May 2020
Monthly News

Iowa's STEM BEST Future Workforce

STEM Essential - Voices of Edu-nomic Innovation

Regional STEM Managers Adapt Family Festivals

Scale-Up Professional Development Goes Online

June 9, 2020 - 8:00 p.m.
Live STEM Twitter Chat

June 16, 2020 - 1:00 p.m.
South Central Regional STEM Advisory Board Virtual Meeting

June 18-19, 2020 - 9:00 a.m.
Fostering Equity in the STEM Classroom Professional Development Workshop
Iowa's STEM BEST Future Workforce
Middle school students enrolled in No Boundaries, a STEM BEST Program model, traveled to visit Iowa BIG North and further the STEM BEST collaborative spirit between school districts.
Growing the number of community collaborations involving school and business partnerships through the STEM BEST Program continues to be a goal for the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. By helping expand the learning continuum from school to careers, the benefits of this program have been felt throughout communities across Iowa.

STEM BEST helps create a culture of cooperation and innovation to assist in the development of Iowa’s education and economy. The need for a future workforce that is adaptable and innovative is apparent now more than ever for the state.

Some school districts have used this out-of-the-box thinking and collaboration across boundaries and district lines to provide opportunities for students and educators that translates back to their local communities. STEM BEST Programs Iowa BIG North, a four-district consortium of Charles City, New Hampton, Osage and Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock school districts and No Boundaries, a three-district consortium of Okoboji, Graettinger-Terril and Ruthven-Ayrshire school districts have applied this model to allow their students and educators the benefit of shared learning - demonstrating that working together through adversities leads to new opportunities. 

Fostering future opportunities for Iowa’s students and communities has created authentic learning in every corner of the state and in communities of all sizes. The number of STEM BEST Program applications are on track for a record setting year as the June 15 application deadline fast approaches. This demonstrates enthusiasm and desire for work-based learning opportunities and partnerships among Iowa schools and workplaces.

To complete an application or learn more about a STEM BEST Program partner in your backyard, visit .
STEM Essential - Voices of
Edu-nomic Innovation
You’ve heard STEM education is essential, but have you ever thought about why? The STEM Council is launching its first ever podcast series, called STEM Essential . This five-part podcast series addresses edu-nomic innovation - where education and economic development merge to improve lives and communities.

 The podcasts feature Iowa experts sharing insights about the impact of STEM education on Iowa’s students now and what strong STEM education will mean for their futures, with host Jeff Weld, STEM Council Executive Director.

Podcast guests for the five-episode pilot:
  • Dr. Aris Winger, co-founder and CEO of Mathematics Enrichment for Diversity and Learning (MEDAL) on Equity in STEM.
  • Kathryn Kunert, vice president of economic connections and integration for MidAmerican Energy on K-12 as Workforce Development.
  • Dr. Mark Putnam, President of Central College on Higher Education STEM.
  • Emily Wilkerson, chemical engineering undergraduate at Iowa State University on pursuing a STEM career.
  • State Senator Chris Cournoyer on Legislating STEM.

The podcast is co-sponsored by Collins Aerospace and MidAmerican Energy, proud partners of the Iowa STEM Council.

To listen, visit . New episodes will be available weekly through June.
Regional STEM Managers Adapt Family Festivals
The Regional STEM Network Team meets regularly to align planning and implementation efforts of STEM Council programming throughout Iowa.
Family STEM Festivals have traditionally been fun-filled and educational events that spark interest in STEM in communities across the six STEM regions in Iowa. Festivals are held for learners of all ages and feature exciting and engaging hands-on STEM activities generated by community partners and workplaces.

Regional STEM Managers, along with dedicated planning committees and volunteers, plan and facilitate these festivals each year. During the 2018-2019 academic year, 64 STEM Festivals were held, engaging approximately 24,000 Iowans.

Housed at six competitively selected and cost-sharing Regional Hub Institutions—the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, Iowa Lakes Community College, Southwest Community College, Drake University, and the University of Iowa/Kirkwood Community College, the Regional STEM Managers are connected and integrated within schools, colleges, libraries, Extensions, AEA, businesses, nonprofits, local and state government offices, among others that make up Iowa’s STEM community.

When the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Iowa, many STEM Festivals were canceled or postponed. The Regional STEM Managers and Regional STEM Advisory Boards quickly shifted focus to developing new ways to encourage continuous STEM learning during this time. From developing STEM Activity BINGO, STEM scavenger hunts, planning virtual STEM events and more, the Regional STEM Managers are hard at work adapting STEM programming, events and activities to be delivered in a safe and meaningful way in each region.

To learn more about the STEM activities in your region or to contact your Regional STEM Manager, visit .
Scale-Up Professional Development Goes Online
Iowa Library for the Blind was a recipient of the STEM Scale-Up Program Pint Size Science in 2019-2020 and shared about their experience at the 2020 STEM Day at the Capitol.
Each summer, hundreds of educators across Iowa attend professional development training to prepare for implementation of the STEM Scale-Up Programs during the upcoming school year. This year, training is looking a little different.

Just as many in-person gatherings have been adjusted due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the STEM Network Team and the STEM Scale-Up Program providers are swiftly making adjustments as well. Shifting from multiple in-person trainings across the state and applying STEM solutions, all STEM Scale-Up Program trainings will take place virtually through various technological methods and platforms.

Thirteen high-quality STEM programs were selected in January to “scale-up” in PreK-12 schools, afterschool programs and other educational settings in Iowa. Regional STEM Managers and Regional STEM Advisory Boards selected award recipients based on need, student diversity, geographic distribution, capacity to sustain, among other factors.

The STEM Scale-Up Program has a history of positively impacting student performance. In 2018-2019, STEM Scale-Up Program participants performed better on the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress compared to students who did not receive STEM Scale-Up Programming. On average, two percent more STEM Scale-Up Program participants met or exceeded proficiency benchmarks in mathematics and science.

Since 2012, funding from the Iowa legislature has enabled more than 600,000 students to take part in these effective learning models. The STEM Scale-Up Program is expected to impact an estimated tens of thousands of students during the 2020-2021 academic year.

More information about the STEM Scale-Up Program can be found at .
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 .
Contact the Iowa STEM Operations Center by phone at (319) 273-2959
or by email at