October 2018
SC STEM Hub Newsletter
Thanks to the STEM enthusiasts who make coming to work each day a joy: students, educators, parents, community volunteers, legislators, and the Drake community!
Dr. Sarah Derry, SC Regional Manager
Phone : 515-271-2403
Website : https://scstemhub.drake.edu/
Email : scstemhub@drake.edu
Calendar : Calendar of Events
Hashtag: #STEMinYourWorld
Most people agree that meeting students is the best part of Council meetings. Above, Bondurant-Farrar STEM Instructor Donovan Hill interacts with a kindergarten class from his district. "I always enjoy asking students what they're learning and creating, said Council member and SWCC President Barbara Crittenden. "I enjoy hearing them articulate how they think and process information."
Current STEM Council Focus: Computer Science

On Tuesday, November 20, the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council met to discuss the current status of STEM and the focus of this year's endeavor.

Lt. Governor Adam Gregg welcomed everyone to the meeting, saying, "Today, we're going to be brainstorming how we can bring quality computer science programming to students across Iowa."

Iowa is making progress in the computer science standard's area in three ways:
  • The legislature passed a new state mandate encouraging schools to include computer science in their curriculum, leaving how and when up to local control.

  • The STEM Council is raising private dollars to pilot six more schools after the Loess Hills Elementary School model of including computer science in all aspects of teaching and learning. With the application opening in January, high-poverty schools are encouraged to apply.

  • Finally, the state has funded professional development opportunities for educators who wish to improve and expand their own skills. With $500,000 from the Microsoft settlement and an additional $500,000 from the state, educators in 49 districts across the state have participated.

Gregg pointed out that in 2017, 220 out of 317 high schools across the state offered at least one high-level high school computer science class. "But what about the other 97?" he wondered. "We need to move faster and do more."

Contact the Hub if you're a computer science professional interested in helping with this initiative through donations or volunteerism. Or, if you're an educator looking for resources for your own students, email and let us know what you need.

More on Loess Hills
If you'd like to read more about Loess Hills Elementary School's Pilot Program, please visit our September newsletter .

To learn more about the January computer science funding opportunity, click here .
Top : Dr. Sarah Derry thanks Saydel High School's Computer Science students for demonstrating their learning. Instructor Mr. Fisher was awarded a Scale-Up Award to implement Computer Science Principles.

Middle : Bondurant-Farrar kindergartners show expertise with their Ramps & Pathways engineering creations, a recent Scale-Up award.

Bottom : Major Jen Howard and Lt. Governor Adam Gregg talk with the computer science students.

Carlisle Creates District-Wide STEM Program
Need a place to start in planning your own building/program remodel? Contact any of the past BEST recipients for ideas.
Carlisle Community School District’s Alison Mohr hosted the SC STEM Hub’s Regional Advisory Board meeting on November 12. Besides serving on the Hub’s board, Mohr is a STEM leader and middle school teacher. Beginning with Iowa STEM seed money, the district has created a hands-on, cross-curricular approach to STEM.

Before the meeting, the board was fortunate to see examples of Carlisle’s K-12 STEM programs in action. Beginning with a Scale-Up award for PLTW, school leaders have written for community grants, utilized district funds, and built community support for an inclusive, active approach to engaging students in STEM.

“It’s a collaborative vision for what we want kids to know and do,” said Dana Lillis, Director of Teaching and Learning. She listed a few key elements to district success:
  • The district used district funds and sought additional funding to invest in STEM programming throughout the district.
  • School leaders sought out teachers who would implement and grow the programs at each level.
  • Administrators lead and supported changes, looking to other districts for best practices.

Carlisle’s hard work and commitment has paid off. Each level offers something unique, calls upon prior knowledge, and builds upon new experiences. Here are a few highlights of the visit.

Carlisle Connection
If you’re looking to create or improve a district-wide approach to STEM and are seeking advice, feel free to email SC STEM Regional Board Member and Carlisle Teacher Alison Mohr or Carlisle Teaching and Learning Director Dana Lillis.

“Providing a comprehensive STEM program allows us to meet our district’s vision of providing ALL students with the competencies they need to be successful in life," said Mohr. "Students are actively engaged in opportunities to practice critical thinking, solve complex problems, and learn strategies to work collaboratively. Our K-12 STEM program builds upon these skills so we can prepare our students to thrive in the future."
Alison Mohr, SC STEM Hub Advisory Board Member and Carlisle Middle School teacher, talks with a previous student. She's been an integral part of the district's STEM efforts.

The district overhauled their approach to science, choosing a hands-on program from Carolina STEM. It involved lots of live animals and plants, hands-on activities, and project-based evaluations. Then they added PLTW’s Launch as a compliment to the program. To add additional time for science, K-5 students rotate every 4 days into a Science Special that works in coordination with traditional specials. (Pictured above: Elementary PLTW Teacher Katie Freking with Board Member Creighton Cox listen to a student explain the group's project.)
The district has noticed a positive correlation upon beginning the hands-on, cross-curricular approach. “Behavior issues have decreased,” reported Lillis. “Students who are engaged in the curriculum and busy with active learning have less time to act out.”
In middle school, all students take PLTW, Computer Science, and Physical Education as part of a required elective rotation. all students take PLTW’s Engineering and Computer Science rotations. To make room in the schedule, Health and Physical Education class combined. As the district enrollment increased, the science special elective rotation was needed to accommodate growth. School leaders looked for something interesting and meaningful that would appeal to all students, including girls and those on the free-and-reduced lunch program. STEM provided the answer. (Board member Nadilia Gomez pictured above, talking with a PLTW middle school student)

Hailey, seventh grader, was working with a partner to design a car the day we visited. “We have to make our own mechanisms, and it’s hard,” said Hailey. “I like this class because I like figuring things out on my own and finding my own solutions.”
By the time students reach the high school, many classes and options are open to them. We visited one such elective: Carpentry-Construction Trades class. On this cold fall day, students were hard at work, building a house in a residential neighborhood of Carlisle. Over the years, they’ve built a total of 37 buildings, including the community library. 

Matt Hesse (pictured above, wearing a hat), their teacher, who is also a licensed contractor and certified OSHA instructor, said that many of his past students have gone into the construction trades after involvement in his program, professions like plumbing, carpentry, and HVAC. “Last year, two guys from the class had full-time employment one week after high school graduation,” he said.
Dec. 3-9: Computer Science Ed Week

December 3-9 is National Computer Science Education Week, and educators from across the country will engage their students and local community members in an Hour of Code. The event is designed to help demystify coding and show that anyone can learn the basics.  

Hour of Code
The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science with the goal of broadening participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts. 

In an effort to support the growth of computer science literate students in Iowa, the South Central STEM region is partnering with school districts, libraries, and after school clubs to provide resources and manpower to this effort. A list of registered Hour of Code events in Iowa can be found  here .

Need Ideas?
Here are some of our favorite lessons for various grades:

Hub Resources
The Hub also has a few useful materials for those wishing to use the first-come, first-serve checkout library .
  • Mini-Makers Kit: Cubelets and Makey-Makey
  • Pint Size Bee-Bot Kit
  • Classroom set of 30 Samsung Galaxy Tablets

Share Your Plans
Do you already have a great event planned? We'd love to hear about or come visit!  Contact the SC STEM Hub for more information about the above resources or to arrange a visit to your class room.
Call for Presenters

Are you making connections between environmental topics, data collection and analysis, and STEM in your classroom?

We want to hear from you! The Iowa Conservation Education Coalition (ICEC) is searching for teachers to share how they are using data and investigations to explore environmental topics at our upcoming Winter Workshop.

Teachers will be asked to share the resources and activities they use in the classroom and help facilitate as fellow teachers explore the resources, work through activities, and plan how to incorporate them in their own classrooms.
We are focusing on the following topics at different grade levels:
  • Elementary: Plants, Animals and Habitat
  • Middle School: Water and Water Quality
  • High School: Climate Change

Please contact Alicia Vasto at  exec@iowaee.org  if you are interested or would like more information. Or, for more information, email Dr. Sarah Derry at scstemhub@drake.edu .

The Winter Workshop will be held February 22-23 at Drake University. Facilitating teachers will be comped registration to the Winter Workshop and a one-year membership with ICEC.

Want more STEM?
Calendar of Events

December 1 -- Iowa Afterschool Alliance
Mini-Grants Due
January 8 -- SC Regional Board Meeting
January 25 -- IMMAW STEM Festival

Thank you to the South Central Regional Board Members!

  • Creighton Cox
  • Breanne Garrett
  • Nadilia Gomez
  • Mauree Haage*
  • Kari Henson
  • Jonathon Holmen
  • Ronda McCarthy
  • Alison Mohr
  • Tyler Myerholtz
  • Amber Pargmann*
  • Laura Williams
* co-chairs