June 2020
Monthly News

Iowa STEM Teachers Immerse in Equity

Work-Based Learning for Teachers - Summer Externships

Shaping the Future of STEM

Twitter Chat a Powerful Tool Toward STEM Equity

July 13, 2020 - 12:00 p.m.
Southwest Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting

July 14, 2020 - 8:00 p.m.
Live STEM Twitter Chat

July 23, 2020 - 1:00 p.m.
Northeast Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting
Iowa STEM Teachers
Immerse in Equity
Dr. Aris Winger facilitated a two-day, virtual professional development workshop for educators in Iowa focused on equity, diversity and inclusion in the STEM classroom.
One hundred K-to-college educators recently virtually convened to participate in the Fostering Equity in the STEM Classroom professional development experience presented by the Governor’s Advisory STEM Council. The two-day workshop was facilitated by Aris Winger, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Mathematics Enrichment for Diversity and Learning (MEDAL) and co-facilitators Pamela Harris, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics at Williams College, and Dwight Williams, Ph.D., postdoctoral research associate at Iowa State University.

The primary goal of the workshop was to equip participants to be more effective in supporting the success of all students across race, gender, ability and other diversity dimensions in STEM classrooms. They engaged in powerful discussions regarding the definition of equity, the impact that careful attention to equity has on students, the importance of equity in STEM, the interconnectedness of these relationships and how to implement change in the classroom.

According to Winger, “We have the power to transform the lives of our students for better or worse. It may be as innocuous as a word, a look, a laugh, a smile or a frown. It may be as overt as a snide comment or loving praise. All of these potential movements, behaviors and actions reside within our own power and intention. Each day of our lives and careers let us move in the direction of behaving and performing with love in every interaction with our students.”

The workshop included a combination of group instruction, small group breakouts and asynchronous activities. The professional development experience will culminate for participants this Fall with three follow-up webinars, followed by an assessment of the achievement of the goal.

For more information about STEM Council events and programs, please visit our website at IowaSTEM.gov .
Work-Based Learning for Teachers - Summer Externships
Industrial Technology Teacher John Doornenbal is a 2020 STEM Teacher Extern at Interstates in Sioux Center, where he is gaining experience and career knowledge that can be applied in his classroom at Sioux Center High School.
John Doornenbal, an industrial technology teacher at Sioux Center High School, is spending six weeks of his summer as a STEM Teacher Extern for Interstates, an electrical automation company in Sioux Center. As part of his externship experience, Doornenbal is learning about tasks in which each employee is involved and the skills needed to complete the task. This includes both technical skills such as welding, measuring, reading a plan, assembly, conduit bending and threading, as well as soft skills such as teamwork, communication, adaptability, attitude and self-motivation. Through his experience as a STEM Teacher Extern, Doornenbal will have gained firsthand experience and knowledge of local careers and will help bring curriculum learned in the classroom to life.

Despite the pandemic, forty-eight other Iowa teachers, almost two-thirds capacity, are safely participating in the STEM Teacher Externship Program this summer. Working side-by-side with knowledgeable and skilled industry professionals, teachers are placed in fields that apply to their interests and skills. These externships provide educators with exposure to answer questions about real-world application and prepare students for future career opportunities.

The externship experience helps form partnerships between local workplaces and teachers that can ultimately help enhance the community’s future workforce. Of workplace hosts surveyed in 2019, most valued outcomes included:
  • Workplace relevance brought to schools
  • Establishment of school-business partnerships
  • Increased interest in future workforce
  • Elevated awareness of their business in the community

Marc Benedict, TLC master teacher at Graettinger-Terril Community School District, is serving in an assistant coordinator role for the STEM Teacher Externships Program this summer. As a former Teacher Extern, Benedict understands the long-lasting impact this experience can have for educators, students, businesses and the local community.

"It has been exciting to be able to support a program that has not only helped me grow both personally and professionally, but helps develop the crucial relationships between businesses and teachers across the state," said Benedict.

To learn more about the STEM Teacher Externship Program, visit IowaSTEM.gov/externships .
Shaping the Future of STEM
Launched at the January meeting of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, five working groups are convening virtually to make recommendations to the Council for shaping the future of STEM in Iowa.
Working groups have historically incubated actions of the STEM Council, including why and how we build a network, crafted the STEM Scale-Up Program, imagined the STEM BEST Program, launched the Innovation Fund, Seal of Approval and more.

Top priorities for the future were identified by Council members at their January 30 meeting. The four most commonly expressed became working groups to bring recommendations to the Council for future projects and programming at the October 30 meeting. A fifth Working Group has been charged with studying the viability of a name change and/or change in focus for the STEM Council.

The five new working groups that will shape the future of STEM in Iowa are:
  • STEM Career Exploration and Guidance will recommend strategies to enhance student career exploration and guidance, especially early exposure. The group is co-chaired by Council members Rob Denson and Wendy Batchelder.
  • District Best Practices in STEM will recommend strategies to scale successful programs and practices at the school district level which amplify and accelerate STEM education district-wide. The group is chaired by South Central Regional Advisory Board member Mauree Haage.
  • Equity in STEM will recommend strategies to promote equity, especially means by which the Council can increase the participation rate of underrepresented students in current STEM programs. The group is co-chaired by Council member Stephanie Laird and North Central Regional Advisory Board member Sara Nelson.
  • STEM to STEAM? will develop recommended actions for the Council in order to honor and recognize the importance of the Arts, Humanities and other disciplines to the fulfillment potential for STEM-rich lives and careers of young Iowans, whether that be changing the Council’s name and/or in other fashion(s) broadening the Council's transdisciplinary reach. The group is co-chaired by Council member Chris Kramer and ally and advocate Yen Verhoeven. 
  • STEM Teacher Preparation and Professional Development will recommend strategies to support improvements in STEM teacher preparation and professional development that equip educators to reflect the latest research and thinking in convergent skills and concepts, community partnership, computational thinking, entrepreneurial education and other hallmarks of STEM. The group is co-chaired by Council member Sharon Rosenboom and ally and advocate Dana Atwood Blaine.

Members of these working groups include STEM Advisory Council members and other academic, business and nonprofit leaders and passionate volunteers throughout Iowa. There is still time to join one if interested. Contact Info@IowaSTEM.gov .
Twitter Chat a Powerful Tool Toward STEM Equity
The STEM Council’s operations team employs a variety of tactics in striving for equity in Iowa STEM education and building bright futures for all Iowa students. On behalf of the STEM Council, earlier this month the operations team hosted a Twitter Chat to share perspectives and ideas for serving the underserved in STEM education.

Participants expressed universal commitment that STEM is for ALL, however one size does not fit all students. Getting to know students, meeting them where they are and helping them persevere can lead to a stronger education. As one participant shared, “It’s not a race, it’s a journey. There are multiple routes.”

There were many great responses and contributions to the STEM Twitter Chat. Some other takeaways include:
  • Focusing on students who struggle to find someone who looks like them in STEM fields.
  • Racial and ethnic minorities make up only five percent of the STEM workforce, fields that provide growing economic opportunities.
  • Identifying barriers to participation.
  • Identifying opportunities to connect underserved students to role models and mentors.
  • Encouraging a “give it a try” approach.
  • Continuing to educate key stakeholders including parents, employers and educators on why it’s critical to improve support for underserved students in STEM, and how.

The STEM Council welcomes suggestions and additional thoughts by emailing info@iowastem.gov .

Join us every second Tuesday of the month at 8:00 PM for future STEM Twitter Chats. More information and archived chat can be found at IowaSTEM.gov/iastemchat-archives .
More Ways to Support STEM in Iowa
Are you interested in supporting STEM education in Iowa? There are many ways to get involved, including program support, application review, working groups and more! For more information, contact STEM Council Associate Director Carrie Rankin at rankin@iowastem.gov .
Contact the Iowa STEM Operations Center by phone at (319) 273-2959
or by email at info@IowaSTEM.gov.