April 2020
Monthly News

STEM Teacher Externships on Track for Summer 2020

Fostering Equity in the STEM Classroom

Far Reaching Benefits of STEM BEST

STEM Education through the Pandemic

May 4, 2020 - 10:00 a.m.
Northwest Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting

May 5, 2020 - 1:00 p.m.
STEM BEST Program Application Virtual Support and Q&A

May 11, 2020 - 12:00 p.m.
STEM BEST Program Application Virtual Support and Q&A

May 11, 2020 - 1:00 p.m.
South Central Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting

May 21, 2020 - 11:00 a.m.
Southeast Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting

May 21, 2020 - 12:00 p.m.
Northeast Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting

May 22, 2020 - 12:00 p.m.
North Central Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting

May 27, 2020 - 12:00 p.m.
Southwest Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting
STEM Teacher Externships on Track for Summer 2020
During her 2019 STEM Teacher Externship, Parkview Middle School Mathematics Teacher Genna Kinley helped John Deere with crucial crop management tools and GPS mapping.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our learning environments, workplaces, social gatherings and more. People around the world are looking at things through a new lens and rapidly making adjustments to safely and effectively deliver instructions, products and services in our communities.

The STEM Teacher Externships Program is a sought-after experience for educators to work alongside skilled professionals in Iowa workplaces to gain insight and understanding of how the skills and concepts taught in the classroom translate into careers. Under the current recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Gov. Kim Reynolds, the STEM Council is adapting this program and others to continue to deliver the experience, while ensuring the safety and well-being of externs and workplace hosts.

The STEM Teacher Externship experience will continue to take place over six weeks this summer with the following adjustments:
  • Virtual professional development and orientation meetings will allow educators to continue to collaborate and share experiences.
  • Social distancing measures are being put in place at workplace sites.
  • Alternate projects for educators are being identified for workplace hosts as needed. For example, rather than an outdoors project at a park with an environmental science educator, a computer science educator can assist with web-based projects.
  • Our STEM network team is diligently working to match teacher-externs and hosts this summer and can even begin the conversation for placements in summer 2021.

The application is still open for educators and workplace hosts to apply for a summer experience. For more information or to apply, visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/externships .
Fostering Equity in the
STEM Classroom
Aris Winger, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Mathematics Enrichment for Diversity and Learning (MEDAL), will lead the Fostering Equity in the STEM Classroom professional development workshop where participants will learn equity and inclusion best practices and methods of implementation in STEM education.
Fostering Equity in the STEM Classroom is a professional development experience for educators, administrators and community members prioritizing equity, diversity and inclusion.

Brought to you by the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, this two-day virtual workshop will be facilitated by Aris Winger, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Mathematics Enrichment for Diversity and Learning (MEDAL). Winger is an assistant professor of mathematics at Georgia Gwinnett College and mathematics director at Hybrid Education of Greater Atlanta. He collaborated with Michael Young, assistant professor of mathematics at Iowa State University, and others to develop the Mathematician Affiliates of Color Network, a network of support for students of color who are interested in mathematics. He was also an expert contributor to America’s Strategy for STEM Education .

Winger completed his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Howard University. He earned his Master of Science and Doctoral degrees at Carnegie Mellon University where he discovered a passion for teaching and, specifically, a passion for making mathematics more understandable within the classroom.

“When I enter a classroom I don’t see a classroom of students, I see 25 individuals,” said Winger. “My intent is to connect with students as individuals and adapt my teaching and behavior to make sure they are seen and heard.”

With the belief that small changes compound to large transformations, Winger will guide participants of this professional development experience to think critically about their practice, commit to making changes and implement those changes in a way that is pragmatic and meaningful, culminating in a classroom experience where all students in their classroom will feel seen, valued and validated.

This workshop will be held virtually on June 18 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM and June 19 from 9:00 AM to 1:30 PM for up to 100 participants. Three 60-minute webinars will be scheduled to follow the workshop. Additional registrants will be added to the waitlist and notified if an opening comes available.

Licensure renewal credit is available to participants at no cost, compliments of the STEM Council. Stipends totaling up to $300 per participant will also be available for qualifying individuals.

Far Reaching Benefits
School districts, workplaces and communities interested in an opportunity to apply classroom learning to the workplace still have time to submit an application for the STEM BEST Program. Applications are due June 15, 2020.
Still contemplating applying to become a STEM BEST ( Business Engaging Students and Teachers ) Program? Jeff Grebin from Stanton Community School District, an awardee of the 2019-2020 STEM BEST Program in Southwest Iowa, shares genuine experience in deciding to take the leap and complete an application for STEM BEST Program award.

What was keeping you from applying for the STEM BEST Program?
I think the biggest reason was time. In a K-12 building with just under 250 students, most teachers are committed to one or more extra-curricular activities and numerous preps.

What motivated you to complete the STEM BEST Program application?
The perfect storm. Last spring, our Regional STEM Manager helped me formulate an initial plan to get our school more engaged in STEM activities. Another colleague and I applied for and received a STEM Scale-Up Program award to participate in the week long STEM Innovator class over the summer. We also heard from our Authentic Learning Coordinator from the Area Education Agency (AEA) about all of the STEM-related things going on around the region and we got excited.

What has been a benefit of becoming a STEM BEST Program?
It has given us the little nudge we needed to get some really exciting things happening. The financial support has been huge and investments we are making to strengthen our programs has grabbed the attention of the entire staff. A group in our community has also been looking at ways to get more involved in the school, so it has really opened the doors of communication and rebuilt some relationships. Conversations have continued to grow beyond our initial plans.  

How has the STEM BEST Program benefited your program partners?
Our partners are really excited about the school’s interest in developing partnerships. Each partner brings unique opportunities for our students, and the partners are excited about the possibilities of what it can do for the community beyond their businesses. The projects will help better the experience of people using their service, while providing our students some very authentic learning. 

How has the STEM BEST Program benefited your students?
Students have been put face-to-face with people in the community who make decisions and our students were able to give input and be a part of the process. Students want to be involved in things where they have ownership and responsibility. They want to give back to the community. I have students asking how they can be involved in projects even though they are not in my classes. We (teachers/partners) have answers for that.

What is your best advice to someone who might be “on the fence” to apply? 
JUMP! You’ll land right where your school and community needs you and the ripples of benefits will be far reaching!

Applications for the STEM BEST Program are due June 15, 2020. For more information, visit http://www.iowastem.gov/STEMBEST/application or contact Tanya Hunt at hunt@iowastem.gov .
As many Iowans are faced with the challenges of homebound learning, the STEM Council facilitated a Twitter chat to connect STEM educators and families to each other and to ideas.

There was a whirlwind of insights, resources and information shared from participants in response to the following questions.

  1. What resources are you using to help learn STEM through this homebound period? Many tweeted that they were using video chat services such as Zoom.us and video demonstrations to stay in touch with students and colleagues and tracking tools such as Slack. Others have STEM Facebook groups and Pinterest for idea sharing. For coding, code.org/athome was recommended. For authentic STEM work, the clearinghouse.futurereadyiowa.gov was suggested as a resource for partnering with workplaces on ongoing projects that can be done at home.
  2. How are you solving technology access and capacity challenges? One educator said a Google form link was sent out to parents to find out who had computer or internet access needs. Some school districts have sent printed materials to students at home to ensure they had all the resources available.
  3. What are you doing to make sure young learners of special needs are being served? In large part, it was shared that educator outreach and access to each individual student was necessary to help identify instructional and access needs. Online professional learning events have been compiled by @iowa_aea to equip educators with tools and resources to support all students.
  4. Post-pandemic, how do you think this will affect your professional practices going forward? Many of the participants reported that technology will likely be incorporated more in learning environments in the future, especially when Iowa weather impacts in-person learning opportunities. Others suggested considerations such as involving communities and families more in education, blending learning and practicing STEM skills of collaboration, communication, problem solving and creativity.

Overall, the chat produced 126 hashtag mentions, 123 likes, 109 replies, 56 retweets and 30.6K impressions.

Information about future Twitter chats will be shared on Twitter and Facebook . Follow the STEM Council on our social media channels to stay up to date on STEM happenings in Iowa.
Contact the Iowa STEM Operations Center by phone at (319) 273-2959
or by email at info@IowaSTEM.gov.