October 2020 Recap: SC STEM Hub Newsletter
Sharing the Best of STEM News
Let's Connect!

SC Regional Manager:

Website: https://scstemhub.drake.edu/
Collier-Scripps Hall #314/317
2702 Forest Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50031
In the News
  • AEA Goes Online
  • Apprenticeship Webinar
  • Williams Talks Career Modules
  • Equity & STEM Webinar
  • Top 5 Virtual Learning Tips
  • Let's Connect!
  • School+Business Webinar
  • Meet Katrina Cummings
  • Seal of Approval!
Hub Hosts Community Conversations
Please join us for two important conversations involving vital topics facing Iowa educational communities: STEM Equity and School-Buisness Engagement. We have insightful speakers and time reserved for you to share experiences. Both sessions will be recorded; an archived link will be sent to registrants.
STEM Equity
Socioeconomics, race, and gender combine to create inequities in education. This webinar will continue community efforts to highlight and address challenges many students and educators face. Diversity is a strength, and we're working toward a day when STEM creates a place where all students have a positive future.
School-Business Partnerships
Successful communities equal successsul schools! And it all starts with one person and one idea. This conversation will help begin and/or continue school-business partnerships that create educational opportunities and well-paying career pathways. We hope to encourage students to stay in Iowa long past their school years.
Schedule for Both Events
Hosted by Dr. Sarah Derry, SC STEM Hub Manager, the Zoom conversation will last about an hour and will take on the following format:
  • Welcome
  • 10-minutes per Speaker in a Q/A Style Talk
  • Monitored Chat for Audience Questions
  • 10-minute Breakout Room Meetings for Audience Member Discussion
  • Close
STEM BEST Webinar:
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, demand for apprenticeships continues to grow. Since 2008, this sector of the job market has increased 128%. To address industry needs, Iowa schools have successfully piloted several high school apprenticeship programs.

This Zoom webinar will help your school with the following:
  • understand the definition of a high school apprenticeship
  • find community resources
  • list possible funding sources.
DATE: November 10, 2020 from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

3:30-3:35 Welcome. Introductions. Jeff Weld, Executive Director, Iowa
Governor’s STEM Advisory Council

3:35-3:45  Current status of HS R.A. in Iowa – Greer Sisson, State
Director, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training
Administration, Office of Apprenticeship

3:45-4:06   Advice from Peers: What it’s like to launch a HS R.A. program
  • Teri Vos, Director of Work-Based Learning, a community collaboration based at Central College Andy Zinn,
  • Vocational Welding Trainer, Davenport West High School
  • David Ottavianelli, Strategic Workforce Projects, John Deere

4:06-4:16  Supports and Resources—friends and funds—Amy Beller,
Registered Apprenticeship Program Coordinator, Iowa
Workforce Development

4:16-4:30  Q&A

In Preparation:
If you would like to read more, check out Iowa's High School Resigtered Apprenticeship Playbook. Find the PDF here.
For more High School Registered Apprenticeships in Iowa, join our live Twitter Chat on Thursday, November 12th
Career Modules Create Virtual Work Experience
Photo from AEA Learning Online webiste.
In 2017, a group of superintendents came together and identified career modules specific to the needs of Iowa students. AEA Online took that seed and grew it into a finished product that is available for all 500,000+ K-12 students for free.

Called Career Investigative Learning Modules, they are designed to present information to students about possible career paths. They are interactive, brief, and embedded with next-steps and field mentorships to clearly outline educational needs for various off-ramps of the career. Teachers will set-up their students usig AEA building codes, and students will log-in for access.

"The goal is to provide relevant information to help students make better career decisions earlier," said Laura Williams, GPEAE's 21st Century Consultant, "one with supports to help each student succeed in whatever path they desire."

Students benefit in several ways.
  1. Exposure: There's a brief introduction, historical overview, and informaiton on related jobs.
  2. Pathway: Information outlines how to be successful in career next-steps.
  3. Mentorship: Students can sign up for a career mentor.
  4. Apprenticeship: Some careers provide apprenticeship experiences and educational opportunities

Teachers benefit by providing the most relevant information to students to help them make decisions that are going to shape the rest of their lives. In addition, the modules are accessible and easy to navigate online. Many also provide support for Iowa Core 21st Century Skills.

"Providing learning opportunities that bring about career awareness and exploration help to ensure our students know their options beyond school," said Williams. "It also helps teachers connect curriculum to relevant and applicable careers so students can make make a connection to answer that age old question: 'Why do I need to know this?'"
Laura Williams is a dynamo of teacher resources and STEM enthusiasm! She serves as a 21st Century Skills Specialist at the AEA, focusing on Virtual Learning opportunities. She is also a South Central Regional Advisory Board Member. If you have questions regarding online learning opportunitites, you can find her contact info on the GPAEA website,
Meet Katrina Cummings
Weaving STEM into Early Childhood Ed
Above: Welcome to Professor Katrina Cummings! She brings much needed expertise and experience in early childhood education to SC's Regional Board.
“I love education!” says Katrina Cummings. She’s built a life dedicated to teaching and researching how kids learn. Currently, she serves as an assistant professor at Simpson College, working with undergraduates seeking endorsements in early childhood education. She also serves on several committees, focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Early Childhood Emphasis
This fall, Cummings brings her passion for early childhood education to the South Central Advisory Board as one of our newest members. “Learning opportunities are all around us!” Cummings said. “Pursuing learning through a STEM framework helps us to make connections between our everyday experiences, academic content, and future careers.”

Studies show early STEM experiences hold the key to later engagement. Cummings' expertise provides much needed insight into how state programming can complement what educators are already doing.

“I am interested in pursuing new ways to see early childhood experiences through a STEM lens,” she noted. “Particularly, what are developmentally appropriate ways that we can embed STEM in early childhood learning and bring awareness to the many STEM constructs that naturally exist within early childhood environments.” 

Defining Moments
Her own interest in STEM began in this organic way. When she was very young, she remembers asking a lot of questions on how things work. “One specific memory I have is grocery shopping with my mother and grandmother and trying to figure out how much items would cost when taxes were added.” 

Family experiences continued to inspire her learning pursuits. In middle school, an aunt encouraged her to choose a book. She picked one on designing outdoor spaces. That led to an interest in architecture, but her exposure to the topic was limited. “At my high school, courses related to architecture were encouraged for students who wanted to pursue a trade post-graduation rather than higher education.”

So, while her college studies didn’t take a STEM trajectory, she’s always enjoyed tinkering. “I think that this passion, along with my experiences, has contributed to my promotion of play-based learning and, more specifically, me considering play as an avenue through which children gain exposure to STEM experiences during the early years.” 
STEM Advice
When working with college students, her goal is to always help them find a career they love. Her advice is to “set goals then identify individuals and resources that can help achieve them.” She encourages young people to “pursue their own path. Everyone’s path is unique, but I hope that sharing my experiences helps make someone else’s journey easier.”

With such a positive outlook and passion for learning, Cummings is the type of teacher who inspires others to love education, too.
GPAEA Answers Online Learning Questions
Above: Craig Mohr, K-12 Instructional Designer, and Laura Williams, 21st Century Learning Specialist, collaborate for online initiatives.
The Hub has been seeking experts and resources to help the STEM community through changes in education because of COVID-19. This month, we asked Laura Williams for tips from the AEA. Williams works as the 21st Century Learning Specialist for Greater Prairie AEA. She is also a member of the South Central Regional Advisory Board.

Williams, in partnership with her colleagues, addressed some questions we received regarding online learning resources available to all teachers and parents.

Q: How has K-12 learning changed in Iowa this fall? 

A: This fall, K-12 Learning has been forced to be innovative. While being innovative isn’t always comfortable, it is a place where trying new things and unique problem solving are rewarded. 

Classrooms look different this year, but the goals are the same. The only way through something like this is to push on, give it what you have as an educator, and keep the students as your priority. I believe that teachers are trying new things because of this priority, and I think that will give them more techniques to engage students in learning beyond the pandemic. 

Q: People are very concerned students won't learn as much this year. Does student achievement drop with online learning?

A: As with all learning environments and experiences, there will be varying degrees of student engagement (regardless of being virtual or face-to-face) which can impact learning. 

The goal is to know your students and find opportunities that are relevant to them while providing them with choices. Teachers have had great success with digital choice boards to help students “choose their adventure”. The more student-centered the learning opportunity, the better chance a student will engage in learning, regardless of environment.

I think the great challenge is translating in-person engagement to online engagement and that can take time to plan and creativity on the teacher’s part. Sharing online resources and content is so critical right now to overcome that barrier.

Q: It's okay NOT to feel okay. If a teacher is overwhelmed with the added stress Covid-19 (or notices someone else who is struggling), is there someone at the AEA who can help? 

A: This link will provide you with contact information for your AEA who can provide information on local resources. 

If feeling in crisis, National Alliance on Mental Illness - Iowa has published a list of resources to reach out for help. https://namiiowa.org/crisis-info/

To learn more about good mental health practices, check out these resources:
Online Anytime: Local Learning Resources
We've updated the Hub's PreK-12 Resources page. For more AEA, Iowa STEM, and community resources, click HERE.

AEA Resource Examples: 
Community Learning Ideas: 

Iowa STEM Offerings: 
Apply for an Iowa STEM Seal of Approval
Above: Students partcipate in the World Food Prize Youth Institute.
Great STEM happens lots of places. To recognize community programs doing exemplary work with Iowa students, Iowa STEM created the Seal of Approval program. Both individual programs and periodic events that make a significant contribution to STEM and their community will be considered.

Congratulations to these South Central Regional programs who have received the Seal of Approval and are currently running. Click to learn more about each program.

These experiences share knowledge, connect to educators and professionals, build confidence, and inspire Iowa kids to choose meaningful careers that make Iowa better.
Calendar of Events

Nov 3 - Vote (if you haven't, yet)
Nov. 5 - NCWIT Computing Award Due 
Nov. 10 - H.S. Apprenticeship Webinar
Nov. 12 - Equity, STEM & Comm. Webinar
Nov. 12 - H.S. Apprenticeship Twitter Chat
Nov. 14 - Virtual Girls Code ++
Nov. 16 - Business + Schools Webinar
Nov. 26 - Happy Thanksgiving!

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.
Need help?
Our Board is here to serve!

  • Bridgette Andrews
  • Creighton Cox
  • Katrina Cummings
  • Carla Eysink
  • Sherry Ford
  • Nadilia Gomez
  • Mauree Haage*
  • Jonathan Holmen
  • Major Jen
  • Ronda McCarthy
  • Alison Mohr*
  • Joe Murphy
  • Amber Pargmann
  • Laura Williams
* = board co-chairs