STEM Coordinator Tanya Hunt Offers BEST Insight
Tanya Hunt is the Project Coordinator for Iowa's STEM BEST Program. She helps communities develop, implement, and evaluate their made-to-fit programs.

"My role as Project Coordinator is to provide support and connect people with the resources to develop a successful STEM BEST model that meets their local needs and is sustainable beyond the award year." She does this through webinars, question-answer sessions, and mentor pairings.

Partnerships Explained
The STEM BEST Program affords schools and community stakeholders the opportunity to explore partnerships at the local level to create authentic learning experiences for students K-12. Partners may include but are not limited to: Business and Industry, Economic Development Groups, Non-Profits, Intermediaries, Higher Education Institutions, Local Government Agencies.

"The STEM BEST Program is really a resource for schools to tap into local partnerships that will provide authentic learning opportunities for their students," said Hunt.

Cost-Share Isn't Scary!
One aspect that can worry districts getting ready to apply for funding is the cost-share element. Awards are up to $25,000 with a 1:1 cost-share requirement. Hunt says there are many supports in place to help communities navigate this. In other words, if you request $25,000, the applicant must match that. Cost-share is not just dollars, in-kind services are also allowed to meet the cost-share requirement.

What is In-Kind? Examples to consider can include but are not limited to: time of individuals planning and implementing the STEM BEST Program as well as community partners involved, equipment donations or split costs for large equipment purchases, or space allocated to the Program by a partner.

This year, Iowa STEM beefed up their cost-share support resources, click to read:

Program Models Available
Check out or connect with one of our 65 STEM BEST models. In addition, Hunt can introduce applicants with other educators who were once in their shoes. "I am able to connect them with STEM BEST mentors, leaders in the field, that can assist with the application process."

Action Steps
So, you're ready to start? Here's a breakdown of where to begin.
  • Identify the “change agent” in your school that wants to try something new or different. That role can be someone different in each school.
  • Bring this opportunity to them. The STEM BEST award affords you the time and financial resources to develop and explore your plan.
  • Programs may be incorporated into existing classrooms or outside of the classroom setting based upon need and resource availability.

Great schools seek ways to provide the most relevant and engaging educational opportunities possible. For many district, STEM BEST has helped with this endeavor. Hunt notes there are many benefits, "Students are poised with the opportunity to discover their passions and are then set up for postsecondary success, whatever their path may be."


For additional information, please visit Iowa STEM BEST landing page at Or email Tanya Hunt with questions and ideas at As always Dr. Sarah Derry is here to help at
Host an Extern or
Apply to Become One!
How many times have you heard a student ask, “When will I ever use this?”

The Iowa STEM Teacher Externships Program aims to help teachers answer that age-old question.

During the summer, educators work side-by-side with knowledgeable and skilled industry employees who help bring the classroom curriculum to life. Teacher Externships provide educators with the exposure to answer questions about real-world application, prepare students for careers they may have in the future, and improve educational experiences.
How to incorporate Scale-Up
Monica Post Inspires Student Curiosity
Monica Post has spent her career working with out-of-school school educational programs. She's currently a program specialist for the Des Moines Boys and Girls Club. Recently, we spoke about how she incorporates Scale-Up into existing units and program goals.

"My area of expertise is informal education (out of school time), so my primary motivation is to inspire a student rather than to educate the student," said Post. "That alone gives me a tremendous amount of freedom and gives both the student and the teacher the opportunity to spontaneously explore new ideas. Of course we want to get through the unit, but if a teachable moment arises and it fits the objective, we can go with it."
Question 1: Integration and Adaptations
Q: How did you integrate STEM in Action and Light & Shadow into your existing curriculum?

A: We have seven sites around the Des Moines Metro area where we offer STEM opportunities one or two days per week. We began piloting the STEM in Action programs at the beginning of the school year at one of our sites.

To date we have piloted Coding Mouse, Mineral and Geology Coding, Project Park Design, Great Toy Design Challenge, Wild Feet and Wildlife Corridors. We will be expanding these kits to additional sites in April 2021.  With some of the curriculum, we follow it exactly as written, but sometimes we add activities or adapt the curricula to fit our schedule and youth needs.  

Adaptations might include adding additional art elements. For example for Project Park Design, a Light and Shadow curriculum, we added a project that uses photosensitive paper and sunlight to create art. For Wild Feet, a unit where students design shoes with improved sole traction, we added the opportunity to design the upper part of tennis shoes in addition to the soles.   

Question 2: Engagement
Q: What do you and/or your students like about Scale-Ups?  

A: There is a novelty element to the programs. In some cases we use familiar toys (stress ball painted like a globe) and mix that with new tools (the Shadow Box Viewer). The activities predict inquiry questions that we might hear, guide us as co-learners to explore the answers and leave room for additional questions and inquiry.

Question 3: Value
Q: Do Scale-Up activities add educational/social value to your classroom? If so, in what ways?

A: Yes, Educational Value …absolutely. They provide an opportunity to explore concepts that naturally come to mind and allows students and leaders to go more in depth into the answers.

Check-out Library of Scale-Up Materials
If you are new to Scale-Up or seeking more options, please check out our Curriculum Library Materials. We don't have all the programs offered, but can often help you find what you're seeking. It's an risk-free introduction to the types of materials you could receive upon application.

2021-22 Scale-Up Application Update:
If you applied for Scale-Ups earlier this month--thank you! Please know they are currently under review. Here's a look at what comes next:
  • March – April 2021: Review period (Applications were due March 5)
  • April 9, 2021: Awardees notified
  • May 2021: Program providers introduced to awarded educators to begin planning
  • Summer 2021: Training, professional development in preparation for program implementation during 2021-2022 academic year
  • July 1, 2021 – May 31, 2022: Implementation
  • May 31, 2022: All evaluation materials due to the state

Email Dr. Sarah Derry with Scale-Up questions.
Curriculum Check-Out Materials Available
Six items are currently available via the hub checkout library for up to 4 weeks. Groups of 10 students or above have priority, but email to request an exception.

"EiE Sounds Like Fun--Seeing Animal Sounds Kit"
  • Details can be found:

"Family Fun Math Night Kit"

"Pint Size Science Bits and Bots Kit"

"Ramps & Pathways"
  • Details can be found:

"Samsung Galaxy 7.0 Tablets--Set of 30"
  • Details can be found:

"World in Motion Skimmer Challenge"
  • Details can be found:

Pick-up available in parking lot:
Collier-Scripps Hall
Drake University
2702 Forest Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50031

Curriculum questions -- Click to email.

NOTE: If your request doesn't get a confirmation within 24 hours,
please email the email us directly.
Meet Anderson Sainci
SC Hub Receives Friend of Science Education Award

Thank you to the Iowa Science Teachers Section
of the Iowa Academy of Science for choosing the
South Central STEM Hub for this incredible award.

We love teachers and are so grateful to be part of their support system. From our remarkable Advisory Board to area STEM volunteers and organizations who share their time and talents--it truly takes a team.
Iowa STEM Celebrates 10th Anniversary
South Central Iowa STEM Region is proud to play a key role in creating awareness of STEM
For the past 10 years, it has been an honor to serve preK-12 educators around the the state through the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. This year marks our 10-year milestone in celebrating the progress of increasing STEM awareness and interest. 

To launch this milestone anniversary, the STEM Council is sharing a video of current and past Council co-chairs, members and STEM partners highlighting the growth over the past ten years and the evolution of STEM education in Iowa. 

In 2011, Iowa was one of the first states to launch a formal STEM education initiative in order to increase student interest and achievement in STEM subjects and careers. The initiative focused on preschool through 12th grade students to help better prepare the future workforce in Iowa. 
Over the past ten years, the STEM Council has been a pioneer in STEM education by working with various partners and advocates across the state to introduce and expand program offerings, leading to programs such as STEM BEST, STEM Scale-Up and Iowa STEM Teacher Externships. Education, business and civic sectors have come together to build on the existing momentum and will continue to identify strategies for ensuring all Iowa students have access to outstanding STEM education. 
South Central Iowa STEM Hub is proud to play a role in the State initiatives by facilitating access to STEM education opportunities and increasing engagement in STEM within our region.  

Each year, we serve between around 12,000 and 15,000 students through Scale-Ups. The Hub partners to bring between 6-8 STEM festivals to communities each year, serving between 250 to 1200 participants per event. Because of our great rural and urban industry partners, summer Externship hosts and teacher applicants have soared like the summer heat, to over two dozen placements each year. We're also happy to share that many of our STEM BEST programs have been instrumental in assisting other districts as they develop their own original ideas, including Waukee APEX, Ankeny Oribis, Ottumwa SparkTank, Pella PEERS (pictured above), Albia Aspire, Newton Fledge, and many others.

“STEM prepares youth for careers that don’t even exist yet," said Derry, who has served as the Hub's manager for the past 8 years. "Last year’s flood of innovation amidst uncertainty assured me of two things: that we need STEM more than ever, and that Iowa’s kids are up to the challenge.  The STEM Hub at Drake University has spent the last ten years meeting South Central Iowa businesses, educators, and families where they are at and connecting STEM learning to careers in Iowa. We look forward to continuing to our work for Iowa’s future workforce. The future is bright!” 

To meet new needs this school year, the Hub partnered with organizations to create a Virtual STEM Career Talk Series and hosted Virtual Hands-On Workshops with the versatility to be used at-home, with a class, or in after school programming.
Amber Pargmann (above), SC Regional Advisory Board Member and John Deere Global Program Manager, talked about the benefits of school-business partnerships. Pargmann has been a trailblazer for STEM outreach. "It really gives you a different perspective on your career. It makes you a more diverse thinker. You actually start to bring that outlook into your job and it helps you to consider things when you are making decisions."

These connections have real impact on whether students choose to stay and work here in Iowa. It also provides a network to professionals and businesses who become rooted to their schools and communities.
While there has been significant progress in creating awareness of and interest in STEM education in Iowa communities, the STEM Council continues to focus on the future. In conjunction with the 10th anniversary celebration, the STEM Council is unveiling an updated logo. 
“We’re transitioning to ‘Tomorrow STEMs from Iowa’ for the bright future that STEM education represents both for individuals and communities across Iowa,” says Jeff Weld, executive director of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “Our own future as a STEM Council focuses on enhancing the development, delivery and impact of STEM education resources so that all Iowans have the opportunity to make ‘tomorrow’ brighter.” 
The Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council continues to serve as a leader among STEM organizations throughout the country. In 2020, the STEM Council launched new projects including the STEM Essential podcast, STEM Twitter Chats and the Teachable Moment webpage which has a curated collection of STEM-related lessons and activities. 
For more information about the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and available programs, visit or the South Central Iowa STEM Region website at  
Free Teacher Training from Past Scale-Up Partner:

NewBoCo is offering this FREE summer training for teachers on incorporating Artificial Intelligence into K-12 education. 

If you're a past Computer Science Discoveries, Computer Science Fundamentals, Computer Science Principles, or Computer Science is Elementary awardee, this would be a great extension for you! All, including those new to computer science education, are welcome -- it’s open to anyone.
Parent Resource:
STEM Birthday Parties
With changes in education due to the pandemic, many parents are actively seeking STEM enrichment. One fun way to do that is create an at-home STEM-themed birthday or neighborhood party. If you're not comfortable gathering, put together and send individual kits to friends and link-up via Zoom. Face to face or physically distanced, these are also great resources for rainy-day weekends--any time you need a little hands-on STEM.

The Iowa STEM Teachable Moment Website provides a curated collection of STEM ideas. It's organized by age with detailed project links.

Visit the Iowa STEM Pinterest Page for ideas that include STEM in the Arts.

Here's a sample list from the SC STEM Hub's STEM festival activity videos from the past year--all hands-on with STEM professionals and/or near-peer students:

To the parents out there: if you have an STEM idea/question/concern, and you think the Hub could be of assistance, please click to EMAIL us!
Thanks Board Members!

The South Central STEM Hub Regional Advisory Board has 15 dedicated members from diverse backgrounds and locations.

Want to make a difference? Volunteer!

Our board members provide guidance, review processes and applications, help at STEM festivals, attend and host meetings and events, serve as ambassadors, and so much more!

If you’d like to apply for this or any state board, please click HERE.

Please contact Dr. Sarah Derry at if you’d like to attend a meeting.
Meet our Advisory Board

  • Bridgette Andrews
  • Creighton Cox
  • Katrina Cummings
  • Carla Eysink
  • Sherry Ford
  • Nadilia Gomez
  • Mauree Haage*
  • Jonathan Holmen
  • Ronda McCarthy
  • Alison Mohr*
  • Joe Murphy
  • Amber Pargmann
  • Scott Schultz
  • Jen Williams
  • Laura Williams
* = board co-chairs
SC Regional Manager: Dr. Sarah Derry
Phone: 515-271-2403

Collier-Scripps Hall #314/317
2702 Forest Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50031
Calendar of Events

April 20 -- Iowa High School Tech Summit

If you have a STEM-related class, celebration, tribute, or event, please email us so we can share via social media and/or our event calendar.

For more events and details, please visit our website calendar.