challenger Learning Center of Maine in Bangor, working with youth in STEM-focused summer camp programs with the hope of encouraging campers to aspire to higher education and careers in these fields.

Hobbs, of Presque Isle, Maine, is a fifth-year secondary education major with a concentration in life science.

“My love for science is what originally drew me to this field. The hope of using my passion for scientific research and growth of understanding to ignite a desire to explore science in my future students drives me through my education journey,” she says.

Cormier, of Walpole, Massachusetts, is a senior double major in secondary education and physics, with a minor in mathematics.

Cormier found his passion for teaching when he was involved with the Boy Scouts in middle and high school, and realized his favorite part was teaching new skills to the younger scouts at meetings and on trips.

“I was fascinated with learning how the universe around us works and I wanted to share my knowledge and excitement with people who do not know about it. So I decided that I wanted to teach physics at the high school level,” Cormier says.

Hobbs began her internship in fall 2018, working with after-school programs and community outreach events, and continued through the summer. Cormier joined the program in January.

This summer, the pair helped run the nine weeks of camp programs at the center, lesson planning and teaching on topics related to science, technology, engineering and math. Theme weeks included “Robot Tech,” which involved coding, 3D printing, simulations, robotic programming and engineering challenges; and “Astronaut Academy” with activities like designing prototypes of Mars habitats, flying a simulated mission, talking with NASA mission controllers and building teamwork skills.

“The most interesting part of my internship is the variety of exposure it has provided me with,” says Hobbs. “Since beginning at Challenger I have had a chance to explore more technology through understanding more about the processes of computer programming and coding, 3D printing and space exploration. I have also had opportunities to interact and work with an incredible network of people involved in NASA research, operation and exploration. The experiences I have had will be carried with me into my teaching career and I am grateful for them.”

When not in the classroom, Hobbs spends as much time as possible outside.

“Maine is such an incredibly beautiful state and I enjoy exploring all it has to offer. A perfect day off is spent hiking, reading and enjoying Maine’s beautiful coast,” she says.

“UMaine has been an ideal place for me to begin my career. The university views both science and the arts as highly important. During my time at UMaine pursuing my degree as an educator, I have learned how education is both an art and a science, and being able to see this philosophy reflected in the university is encouraging to me as a student,” says Hobbs.

Cormier also has had some beneficial takeaways from the internship. “I have had the opportunity to work with an excellent team of coworkers who elevate both my and the students’ experiences to the next level,” he says. “The most interesting part so far is seeing how much information the students are able to learn. They come into the CLC with an eagerness to learn information and leave with so much more knowledge than they had before. I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything.”

Outside the classroom, Cormier performs in shows with the Improv In Sanity group on campus, and belongs to the UMaine chapter of the Society of Physics Students.

“Both of these amazing organizations have given me connections with a large group of people that have enhanced my UMaine experience exponentially,” he says.

“I love UMaine because it supports its students’ passions and career opportunities. UMaine has allowed me to branch out as an individual in both my career choices and my interests,” says Cormier. “I also enjoy the close-knit community that UMaine provides. I can say with certainty that every one of my professors has provided me with opportunities for growth both inside and outside of their classes. I encourage people to take advantage of the opportunities UMaine provides as well as any professional development opportunities. The CLC has given me priceless information, skills and experiences. I hope everyone can find an opportunity like this to help them in this way.”

Contact: Cleo Barker, 207.581.3729