Georgia Tech Teacher Summer Internship Program Works to Build a Future in STEM Careers for Students in Middle Georgia

Macon County High School Educator Gains Real-World Experience to Bring Back to Her Classroom and Receives 2020 Paul A. Duke GIFT Action Plan Award from Georgia Tech

Americus, Georgia, August 21, 2020 - Under the Georgia Institute of Technology  Georgia Intern Fellowships for Teachers (GIFT) program, Macon County High School educator, Twinkle Mark, participated in an internship at South Georgia Technical College. Industrial Systems Technology Instructor, Patrick Owen at South Georgia Technical College, served as her mentor. The college is located approximately 130 miles south of Atlanta in the town of Americus, Georgia.

The GIFT program, coordinated by the Georgia Tech Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC), provides STEM immersion internships for K-12 teachers designed to help educators gain skills to expand students' minds and encourage them to pursue post-secondary careers in the STEM fields.

"With it expanded emphasis on rural communities, Georgia Tech, through GIFT continues to provide unique professional development opportunities for teachers," said Lizanne DeStefano, CEISMC executive director.

During the four-week program, Mark was able to complete her virtual remote learning experience in technical and education opportunities using fluid power mechanics and their functions in industrial settings. She learned how to analyze and troubleshoot hydraulic pumps, actuators, flow control and check valves, and pressure control valves. She expressed her appreciation to South Georgia Technical College and Owen for mentoring her.

She will now take the knowledge and experience that she learned and share it with her Macon County High School physics, chemistry, and physical science classes. She will incorporate hands-on activities utilizing hydraulics, hydraulics in Circuits, and the effect of pressure on hydraulics systems. "The students will be able to see these types of educational concepts in practice," said Mark. "By sharing with students how and why this information is important and how theory works in the real world, I believe it will help them learn and retain knowledge."

Mark completed an online course embedded with virtual instructions by working for at least eight hours a day, which included developing a lesson plan utilizing her newly acquired knowledge. She met with Owen in his Industrial Systems classroom and laboratory. Mark also participated in GIFT internships at South Georgia Technical College twice before. She worked with a retired Industrial Systems Technology instructor, Phil Deese, where she learned about the parts, functions, and developing programs for robots. She also helped implement STEM programs with middle school students.

During her second summer internship, she participated in virtual labs. She learned how to incorporate safety protocols, worked with AC/DC electrical systems using electrical measurements made with galvanometers. She also explored Ohm's Law, measured voltage, current, and resistance in series and parallel circuits did circuit analysis and learned about inductance, and capacitance.

Having participated in those prior summer internships, Mark was eligible to compete for GIFT awards honoring teachers who had developed and implemented outstanding lesson plans based on their internship experiences. Mark was awarded the 2020 third-place Paul A. Duke GIFT Action Plan Award for the lesson she developed as a required assignment of the fellowship.

Mark believes her participation in GIFT has helped increase the number of Macon County students enrolling at South Georgia Technical College and other colleges and universities. She sees improvements in critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which improve her students' SAT, ACT, science scores on end of course milestones. Her schools' college and career ready performance index also increased.

"The fields of science and engineering are mutually supportive, and scientists and engineers often work together in teams, especially in fields at the borders of science and engineering," said Mark. "Together, advances in science, engineering, and technology can have – and indeed have had – profound effects on human society in such areas as agriculture, transportation, health care, and communication and on the natural environment."

"Mrs. Mark is the type of teacher who goes above and beyond to enhance her own knowledge so that she can further inspire her students. It is an honor to support her. We welcome being able to collaborate with South Georgia Technical College to provide these opportunities." said Bonnie Harris, GIFT program director.

More information about the Georgia Tech Georgia Intern Fellowships for Teachers (GIFT) Program can be found at or contact The GIFT program director, Bonnie Harris (

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  • Patrick Owen (South Georgia Technical College) and Twinkle Mark (Macon County High School) During the 2020 Summer Georgia Tech GIFT Program

For More Information Contact

Bonnie F. Harris
Director, Strategic Partnerships
Program Director, Georgia Intern-Fellowships for Teachers (GIFT)
Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC)
Office of the Provost
Georgia Institute of Technology
817 West Peachtree Street, NW, Suite 300
Atlanta, GA 30308 USA