August 2020
Monthly News
IN THIS ISSUE

Twelve STEM BEST Models Join Innovative Education Community

Wanted: Outstanding STEM Teachers for Recognition

Nothing Compares to Virtual STEM Day at the Fair

Iowa Convenes Midwest STEM Leaders

September 8, 2020 - 2:00 p.m.
South Central Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting

September 14, 2020 - 10:00 a.m.
Northwest Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting

September 17, 2020 - 11:00 a.m.
Southeast Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting

September 18, 2020 - 10:30 a.m.
North Central Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting

September 30, 2020 - 1:00 p.m.
Northeast Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting
Twelve STEM BEST Models Join Innovative Education Community
The 2018 STEM BEST partner Okoboji No Boundaries Leaving a Legacy team looks at blueprints of the new middle school with business partner Todd Abrahamson.
Iowa’s STEM initiative continues to grow with 12 new STEM BEST® (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) Programs recognized, administered by the STEM Council. A total of 75 new and expanded STEM BEST Programs have been launched and expanded since 2014 involving more than 8,500 students across the state.

The STEM BEST Program provides support to school-business partnerships that bring teachers and industry professionals together to design a dynamic curriculum connected to future careers. This program opens the door for students to gain authentic workplace experience where they develop greater knowledge of the skills needed in STEM fields, such as advanced manufacturing, agriculture and health care.

“Providing students with access to STEM work-based learning experiences can transform their lives and have a real impact on Iowa’s future workforce,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds, STEM Council co-chair. “We deeply appreciate the dedication of educators and employers in communities across the state who together expose thousands of students to the skills needed in the workplace and the connection to classroom learning.”

The 12 new or expanded partnerships are supported by a $25,000 investment from the STEM Council. Participating employer partners often contribute a dollar-for-dollar match with some going above and beyond the cost-share requirement. Awards can be used for curriculum development and coordination, educator training and development in workplace-classroom integration and preparing the work-based learning environment.

The 2020 STEM BEST Program awardees are:

  • Ames Community School District in the North Central STEM Region
  • Cedar Falls Community School District in the Northeast STEM Region
  • Cedar Valley Catholic in the Northeast STEM Region
  • Clear Lake Community School District in the North Central STEM Region
  • Emmetsburg Community School District in the Northwest STEM Region
  • Lewis Central Community School District in the Southwest STEM Region
  • Marshalltown Community School District in the North Central STEM Region
  • MOC-Floyd Valley Community School District in the Northwest STEM Region
  • Muscatine Community School District in the Southeast STEM Region
  • North Fayette Valley Community School District in the Northeast STEM Region
  • Pella Community School District in the South Central STEM Region
  • Woodbine Community School District in the Southwest STEM Region
 
To be considered for a STEM BEST Program partner, applicants were required to submit a comprehensive proposal that included thorough and relevant STEM curriculum, valuable partnerships with community businesses or organizations, real-world learning opportunities and expertise at the postsecondary education and training level. These awardees will serve as models to share unique perspectives, strengths, demographics and program focus with other schools throughout Iowa.

Visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/STEMBEST for more information on the STEM BEST Program.
Wanted: Outstanding STEM Teachers for Recognition
The 2019 Iowa STEM Teacher Award recipients were honored at STEM Day at the Capitol last February. The period to nominate an outstanding STEM teacher is now open.
Iowa has many outstanding and dedicated educators. Most Iowans can likely recall a teacher who inspired STEM learning and a future of innovative thinking. Nominations are now being accepted to recognize those teachers with the Iowa STEM Teacher Award.

The STEM Council is partnering with Kemin Industries for the seventh year of the Iowa STEM Teacher Award. The award recognizes one full-time, licensed PreK-12 teacher from each of the six Iowa STEM regions for their passion in motivating their students to develop a lifelong interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The six teachers selected will each receive an award of $1,500 for their classrooms with an additional $1,500 for personal use.

Gov. Reynolds, Kemin President and CEO Chris Nelson and STEM Council Executive Director Jeff Weld kicked off the nomination period opening with a video that aired on August 23 during virtual STEM Day at the Fair. Nominations will be accepted starting August 23 through Friday, October 9, 2020.

“Every STEM professional, and every adult Iowan, remembers that special teacher who made a difference, who brightened their future,” said Jeff Weld, executive director of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “Today’s educators plant the seed in preparing young minds for a successful future filled with economic vitality and productive community engagement. We’re delighted to highlight some of the best educators in our state.”

Any individual can nominate a teacher by going to iowastem.gov/teacheraward-application. Following the nomination, teachers will fill out an application that will be reviewed by a panel of judges. Award recipients will be announced in January 2021.

“The tremendous efforts of Iowa STEM teachers are making a difference in the lives of our students and the future of our state,” said Dr. Chris Nelson, president and CEO of Kemin Industries. “We are honored to have the opportunity to acknowledge their exceptional work in building an environment where students are passionate about STEM. Within Kemin, we see firsthand the importance of STEM in today’s workforce and appreciate the efforts to further ignite excitement in schools.”
Nothing Compares to STEM Day at the Fair
As part of the virtual STEM Day at the Fair 2020, Iowa STEM Teacher Awardee and St. Theresa Catholic School Teacher Rhonda McCarthy shared a lesson about growing plants in space and provided instructions on how to do this at home.
Earlier this summer, the Iowa State Fair Board voted to postpone the 2020 Iowa State Fair until August 12-22, 2021. In order to protect the health and safety of nearly one million expected fair goers, the Iowa State Fair was entirely virtual this year. Each day embraced a new theme with sponsors, activities, photos, videos or contests.

While the Grand Concourse of the Iowa State Fairgrounds was not filled with hands-on activities this year, STEM Day at the Fair packed on the fun and excitement of STEM through virtual experiments and activities.

As is the tradition, STEM Day at the Fair was held on the last day of the State Fair, August 23. A series of STEM videos were shared on the Iowa State Fair website featuring past Iowa STEM Teacher Awardees, a Regional STEM Manager, a Regional STEM Advisory Board Member and other partners.

Iowans of all ages were able to participate in the following activities and experiments from the comfort of home:
  • Engineering a delicious pancake
  • Surface tension
  • Space farming
  • Growth experiments
  • Straw-powered rocket and rocket racer
  • Craters, craters everywhere

A list of materials needed for each activity was made available in advance of STEM Day at the Fair on the Iowa State Fair and STEM Council websites. The videos and materials for STEM activities can be found on the STEM Council website at https://iowastem.gov/STEM-Day-Fair.
Iowa Convenes Midwest STEM Leaders
The seventh convening of the Midwest STEM Forum was held virtually with 33 thought-leaders in STEM from ten states and regions.
The need for inter-state collaboration in STEM was identified shortly after Iowa’s STEM Council was established. John Deere, DuPont-Pioneer (now Corteva) and Rockwell Collins (now Collins Aerospace) advised that like many businesses, they cross borders into surrounding states and encouraged solutions for talent development and innovative thinking across the Midwest. They inspired the Council’s administrative team to launch the Midwest STEM Forum.
 
The seventh convening of STEM leaders across Midwest states, known as the Midwest STEM Forum, was held virtually this past month. Participants included representatives from Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North and South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Iowa, along with guests from the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES) and the Education Commission of the States (ECS). Corporate representatives included Collins Aerospace, John Deere and Boston Scientific.
 
STEM Council Executive Director Jeff Weld welcomed participants and gave an overview of the protocols and agenda. TIES Founder and Senior Partner Jan Morrison shared a vision for the future of STEM. The rest of the forum consisted of three sessions that covered the following topics:
 
Session 1:
  • Adapting STEM education services and programming to the pandemic
  • Equity and access to STEM
  • High quality elementary STEM education
 
Session 2:
  • Solving barriers to successful career pathways
  • ROI for STEM via a cradle-to-career indicator
  • Broad scale successes in computer science education
 
Session 3:
  • Aligning policy and research pressures at the school level with visions of the Federal STEM Plan
  • Out-of-school STEM
  • Building a united front on STEM across a state and region with an encompassing vision
 
Each state has its own unique STEM landscape. The Midwest STEM Forum unites the region through conversation and collaboration that sparks opportunity to bolster STEM education at the regional level.
More Ways to Support STEM in Iowa
Are you interested in supporting STEM education in Iowa? There are many ways to get involved, including program support, application review, working groups and more! For more information, contact STEM Council Associate Director Carrie Rankin at rankin@iowastem.gov.
Contact the Iowa STEM Operations Center by phone at (319) 273-2959
or by email at info@IowaSTEM.gov.