Calling all Iowa workplaces:
Host a summer Iowa STEM Teacher Extern
Jennifer Poole, a mathematics and physics teacher at Estherville Lincoln Central High, externed at GKN Wheels for six weeks last summer.
Connecting schools and businesses is one of the main goals of the STEM Council. Whether that business is a global manufacturer or a rural service supplier, the Iowa STEM Teacher Externships program unites the producers of talent (schools) with the employers of talent (business and industry) for mutual benefit.
Over the eight years of this successful program nearly 120 Iowa workplaces have hosted more than 340 Teacher Externs for six-week summer immersions that help companies' bottom lines while improving STEM teaching in local schools. A map of workplace hosts across Iowa may be viewed here.
Major employers such as Kemin Industries and John Deere, as well as regional manufacturers like Rosenboom Machine and Tool and American Profol, have all benefited by welcoming in teachers who take on projects that bring value to the company while equipping them to modernize school lessons that guide students to careers in the community.
Take for example GKN Wheels in Estherville which has hosted nine Teacher Externs since 2012 and plans to host three more this summer. Last year, GKN developed projects needing completion that suited teachers of industrial technology, physics and statistics.
Jennifer Poole, a mathematics and physics teacher at Estherville Lincoln Central High, gathered data on paint usage and created a new plan that updated paint usage estimates, preventing future waste and saving the company money. Now, she has taken this project to the classroom, empowering students to find their own solutions to the problem.
"Another big part I'd want to bring back to my classroom is the fact that sometimes there's not just one correct answer," she said. "Very rarely in life do we have every little thing accounted for, and we need to be able to decide which factors are important and which ones we can leave out or just estimate."
If your business or workplace is interested in hosting a Teacher Extern for summer 2017, please fill out an interest form or contact

December 5-11, 2016
Computer Science Education Week and the "Hour of Code"
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January 24, 2017

STEM Scale-Up Program Application for Educators opens
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Iowa STEM Operations Center
University of Northern Iowa
214 East Bartlett
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0298
PHONE 319-273-2959

STEM BEST® Partners triple in two years

Juniors and seniors at the STEM BEST® Partnership
of Charles City, New Hampton, Osage and Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock are hard at work
mapping out community linkages to school content.
Around this same time in 2014, the STEM Council first welcomed the inaugural five STEM BEST® (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) Partners to the team. Two years later, those innovative partners have more than tripled to 18, consisting of 35 school districts working with more than 150 local employers and building school+business partnerships relevant to their community's needs.
Earlier this month, the STEM Council's executive committee voted unanimously to award 10 new STEM BEST Partners. Each one had to describe in an in-depth proposal their community's version of STEM BEST, noting how they would develop STEM curriculum driven by industry need and create valuable partnerships with business and higher education.
One of the new STEM BEST Partners is the first elementary school awardee that aspires to establish an in-school coffee shop in partnership with a local coffee brewing business to show students the science behind the bean growing and roasting before creating their own version to sell. Other new BEST partners include a consortium of seven school districts working together to bring work-based learning projects from local businesses to students; and a parochial high school focused on STEM career exploration using virtual reality.
Each awardee received $25,000 thanks to a portion of STEM's state appropriation and private investments from Corporate Partners. The 2016 STEM BEST Partners are cost-sharing a total of $566,234 and bring in 60 business and community partners:
  • Assumption High School in Davenport
  • Boone Community School District
  • Fort Madison Community High School
  • IKM-Manning Community School District
  • Muscatine Community School District
  • North Cedar Elementary School in Cedar Falls
  • Spencer High School
  • Story County Consortium of Ames, Ballard, Collins-Maxwell, Colo-NESCO, Gilbert, Nevada, and Roland-Story School Districts
  • Waukee APEX
  • West Delaware County Community School District
For more information about these models, please visit .

"Making STEM Connections" in and out of classrooms

Milford Memorial Library in Northwest Iowa helps students explore their "inner-tinkerer" through "Making STEM Connections," a program on the 2016-17 STEM Scale-Up Program menu.
STEM learning often takes place beyond school classrooms. Other outstanding venues where kids learn STEM include museums, camping trips with their scout troop, at the zoo or on a 4-H outing and certainly among the book stacks at libraries.
"What we like most about 'Making STEM Connections' is the ability it has given us to expand our programming and bring more students into the library," said Gillian Anderson, assistant director of Milford Memorial Library.
Anderson's library is one of hundreds of valuable Iowa STEM partners known as informal or out-of-school groups, charged with carrying the STEM message beyond the school day.

This "STEM for all" focus is key when building the menu for the STEM Scale-Up Program, ensuring that opportunities exist for both formal and informal educators to bring great STEM to youth. The Science Center of Iowa's (SCI) "Making STEM Connections," a program on the 2016-17 STEM Scale-Up Program menu, is one that both schools and informal learning environments thrive on.

Anderson leads the program at her library in Northwest Iowa the third Wednesday of every month. The library is one of 175 organizations -- both schools and informals -- in the state to receive the program through the STEM Scale-Up Program. With the help of more than 430 educators trained this summer, students awaken their "inner-tinkerers" to build STEM skills.

"A classroom using 'Making STEM Connections' might have students learning how to fuse plastics to create textiles or assemble an art-bot using a DC motor and batteries," said Renee Harmon, vice president of science learning at SCI. "'Making STEM Connections' is structurally supported by cross-curricular experiences and opportunities, including literacy and mathematics, to reinforce the maker foundation of active learning and problem solving."

Click Making STEM Connections to learn more about the program or visit Otherwise, educators can mark their calendars for the 2017-18 application, opening Tuesday, January 24, 2017.

MVP for Iowa STEM: MidAmerican Energy Company and Kathryn Kunert

November's MVP for Iowa STEM is MidAmerican Energy Company and their Vice President of Economic Connections and Integration Kathryn Kunert, a member of the STEM Council.
November's MVP for Iowa STEM is fulfilling the company's mission for "power" to light up the STEM movement and heat a passion for STEM across Iowa. MidAmerican Energy Company and its Vice President of Economic Connections and Integration Kathryn Kunert, a STEM Council member since 2015, invest valuable time in Iowa STEM with resources and expertise that energize the movement to produce the next generation of innovators for mid-America.
"We believe business and industry has an obligation to step up and work with schools to see how we can help prepare students to succeed in STEM, which are integral to the work of not only MidAmerican Energy but pretty much every other business," Kunert said.
Kunert serves on the Business Engagement working group of the STEM Council to create ideas on how to build new partnerships between the private sector and Iowa STEM. Her connection to the STEM Council and the insights she brings back to her company have made MidAmerican Energy Company an invaluable Corporate Partner.
The company took part in the filming of the 2016 STEM PSA, hosted a Teacher Extern in 2015 as part of the Iowa STEM Teacher Externships program and has generously supported Iowa STEM with unrestricted gifts that have funded additional STEM Scale-Up Program awards, STEM BEST® and STEM RLE partners and past STEM conferences and events.
"Jobs may be the outcome, but it starts with education," Kunert said. "STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy and enables the next generation of innovators. Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy. An increased commitment from business and industry to support STEM education is important, now more than ever because STEM education will create the pipeline for future workers that will keep Iowa moving forward."
Among the outstanding business partners of Iowa STEM, Kathryn Kunert and MidAmerican Energy Company are exemplars. Thank you Kathryn and the 46 of your Council colleagues who propel forward the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council.