Five ways Iowa's STEM Scale-Up Program works

Parents and students get hands-on with "Engineering is Elementary" at the Moulton Extended Learning Center in Des Moines -- one of nine programs slated for scaling in the 2017-18 academic year.

Drop in to just about any school across Iowa this week and somebody's bringing a world-class STEM experience to students through the five-year-old STEM Scale-Up Program initiative of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council. Iowa Testing estimates that slightly more than half of all K-12 youth have by now enjoyed one or more of the STEM Council's exemplary selections.

By mid-winter each year though, planners begin to set the table for the next round. In early January, the STEM Council's Executive Committee met to approve a roster of rigorously-vetted candidates so that on January 24, the Iowa STEM Network team launched the 2017-18 STEM Scale-Up Program menu on behalf of the STEM Council. Nine outstanding STEM programs impressed reviewers with their evidence of effectiveness and are now made available to PreK-12 educators throughout the state.

The STEM Scale-Up Program is the STEM Council's broadest-reaching initiative offered, ensuring both in school and out-of-school educators, from daycare providers to public librarians and afterschool club leaders to classroom practitioners and more, all have an equal opportunity to bring new STEM programming to the youth of Iowa.

Here are five reasons why educators should take part in the STEM Scale-Up Program this year:
  1. Each year about 2,000 educators impact up to 100,000 students through the initiative.
  2. Students who participate in the STEM Scale-Up Program score higher than students statewide on Iowa Assessments in mathematics, science and reading.
  3. Students who participate in the STEM Scale-Up Program show stronger interest in staying in Iowa and working in a STEM field.
  4. 81% of STEM Scale-Up Program educators feel that participating increased their knowledge of STEM topics.
  5. 78% of STEM Scale-Up Program educators express more confidence to teach STEM content. [Find the full results in the 2015-16 Iowa STEM Evaluation Report.]

All nine selected programs passed rigorous reviews, demonstrating:

  • Appeal to diverse youth;
  • Success in improving academic performance;
  • Evidence of integrating STEM concepts;
  • Fostering business-education-community partnerships;
  • And, track records of sustainability.

This opportunity for Iowa educators is one of several offerings that help increase student interest and achievement in STEM, ultimately connecting them to STEM careers that await in Iowa.  


The window of application for bringing one of these top STEM programs to classrooms and clubs next year lasts until Friday, March 3, 2017, at www.IowaSTEM.gov/2017-18-Scale-Up.


February 18, 2017
Northwest Family STEM Festival
Dordt College
Sioux Center, Iowa
More Information

February 21, 2017
Linn County STEM Festival
Linn Country Kirkwood Regional Center
4:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Hiawatha, Iowa
More Information

February 27, 2017
Jefferson County STEM Festival
Fairfield Arts and Convention Center
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Fairfield, Iowa
More Information

March 3, 2017
STEM Scale-Up Program Application for Educators closes
More Information

June 21, 2017
"Fast Track Iowa's Future" Summit
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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

PHONE 319-273-2959
E-MAIL Info@IowaSTEM.gov

Iowa STEM amped up on Java and other computer science tools

Computer science is rapidly taking its place alongside reading, writing and arithmetic as a staple of modern education. Here, kindergartners at Highland Elementary School in Waterloo take a byte of coding.
Generation Z is type-cast as technology native-born with iPads in their cribs, raised with smartphones clutched in their grip, educated on digital global blackboards and bathed in WiFi waves connecting their cars, TVs and toasters. They're accomplished consumers of technology. But how many could design an app, troubleshoot a software bug or critique the pros and cons of crowdsourcing?
The Governor's STEM Advisory Council is intent on equipping young Iowans to manage information technology -- to produce, create and innovate -- in a variety of ways. Out front is the Computer Science (CS) Working Group who delivered recommendations last summer that helped to shape legislation currently winding its way through the Capitol. It calls for the development of high-quality K-12 computer science standards, a teaching endorsement in CS and incentivizes schools to offer computer science classes.
Meanwhile, more than 500 classrooms, libraries and clubs across the state joined the Council's Code Iowa project, supported by Google and Verizon investments, to introduce computer programming to thousands of youth last December, followed by teacher training on CS integration throughout this spring.
Simultaneously, dozens of schools across the state are scaling HyperStream and Project Lead The Way's Introduction to Computer Science this year. And, the STEM operations team is assembling a state-customized CS matrix for Iowans to shop the burgeoning array of offerings available.
These and myriad other CS tactics unlock the code to Iowa's rich CS future. Questions or interest regarding the Council's CS working group may be directed to co-chairs Mark Gruwell or Ann Watts at mark@gruwell.net or Watts@IowaSTEM.gov.
Local workplaces seeking STEM teacher expertise

Jace Arends, a mathematics teacher at Roosevelt High School, learned how the content that he teaches connects to the world of construction through The Weitz Company and the Iowa STEM Teacher Externships program.
If you are a teacher, you have probably wondered how your mathematics or science topics are used behind the walls of the manufacturing plant across town, or what kinds of roof-beam geometry and cement wall chemistry the construction crew uses to build that bridge up north or those new lofts downtown. Imagine the appeal of local, applied context for the units you teach for next year's students.
If you are an employer operating a business, you have probably wondered how to convey the rewarding career opportunities available to young people in your community and how to help shape what is taught so they come to you job-ready.
Employers, teachers, wonder no more. The Iowa STEM Teacher Externships program, now in its ninth year, has bridged the worlds of work and education for hundreds of teachers in dozens of workplaces from manufacturing plant floors to hospital emergency rooms and from quality control laboratories to wildlife sanctuaries.
From such diverse settings, two common outcomes prevail -- businesses bottom lines benefit from expert teachers' summer contributions, and learners benefit at the hands of educators who make lessons locally meaningful while coaching students about nearby jobs that await.
Take it from Weitz Company Teacher Extern Jace Arends, a mathematics teacher at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines:
"The most impactful part was seeing how data driven everything is becoming. It's not good enough in this world to just say 'I think' one thing or another. Of course, you have to use intuition in some spots, but data is becoming so important in all aspects."
Or, from John Deere Dubuque Works Teacher Extern Amanda Goranson, mathematics and computer science teacher at Dubuque Senior High School:
"I try to think of it as not just industry connections as real world content, but also -- as a teacher of upper level students -- as an introduction to different jobs. I feel like more and more students have no idea what they want to do with life, or their goals are vague like 'engineer.'"
Employers who take part as a Workplace Host report at a 97% clip that the Teacher Extern provided significant contributions to worksite operations. They also agree nearly unanimously at 96% that the Teacher Extern provided beneficial outside viewpoints.
Workplace Hosts and Teacher Externs are both welcome to register interest in taking part this summer at www.IowaSTEM.gov/Externships .

MVP for Iowa STEM: Cindy Dietz and Rockwell Collins

Cindy Dietz, an original member of the STEM Council, has contributed mightily to advance Iowa STEM, in partnership with her company, Rockwell Collins.
With the help of January's MVP for Iowa STEM, Rockwell Collins, an aerospace engineering company in Cedar Rapids, Cindy Dietz, its director of external relations, has used her expertise to send Iowa STEM soaring to new heights.
Dietz, an original member of the STEM Council, was one of a handful to help birth the state's STEM effort by contributing to the Iowa STEM Education Roadmap, a proposal that ultimately shaped the STEM Council. She contributes to various working groups, including ones that developed the STEM Seal of Approval, built the Iowa STEM Regional Network and landed a partnership with Strategic America for a public awareness campaign. She has even emceed a day-long, statewide STEM Summit on behalf of the STEM Council.
The Executive Committee of the STEM Council enjoys the valued presence of Rockwell Collins President and CEO Kelly Ortberg who has served since 2014. Adriana Johnson, senior diversity and community relations specialist, also serves on the Southeast Regional STEM Advisory Board.
Along with the company's time and talent, Rockwell Collins has financially supported various events and programs of the STEM Council, including STEM Day at the Capitol, the annual STEM Summit and STEM Day at the Iowa State Fair. The annually-produced STEM Gem poster series that is mailed to thousands of Iowa classrooms each year features two Rockwell Collins' employees, including Mr. Ortberg and Barry Miglia, senior software engineer. To top it off, the company has hosted nine Teacher Externs since 2010 through the Iowa STEM Teacher Externships program.
Dietz says her involvement with the STEM Council has allowed Rockwell Collins to expand their reach statewide in STEM education.
"The STEM Initiative has been able to engage other businesses and the resources of public and private universities and community colleges to extend STEM opportunities to all corners of the state," Dietz said. "It is very satisfying to know we are exposing more Iowa students to STEM and the possibility that they might pursue a STEM career -- becoming an engineer, a dentist, a botanist or a science teacher. STEM is an investment in our future."
Thank you Cindy, Rockwell Collins and all 46 other members of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council for your contributions to Iowa's widely-acclaimed, public-private partnership that is inspiring thousands of youth day after day.