Wrap Up of Iowa STEM Evaluation Grant  

Iowa's Statewide STEM Initiative Model Blueprint (Figure 7 in Kemis, M., Polush, E., Gillon, K., & Lopez, A.L. (2017). Iowa Statewide STEM Initiative-Process Evaluation. Ames, IA: Iowa State University, Research Institute for Studies in Education.)

In 2013 an Iowa research consortium landed a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study the state's unfolding statewide STEM initiative in order to derive lessons for other states and regions. Best practice in evaluating systemic STEM was the over-arching goal of this first-of-its-kind award from the NSF. The "Iowa STEM Education Evaluation (I-SEE) project had several key components: 1) A process evaluation that examined what we do, how and by whom; 2) A web-based data portal for collecting artifacts and evidence; 3) A survey of adult Iowans regarding what's perceived to be important; 4) Asset identification, or a STEM inventory; and 5) A meta-evaluation, or a study of the study itself, for logic and validity.
The history and progress of Iowa STEM was systematically dissected. Documents, records and protocols were exhaustively scrutinized. Stakeholders were widely and meticulously interviewed. Resources were painstakingly catalogued. And now, so many findings, observations and results make up a major report of lessons learned in Iowa. Not only has Iowa's progress been dramatically enhanced as a result of on-going feedback from the research team, but many beyond the state stand to benefit from the work as well.
Iowans owe a debt of gratitude, indeed STEM leaders across the U.S. owe thanks, to the researchers who undertook this study: Dr. Erin Heiden, project manager at the University of Northern Iowa's Center for Social and Behavioral Research (CSBR), Mari Kemis, director of Iowa State University's Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE), and Dr. Don Yarbrough, former director and founder of the University of Iowa's Center for Evaluation and Assessment (CEA). The team's complete findings will be integrated into the STEM Council's annual evaluation report to be presented at the Governor's weekly press conference on October 2, 2017, on the morning of the next meeting of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council. For more information about the I-SEE project or the upcoming presentation e-mail
I-SEE was funded by the National Science Foundation Mathematics and Science Partnership grant program, number DRL-1238211.
September 15, 2017 - 5 p.m.
STEM BEST Proposals Due
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October 6, 2017 - 5 p.m.
I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award Nominations Due
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Iowa STEM Operations Center
University of Northern Iowa
214 East Bartlett
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0298
PHONE 319-273-2959

Teachers "...take the flavor of work back to their students" through Externships

Nearly 400 educators have spent their summers in business, industry, and other workplaces sprinkled across Iowa through the Externships program of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council.

Zoom in for a close-up look at Externships of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council and you will find a mathematics teacher committing six summer weeks to learn data analytics with the Intelligent Solutions Group at John Deere's Urbandale facility. A skill set coined "the new competitive differentiator," data analytics "...has clearly moved from being an optional operational element to serving as the core of corporate activities" according to a recent Forbes magazine article. This fall, a middle school algebra class in Cedar Rapids will try out data analytics as their teacher brings the new skill back to the classroom, making meaning and sense (finally, for some!) out of quadratic equations and polynomials.
Zoom out for the landscape of Externships that have involved nearly 400 teachers of science, technology and mathematics immersed in over 150 workplaces spread across the state since 2009. Participants consistently rank their summer externship as their most powerful professional development experience, and business partners consistently attribute significant workplace gains (both in problems solved and money saved) to teacher-externs. A model public-private partnership, industry hosts split the tab for bringing on a summer extern (indeed some partners absorb the full cost to host). Most match-ups become on-going school-business alliances, and most teachers anchor their lessons to their real-world experience for years beyond the externship. Replicas of Iowa's Externship model have sprung up in Central Florida, Tulsa, Kansas City and elsewhere across the country as word has gotten out.
As David Jahn, forester for Des Moines Public Works and ardent host and partner for externships put it, teachers "...take the flavor of work, no matter what the skillset, back to their students and they can relay those things to them because students at all levels are looking for that future career, that future opportunity." More information on Externships, including how to participate or host, may be accessed at Iowa STEM Teacher Externship 

* Certain environmental and conservation externships were made possible by funding in part by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP CEP).

Nothing Compares to STEM Day at the Fair

One of the 20 exhibiting partners Iowa Lakes Community College's Director of Sustainable Energy Resources & Technologies Daniel Lutat coaches a young STEM enthusiast at the 2017 STEM Day at the Fair.
Contributed by Madison Flesch,
student assistant

The Iowa State Fair broke attendance records this year with over 1,130,000 people in attendance overall, and STEM Day at the Iowa State Fair on "super Sunday" (August 20) was no different. Early results from evaluation numbers calculated during the event show higher engagement and attendance levels on the Grand Concourse exhibit tent and with our Stage Acts than ever before.

The sixth year of the event saw an expansion to over 5,000 square feet of Iowa STEM on the Grand Concourse with 20 exhibiting partners with wide and wonderful variations of hands-on activities. Thanks to corporate partners ACT, Kemin Industries, Iowa Workforce Development, We Build Iowa, Rockwell Collins, Robert Half and Vermeer Corporation for sponsoring the event, STEM Day was better than ever with an estimated 1,400 people interacting with exhibitors at any given snapshot moment over the course of the day.

Back for another encore year on the STEM Stage, the Blank Park Zoo, the Grout Museum District, Team Neutrino with FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), the Science Center of Iowa and Iowa State University's "Water Rocks!" and mathematics professor Steve Butler each brought an added dimension of informative fun to families at the Fair. All gathered at noon for remarks and recognitions by STEM Council co-chairs Governor Kim Reynolds and Accumold President and CEO Roger Hargens, followed by FIRST President Don Bossi who honored the World Champion Combustible Lemons of Davenport West. The noon celebration included a special Mentoring Award presented to John Deere's Pat Barnes by Million Women Mentors-Iowa co-chair Jana Rieker and the 2017 debut of Kemin Industry's I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award nomination period by Kemin scientist Dr. Jerilyn Hergenreder. Over 400 people attended the different stage act performances, displaying high levels of engagement with the acts and their content.

Iowans who took a moment to visit the STEM Council's east-edge tent were graced with a "Greatness STEMs from Iowans" backpack, spreading 8,000 of the colorfully branded bags across the Fairgrounds, with as many as 10,000 Iowans getting "STEM-ed" throughout the day. Activities some visitors participated in included the STEM Day at the Fair Checklist, the Iowa STEM Photo Booth, designing a submersible, constructing ferromagnetic art, forming electrical circuits with conductive playdough and dozens of other hands-on undertakings.

This increasingly popular event is possible only through coordination with multiple Iowa organizations, volunteers, Iowa State Fair staff and investments from our Corporate Partners. Especially instrumental in the success of STEM Day at the Fair is Council partner Strategic America for all of the behind-the-scenes work. The result is greater awareness and understanding of Iowa STEM in families, along with building a stronger STEM workforce for Iowa's future.

If you missed the event, you can still get a peek at the day by checking out our photo spread on Facebook.

Small, Yet Mighty: the STEM Council Student Staff

The students helping power the statewide STEM engine are: (left to right) Michelle Matchell (Des Moines), Ashlyn Thompson (Ottumwa) and Madison Flesch (Waukee).  
Contributed by Michelle Matchell, student assistant

There are three student assistants currently working in the Iowa STEM Council office this school year. Ashlyn Thompson is a junior from Ottumwa and is majoring in Mathematics Education and Spanish/English Translation. In the future, she wants to be a middle school mathematics teacher. Madi Flesch is a senior Chemistry major, minoring in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. She is from Waukee and is currently applying to chemistry Ph.D. programs. I, Michelle Matchell, am from Des Moines. I am a double major in Biology and Biochemistry and aspire to be in the medical field.
We spend our time working in the STEM Council office because we are passionate about science, technology, engineering and mathematics and growing these fields in Iowa. STEM is important to us because it is ever-changing and can open so many doors for the future. Madi says she loves STEM because she enjoys learning about science and creating on a fundamental level in the laboratory. There are so many avenues to pursue in STEM, the possibilities are endless, and we want to help build these opportunities for all students in Iowa.
Our role as a student team for the STEM Council consists of many different tasks. Many of us do behind the scenes work such as creating databases, researching topics in STEM education, designing documents such as certificates, preparing mailings or putting folders together for conferences, as well as other tasks to build capacity and help the Central Operations Office run smoothly. Sometimes we are assigned to certain STEM programs like Madi who works on the Iowa STEM Teacher Externships Program. From the office, she maintains the records of the applicants, ensures that all parties involved are properly informed and connected, and monitors the Externship email account. We do various jobs that can be large or small but are always meaningful to the success of the STEM Council. As Ashlyn says, we are a small force at the Central Operations Office, but we are certainly mighty.