Thousands learn to program through Code Iowa

Grant Wood Elementary School is one of six schools or districts in Iowa that received a $3,500 Code Iowa Technology Award for helping students learn computer science during the "Hour of Code."

The room is eerily quiet. Students' eyes are glued to their computers, geared up with headphones and a mouse to take on the challenge. Suddenly, a young girl's hands go up in the air as she yells, "Yes! I did it!"
That's the "Hour of Code."
More than 500 classrooms, libraries, afterschool clubs and more took on the "Hour of Code" in early December. It is an annual, international celebration of computer programming meant to introduce the skills and careers computer science offers to those students who might not otherwise be aware. Programming offered through leads students through how to code games, tapping into their love for technology to show them they can enjoy it and create with it too.
In Iowa, the STEM Council localized that effort and called it, "Code Iowa," partnering with NewBoCo and, as well as Google and Verizon who together provided $40,000 for six $3,500 technology awards and future computer science trainings for 2017. Anyone who participated in the "Hour of Code" is recognized as a Certified Code Iowa Partner and the six schools and districts across Iowa who received one of six technology awards are:
  • Humboldt Community School District
  • Highland Elementary School in Waterloo
  • Spirit Lake Elementary School
  • Knoxville Community School District
  • Grant Wood Elementary School in Iowa City
  • Tri-Center Middle School in Neola
Knoxville Community School District brought in guest speakers to talk about how coding relates to their jobs while Spirit Lake Elementary School "jammed the halls" to code early one morning ( check out the video). Among the six awardees, more than 3,000 students participated -- just a portion of the 53,000 students proposed in 150 award applications and thousands more Iowans to be reported by analytics in January.
To learn more about the six awardees or Code Iowa, visit

January 24, 2017
STEM Scale-Up Program Application for Educators opens
More Information

Iowa STEM Operations Center
University of Northern Iowa
214 East Bartlett
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0298
PHONE 319-273-2959

Iowa D.N.R. and U.S. D.o.L. invest in Iowa STEM

Bridging the worlds of school and work has earned Iowa STEM the trust of investors.

Two Iowa STEM programs just got a major boost thanks to grants totaling $250,000. The STEM Council's premiere professional development experience for STEM teachers -- six-week summer externships -- has earned a major vote of confidence from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the form of more than $50,000 from their Resource Enhancement And Protection (REAP) grant competition. The 22 life science teachers who will spend summer 2017 immersed in DNR field projects thanks to the award will translate their experiences to dynamic lessons, as well as career coaching back at school in the fall. To date, nearly 400 Iowa teachers have bridged the school-to-work world transition that awaits their students.
Linking jobs to classroom experiences is also a hallmark of the STEM Council's BEST® program, now numbering 18 school+business partnerships. Four STEM BEST models will pilot quality pre-apprenticeships for their students through a $200,000 subaward of a $1.8 million grant to Iowa Workforce Development from the U.S. Department of Labor's ApprenticeshipUSA program. The funds will support educator-employer conceptualization, leading to student work-based learning experiences that springboard to post-secondary study and credentials in high-demand STEM occupations. From proof-of-concept, schools across the state will be provided the playbook for their own pre-apprenticeships.    
Grants and gifts make up an increasing proportion of Iowa's STEM resource pool as investors come to know the impact and results of the STEM Council's work. Many of the companies and organizations who contribute are credited at Workplaces interested in transforming education while priming the pump for their own future talent through hosting a Teacher Extern may sign on at Additional information about STEM BEST may be accessed at
MVP for Iowa STEM: Steve Triplett 

Steve Triplett, a STEM Council member and ACT's STEM Client Partnerships director, speaks at the annual John Deere Inspire meeting about ACT findings on STEM.
Of 32 U.S. states where more than half of their graduates take the ACT, Iowa has the highest percentage of students meeting the STEM benchmark.
This great data point to help Iowa monitor student STEM interest would not exist if not for a great partnership with December's MVP for Iowa STEM Steve Triplett.
Triplett is the STEM Client Partnerships director for ACT, Inc. based in Iowa City. He first started attending STEM Council meetings as a proxy for the organization's former president John Erickson, but in 2014, Governor Branstad officially appointed Triplett to the STEM Council.
Steve's plentiful contributions to the STEM Council have shaped many initiatives critical to the success of the operation today. Triplett has helped plan previous statewide STEM summits, has assisted in the selection process for Iowa STEM's public relations partner Strategic America and has presented annually at the Midwest STEM Forum. His expertise has helped shape recommendations as co-chair of the STEM and the Arts working group, chair of the STEM Professional Development working group and member of the School Counselor Engagement working group. Moreover, Steve and ACT, Inc. have hosted numerous convenings over the years, including a Midwest STEM Forum, a STEM Council meeting and a STEM summit reception.
ACT, Inc's biggest contribution to Iowa STEM is the annual state-by-state report that highlights the "Condition of STEM" based on ACT scores. Before the report emerged, ACT leaders invited STEM Council Executive Director Dr. Jeff Weld to provide insight on what the report should include to benefit Iowa and states across the country.
"ACT has made a strong commitment to STEM data and research," Triplett said. "We started looking at how we could utilize that STEM data to support the work of the STEM Council, which is ever increasing the opportunities for our students to be successful in STEM. That's very fulfilling for me."
Click here for ACT's full Iowa Condition of STEM Report and visit the   Governor's STEM Advisory Council to view the roster of the other 46 members of the team helping drive the STEM momentum in Iowa. Succeeding Steve as ACT, Inc.'s representative on the STEM Council will be Scott Montgomery, senior vice president for public affairs. Welcome Scott, and thank you Steve.

Putting STEM first in the FIRST Robotics Competition

The leadership group for West Delaware High School's FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team, started through the STEM Scale-Up Program, talks strategy and design for the approaching build season of their robot.
You might think it takes an Einstein-like mind to build a robot from scratch -- or at least some years studying the craft. Yet, a program offered on the 2016-17 STEM Scale-Up Program menu is making it common for high school students to be the new, young minds behind these innovations. It's called, "FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)."
With the help of the STEM Scale-Up Program, the number of FRC teams has more than doubled in Iowa since 2015. Half of the 22 current teams started with the help of the program award, recruiting nearly 180 students across the state.
According to Kenton Swartley, the FRC lead for the state and community partnerships and STEM facilitator for Cedar Falls Community School District, each team member spends an average of 10 hours per week on the project, sometimes meeting as often as five days a week. From programming and robot design to outreach presentations and communications, an FRC team has diverse offerings for students to plug into a role of their interest or expertise.
"It is about coming together as a team and working toward a common goal," said Ben Moser, a teacher and team leader at West Delaware Community School District. "Our students have really embraced that challenge. They have done so much already, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what they can do."
The team, funded through the STEM Scale-Up Program, currently has 20 members -- eight females and 12 males -- 15 of whom come from grades 9-10. Moser says a leadership team oversees the build and business aspects of the program and has visited with local business partners to produce sponsorships and recruit mentors.
The end goal?
"To go to the regional competition with a robot that can compete, as well as building a team that will be established for years to come," Moser said. "There is a lot of unknowns ahead, but the team is looking forward to facing the challenges head on."
The regional competition will be held at the University of Northern Iowa McLeod Center on March 22-25, 2017, and is open to the public. Click here for more information about FRC or visit to learn more about the STEM Scale-Up Program. Educator applications to earn and use outstanding STEM programs in 2017-18 with students opens on Tuesday, January 24, 2017.