Northwest Iowa STEM Newsletter

March 2023

Mary Trent
NW Regional STEM Manager
Contact me at [email protected]
Northwest Regional Advisory Board Members

Tina Benton,

Sioux City

Ben Bouza, 


Beth Bunkers, Primghar

Tyler Hahn,


Lex Jacobson,


Jordan Menning, Rock Rapids

Andrew Roelfs,

Sioux Center

Mary Skopec,

Spirit Lake

Brenda Welch, Meriden

Dr. Tanner Metz, Estherville

Dr. Michelle Metzger, Storm Lake

Check out NW STEM Web Site!

Stay up-to-date on all Northwest STEM regional opportunities and even a few statewide. Use this calendar to share your STEM events with others.

Check out the STEM lending library for educators and place your order online.
Don't forget to connect with NW STEM on social media as well!
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NW STEM March Events

March 2 - O'Brien County Economic Group Presentation

March 3 - Prairie Lakes AEA Curriculum Team Presentation

March 9 - Librarian STEM Fair Presentation

March 18 - Carroll Co. STEM Festival PS-5th

March 24 - NW STEM Advisory Board Meeting- West Lyon

March 27-28 - Carroll Co. STEM Festival 6th-12th Grade

March 30 - National K-5 Computer Science Summit Presentation

2023 NW STEM Iowa STEM Teacher Awardee:

Shane Peterson, West Lyon CSD

The Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and Kemin Industries have announced the recipients of the 2023 Iowa STEM Teacher Award, sponsored by Kemin Industries.

The Northwest STEM region’s honoree is Shane Peterson, 8-12 Industrial Technology Instructor at West Lyon Community School District in Inwood, Iowa. He was recognized for his work in transforming the industrial technology program at the West Lyon Community School District from a basic woodworking program into an impactful STEM program over his 10 years at the school. 

Mr. Peterson has acquired new technology such as 3D printers and a full-sized CNC table lathe, encouraged more female students to get involved in industrial technology, and received over $200,000 in grants for his classroom. He strives to have his program be welcoming to students of all skill levels or experience. When nominating Mr. Peterson for this award, one student wrote, “He listens to us, our ideas, and our opinions in ways that not everyone does. He makes us and our thoughts feel important. He sets a standard on how to push yourself, others, and how to be a well-rounded and amazing person.”

Mr. Peterson also finds opportunities for his curriculum to connect with the community and STEM-focused business partners as a 2021-2022 STEM BEST+HD (High Demand) Recipient. His students are currently collaborating with the local daycare to build a storage shed for their facility, partnering with a local nursing home to develop and prepare birdhouse activity kits, completing Ford technician training modules, and working with a local production facility to create prototypes using 3D printing and modeling software—all opportunities for students to gain valuable learning experiences while connecting to their community.

Now in its ninth year, the Iowa STEM Teacher Award is given annually to one full-time, licensed preK-12 teacher from each of the six STEM regions in Iowa. Each recipient is honored for their efforts to foster enthusiasm and inspire a passion for STEM that goes beyond the classroom and helps prepare students for future high-demand careers.


As a recipient of the 2023 Iowa STEM Teacher Award, presented by Kemin Industries, Peterson will receive $1,500 to use for his classroom and $1,500 for personal use. He recently received his award and a small celebration at his school and will later be honored, along with his fellow recipients, in a recognition ceremony during STEM day at the Fair at the Iowa State Fair. For more information about the award and all current and previous recipients, please visit

STEM Day at the Capitol

Iowa STEM Council and partners gathered at the State Capitol Building to showcase our STEM Programs on February 8, 2023. Legislators had a chance to see first had how our state's tax dollars are so wisely spent on wonderful STEM programing and the impact it is having on our students across Iowa. We are so grateful to have a State Government who cares about STEM education in Iowa! NW STEM superstars from Storm Lake, Kingsley-Pierson, Okoboji, and Spirit Lake all shined brightly! Thank you to the members of the NW STEM Advisory Council who also attended. We are so fortunate to have such passionate people help to guide our efforts to promote STEM education in the Northwest!

Gehlen Catholic Engineers with

STEM in Action

We love to hear from our educators out there using past and present Scale-up Programs! Way to keep the sustainability going Gehlen Catholic!

The TK students from Gehlen Catholic have been working with the STEM in Action kit Sunny Sandbox. The Gehlen Catholic TK students have become engineers and have worked in small groups to solve a problem with a sandbox being too hot and wet after it rains. 

Each group has to plan, build, test, and synthesize the information gathered to create a cover for a sandbox to keep the sand cool and dry. Using 5 materials they had to figure out which material blocked the sunlight, which material blocked the rain, and which shape is the biggest (comparing squares and rectangles), the actual building of the frame, and testing the frame with a cover on it.  

Katie Christoffel, TK Teacher

Spencer CSD STEM BEST x 2

NW STEM Advisory Board held their February meeting virtually and was joined by Spencer CSD's STEM Best Programs. They shared their 2 branches of STEM BEST programs with us that give students real world of work experiences that prepare them for the their future and their passions!

Nate Wendt, Spencer Business Teacher and STEM BEST Mentor for the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, Alex Dreier, Work-Based Learning Assistant for Spencer CSD and Spencer Chamber. Students JD and Maddie Spencer CSD have been involved in the STEM BEST program for 10 years, receiving one of the first STEM BEST awards in the NW STEM region.

No Boundaries (NOBO) - Students who participate in the NOBO program are given a chance to work on real initiatives with real businesses in areas of interest. Each student selects 2 projects to work on that involve collaboration with a local business in project management and problem solving. Businesses attend the Partner Palooza event where students learn of their proposed projects. Student outcomes include improved social skills, time management, problem solving with community partners and mentors.

Extended Career Experiences (ECEs) - This option provides students with experience in the outside world through career exploration and career experiences. Similar to No Boundaries, students complete college credits through online courses.

This is a 10 year program with 50 students participating. Students are placed in as many experiences as possible as they design their own path exploring career options.

Below are links to their presentations to learn more about their programs.

No Boundaries
Extended Career Experiences

Computer Science is Elementary Mentorship Project

A new project has been launched, Computer Science is Elementary Mentorship Project. The Computer Science is Elementary (CS is E) Project Schools Mentors will provide guidance and support to other elementary schools across the state that are creating and implementing their Computer Science plans for their district in line with the Department of Education legislative requirements. We hope this mentorship help schools to will meet the Iowa Department of Education legislative requirements with high engagement and fidelity. NW STEM Regional Manager, Mary Trent and NW AEA Consultant, Erin Chute will manage the mentors.

To Request a Visit from a CSE Mentor

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! 

NW STEM Checkout System is OPEN!

NW STEM Checkout system has many great STEM Scale-Up kits as well as other materials perfect for classrooms, homeschools, libraries, and after school groups! And the best part, everything is FREE!!

We utilize the AEA van system to make deliveries of all our kits. You can keep the kits as long as you need them and simply set them out for the AEA van to pick up. It's as simple as that!

You can find a complete list of our items and check out form here: