February  2019

Mary Trent

NW Regional STEM Manager


 Send me an email!

Northwest Regional Advisory Board Members
A special thank you to the STEM Advisory Board
of NW Iowa
Teresa Alesch, Emmetsburg
John Bedward, Storm Lake
Kathleen Bottaro, Sioux City
Benjamin Bouza, Hawarden
Derek Brower, Orange City
Beth Bunkers, Primghar
Eric Forseth, Sioux Center
Linda Gray, Everly
Ginny Gunderson, Lake Park
Kiana Johnson, Primghar
Nancy McDowell, Sheldon
Jordan Menning, Rock Rapids
Teresa Putnam, Hartley
Brenda Welch, Meriden
Mark Zabawa, Spencer
Your Community -
Your Events

Learning happens inside and outside of the classroom.
Learning can happen to anyone at any age.

If you know of any STEM events happening,  please submit your STEM event  
learning can happen anywhere, anytime, for  anyone. 

NW STEM Teacher of the Year - JoAnne Sackett
The Northwest STEM region's honoree is JoAnne Sackett, the Tag/Explore Lab STEM Teacher at Okoboji Elementary School in Milford, IA. Mrs. Sackett uses "hands-on experiences, thought provoking activities and the implementation of universal constructs" to make her eXplore Lab collaborative and unique, according to her nomination for this award. She ends every class period with the chant, "We are MAKERS!" with her students. Last year was the first year of the Okoboji Elementary eXplore Lab, which offers unique STEM learning during student's specials and for neighboring school districts, as well. Mrs. Sackett gets to see every student in every grade and introduce interdisciplinary STEM learning with their core class curriculum, as well as additional opportunities that introduce students to STEM careers and projects.

Mrs. Sackett has brought in community resources from the Okoboji Sailing Center, the Science Center of Iowa and other regional science centers through the ASTC Science Center Passport Program, and local naturalists from the Dickinson County Nature Center to enhance her lab education. She put on a Code-In Day at the beginning of December where all elementary students spent the morning coding with different programs, and each class received a book from a business partner where the business partner was able to come in and read the book to the class and teach them about how coding is used in their business. She is also planning a STEM Night in February in partnership with the Okoboji Pioneer Parents group, where students will be able to bring their parents to the eXplore Lab for an evening of STEM.

Interdisciplinary and collaborative STEM learning is a cornerstone of Mrs. Sackett's teaching. She has collaborated with various grades and classes to weave STEM skills and concepts in with other subjects. Her Kindergarteners do a full lesson on bugs with the core classroom teachers, where they identify and label bugs, explore their habitats and then create their own insect and habitat. With her 1st graders, she combines literature, geography, engineering and math in a Bridge Building unit. Her 2nd graders test variables and learn basic science speed and distance concepts in her Zip Lines and Paper Rockets unit. For her 3rd graders, Mrs. Sackett partners with Okoboji Elementary School's music teacher, Jo Gehrke, to teach their students to code a song, build a cardboard instrument and then write and perform a piece of music to a live audience.
Mrs. Sackett incorporates the Universal Constructs into all of her STEM lessons; critical thinking, complex communication, creativity, collaboration, flexibility/adaptability and productivity/accountability. She continues to develop herself professionally as an officer of the Dickinson County Nature Center Board and as a STEM consultant to the YMCA of the Okobojis and Camp Foster. She was accepted to participate in the GenCyber Camp at Dakota State University in Madison, SD and also to attend the 2017 Minnesota TIES Conference. Prior to being in STEM education, Mrs. Sackett taught Gifted Education and served on the Iowa Talented and Gifted Board.

This award recognizes and celebrates one teacher from each of the six STEM regions who goes above and beyond to increase their student's interest in STEM. Each recipient is recognized for their dedication in representing I.O.W.A.; by being Innovative in their methods, Outstanding in their passion for education, Worldly in the way they help students see that STEM is all around them, and Academic through engaging students in the classroom to prepare them for higher education and high-demand careers. Each recipient was selected by a panel of judges after being nominated for the award by a colleague, school administrator, parent, student or community member and completing an application showcasing their contributions to STEM education. Each recipient will receive $1,500 for personal use and another $1,500 for their classroom.

Sackett and the other five recipients have each been honored with ceremonies in their classrooms with their students and peers and will also be recognized together at STEM Day at the Capitol, with Gov. and STEM Council Co-Chair Kim Reynolds and a representative from Kemin Industries the morning of Wednesday, February 13th. For more information about the award and all current and previous recipients, please visit www.stemaward.fluidreview.com.

New 2018-2019 Scale-Up Application OPEN!

Since 2011, the Iowa STEM Council has vetted high quality STEM programs available to Iowa educators in formal and informal education settings. The 2019-20 Scale-Up Program menu has been released and educators can apply now thru March 4. The Scale-Up program menu ranges from coding programs to hands-on biotechnology and agriculture projects to STEM career exploration.

Common Questions:
Who can apply?
Educators from in-school and out-of-school settings are encouraged to apply.  

Can multiple educators be listed in an application?
Yes. For example, if three fourth grade teachers from the same building are interested in applying for a program, all of the educators can be listed within one application.

I would like to apply but we have not hired the educator who would teach the program.
No worries. The application allows you to put a "placeholder" in your application. Before implementing the program, however, the placeholder will need to be replaced with an actual teacher.

Can I apply for multiple school buildings in one application?
For districts interested in applying for multiple buildings, each building will need to have its own application but within the application portal, applications can be copied to make the process of applying for buildings across a district easier.  

What do the programs provide?
Each program provides professional development and materials to implement the program. Some programs also provide an educator stipend, lodging and/or meals. More information about what is provided for each program can be found by clicking on the program title.

For more information about the process or the program menu, contact Kristine Bullock.


CASE - Food Science & Safety
Description:  Stimulate actual concepts and situations found in the food science and safety industry. This course offers hands-on activities, projects and problems in areas of food safety, chemistry, processing, product development and marketing.
Grade Level:  9-12
Setting:  In school
More information:  http://www.case4learning.org

Computer Science Discoveries
Description:  Inspire students as they build their own websites, apps, games and physical computing devices. This course takes a wide lens on computer science by covering topics such as programming, physical computing, HTML/CSS and data.
Grade:  Level: 6-10
Setting:  In school
More information:    https://newbo.co/code-org-partnership
Computer Science Fundamentals
Description:  Foster equity and diversity in the classroom, breaking down barriers and stereotypes around computer science. This course is designed to be flexible for the classroom.
Grade Level:  K-5
Setting:  In school

Computer Science Principles
Description:  Introduce students to the foundational concepts of computer science and challenge them to explore how computing and technology can impact the world. This course is a rigorous, engaging and approachable exploration of the foundational ideas of computing.
Grade Level:  9-12
Setting:  In school
More Information:    www.code.org/educate/csp
Engineering Your World
Description:  Engage learners in collaborative, student-directed projects that build creative problem-solving and engineering design skills. This course is designed to teach the value of collaborating to solve complex, modern problems and create a strong foundation for future STEM learning.
Grade Level:  9-12
Setting:  In school
More information:   http://engineeryourworld.org

Light and Shadow
Description:  Create new and worthwhile ideas while exploring light to create shadows through creativity and innovation. This course encourages teachers to re-envision their classroom, routines and schedules to optimize students' learning.
Grade Level:  preK-12
Setting : preK- In or out of school
More information:  http://regentsctr.uni.edu

Making STEM Connections
Description:  Activities that help students connect STEM to their daily lives and develop competencies essential to Iowa's future workforce. Grounded in making, safety, upcycling, creative constraints, art, and reinventing technologies. Lessons build on NGSS standards, reflect Iowa Common Core, and include National CORE Art Standards.
Grade Level:  K-9
Setting:  In school and out of school
Pint Size Science
Description:  Four hands-on modules: one introductory unit and three chosen by the educator. Features Iowa Early Learning Standards/GOLD Objectives, NGSS, Iowa Common Core math and literacy and 21st Century Learning Skills. Includes kit materials, curriculum guides, website and webinar support.
Grade Level:  PreK-2
Setting:  In school and out of school
More information:   www.sciowa.org/pss
STEM in Action
Description: Incorporate three-dimensional learning with an emphasis on authentic hands-on, problem-based learning. This curriculum follows the engineering design process of defining the problem, planning solutions, making a prototype, reflecting, communicating results and redesigning.
Grade Level:  PreK-5
Setting:  In school and out of school
More Information:   www.hand2mind.com/steminaction

STEM Innovator
Description:  Transform the classroom into incubator spaces where student teams solve real-world problems alongside industry mentors. This course prepares students with the skills and mindset to persist in STEM education, pursue STEM careers and become innovators of the future.
Grade Level:  6-12
Setting : In school and out of school

Applications will be open January 21 - March 4, 2019. Contact Mary Trent, NW STEM Regional Manager for any questions at  

Applications are Open!
Computer Science is Elementary

Application details are now available for Computer Science is Elementary. The project will transform six high-poverty elementary schools across Iowa into models of innovative computer science instruction by the 2020-2021 school year. A growing number of jobs require computer science skills. This program will help prepare students for success in computer science and future careers opportunities.

School districts and non-public school systems with an elementary building of at least 40 percent of students eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch are eligible to apply. Six awardees will be selected to receive a $50,000 planning award through a competitive award application process. One Computer Science is Elementary School will be located in each of the six regions established by the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council.

The application period will open in January 2019 and awards will be announced in the summer of 2019. The 2019-2020 school year will be used as a planning year for schools to weave computational thinking and other elements of computer science into their broader curriculum. After the Computer Science is Elementary Schools launch in August 2020, the schools will serve as a statewide resource for Iowa educators by sharing their curriculum and community engagement strategies.

The application template and additional information about the Computer Science is Elementary project can be found at www.IowaSTEM.gov/CSElementary .

Professional Development Opportunity
For STEM Scale-Up Programs

On  February 26, 2019 , NW STEM will be hosting a professional development day for teachers who have been awarded the following Scale-Up Programs:

  • Making STEM Connections
  • Ramps & Pathways
  • Pint Size Science
  • STEM in Action

This professional development day is all about networking, asking questions, sharing stories, and making plans to better utilize your STEM Scale-Up Programs.

You haven't been awarded a Scale-Up Program, No Problem!
You will spend your time with us learning about other STEM programing, help filling out an application for 2019-20 STEM Scale-Up Programs, and learning about NW STEM Checkout Items.

You will also learn about the 2019-20 STEM Scale-Up Menu and our Teacher Externship Program.

We will meet from  9:00-2:00 at the Buena Vista Campus in Storm Lake.

There is  no charge  to attend, lunch is provided, and each participate will receive a welcome gift. NW STEM will also be giving away  several  door prizes to attendees!

  • Sphero
  • Rocketbook
  • VTech Action Cam
  • Bloxel
  • Makerspace Bins
  • Eggsperts
  • Makerspace carts
  • Ozobot

Mark your calendars - You don't want to miss this one!


Checkout STEM Kits

Be sure to check out our STEM kits we have available for checkout on our website:  Resources Page  We pick up and deliver!  You can have them for an extended amount of time if needed. 

Share your Scale-Up Story with Us!

Were you awarded a Scale-Up Program this year?  If so, please share your story and pictures with us!  We will share your story in our newsletters and social media. Invite me out to see the Scale-up Program in action! 

Email: mtrent@iowalakes.edu


Check out NW STEM Website!

Northwest STEM Calendar  - Stay up-to-date on all Northwest STEM regional opportunities and even a few state-wide. Use this calendar to share your STEM events with others.
NW STEM Lending Resources - Check out the STEM lending library for educators and place you order online.
Don't forget to connect with NW STEM on social media as well!

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