November 2020
Monthly News

Supporting Registered Apprenticeships in STEM

Investors Commit to Iowa STEM Education

Strength in STEM BEST Network

Historic Number of Scale-Up Provider Proposals Leads to Fresh, New Menu

December 10, 2020 - 7:00 p.m.
STEM Twitter Chat

December 18, 2020 - 1:00 p.m.
Northwest Regional STEM Advisory Board Meeting
Supporting Registered Apprenticeships in STEM
The STEM Council and Iowa Workforce Development hosted a STEM BEST Program Webinar “The Scoop on High School Registered Apprenticeships” during National Apprenticeship Week. The webinar was aimed to connect apprenticeship opportunities to the STEM BEST Program and to help provide access to resources—friends and funds—to launch high school registered apprenticeships.
Inspiring Iowa’s young people to become innovative, enterprising contributors to our future workforce is part of the mission of the STEM Council. The STEM BEST Program and high school Registered Apprenticeships both work towards this goal and offer work-based experiences in preparation for future careers.

The STEM Council and Iowa Workforce Development hosted a STEM BEST Program Webinar "The Scoop on High School Registered Apprenticeships" during National Apprenticeship Week. The webinar was designed to help make connections on how apprenticeship opportunities may fit well within the STEM BEST Program and to help provide access to resources—friends and funds—to launch high school registered apprenticeships.

STEM Council Executive Director Jeff Weld opened the webinar by providing an overview of the STEM BEST Program and drawing the connection to earn-and-learn models provided through high school registered apprenticeships.

Greer Sisson, State Director for the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship, provided an update on the current status of high school registered apprenticeships, of which there are currently 22 registered high school programs in Iowa.

A panel followed featuring David Ottavianelli, Strategic Workforce Projects for John Deere; Teri Vos, Director of Work-Based Learning; and Andy Zinn, Vocational Welding Trainer for Davenport West High School. The panelists shared advice on launching a high school registered apprenticeship program. Amy Beller, Registered Apprenticeship Program Coordinator for Iowa Workforce Development, wrapped up the webinar by sharing supports and resources.

Materials from the webinar, including slides, the video recording, a copy of the High School Registered Apprenticeship Playbook and more can be found at For more information about High School Registered Apprenticeships, visit
Investors Commit to
Iowa STEM Education
Each year, dozens of committed advocates representing business and nonprofits invest in Iowa STEM through grants, partner gifts and cost-sharing.
Each year, the STEM Council engages nearly 100,000 students and thousands of educators to increase interest and achievement in STEM studies and careers. Programming, events, projects and more opportunities in STEM are made possible through bi-partisan support of the Iowa Legislature, leadership and guidance from co-chair Governor Kim Reynolds, the STEM Advisory Council, regional STEM advisory boards and generous business and nonprofit partners who commit to supporting STEM education in Iowa.

In 2020, 17 corporate partners invested in Iowa STEM through grants and partner dedicated funds, including Accumold, ACT, Alliant Energy Foundation, Bayer Fund, Benevity Fund, City of Des Moines, Collins Aerospace, Google, HNI Charitable Foundation, Interstates, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), ITC Midwest, Kemin Industries, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Principal Foundation, School Administrators of Iowa and Vermeer Manufacturing.

Typifying support for STEM education, the DNR Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP CEP) and Google assured that more STEM educators will be able to take part in summer externships, covering the cost of teacher stipends, graduate credits through the University of Northern Iowa and other program needs and resources. The DNR REAP CEP grant provides opportunity for life science teachers, and the Google commitment will provide support for 10 externships specific to IT.

Other cost-sharing partners include Strategic America, Regional STEM Hub Institutions, STEM Teacher Externship workplace hosts, Scale-Up Program providers and STEM BEST partners, all of whom amplify the impact of Iowa STEM programming on more Iowa youth.
To learn more about becoming a corporate partner, contact STEM Council Associate Director Carrie Rankin at
Strength in STEM BEST Network
STEM BEST Program students from BCLUW engage local business partners to create concrete statuaries of this model as part of a manufacturing project that will promote school pride and community unity. 
The STEM acronym goes beyond science, technology, engineering and mathematics and incorporates many other disciplines and skill sets for both students and educators. BCLUW High School Science Teacher Roberta Vanderah has experienced this first-hand through their STEM BEST Program.

Vanderah’s interest in establishing a STEM BEST Program began when she attended the STEM Council’s Professional Development Palooza in 2017. The Iowa Big North STEM BEST Program partners were at the event and shared what their students were accomplishing. Their excitement and enthusiasm for the program led Vanderah to present the concept to others in her school district. She met with the school counselor, principal, school board and superintendent. Once she had the green light, she focused her efforts on trainings, organization and recruiting business partners. She created a business partner handbook and found that meeting face-to-face with local businesses was helpful in the process. When the COVID pandemic halted in-person meetings, Vanderah turned to the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning to help identify projects for students. 

“There will be glitches no matter how prepared you are. You need to be flexible,” said Vanderah. “The more people hear about it, the more interest we are going to generate. This helped fuel me.”

There has been a lot of enthusiasm from the students involved in the BCLUW Blue Apples STEM BEST Program. The students are excited that they can individually make a difference. In addition to utilizing STEM disciplines, the students have developed business plans, presented their ideas and projects to others, designed prototypes, prepared marketing and sales plans, recruited business partners and more.
Vanderah cited that the network of STEM BEST Program partners has played a critical role in helping her troubleshoot hurdles along the way.

“That is the great part of the program – helping others that want to take this journey. This is a collaborative effort throughout the state,” said Vanderah.

BCLUW Blue Apples is one of the 65 STEM BEST Programs that are part of this statewide network. To learn more about establishing a STEM BEST Program, visit or contact Tanya Hunt at
Historic Number of Scale-Up Provider Proposals Leads to Fresh, New Menu
The STEM Scale-Up Program received a record-breaking number of proposals with more than 100 developers and deliverers of exemplary STEM programs competing for scaling their programs across Iowa.
The STEM Council created an initiative eight years ago to identify some of the best STEM education lessons, activities, digital tools and other learning experiences available within Iowa and across the globe. The program is called Scale-Up, with the goal to bring top STEM education opportunities to all learners, especially those historically underserved. The intent is to seed, jumpstart or introduce to Iowans little-known teaching and learning programs proven to inspire and educate preK-12 students in both formal and informal settings. 
STEM Scale-Up Program selection is in the final stages with an all new fresh array of programs on the menu. A record-breaking number of proposals were received from more than 100 developers and deliverers of exemplary STEM programs competing for scaling their programs across Iowa as part of the 2021-2022 Scale-Up Program menu.
Scale-Up Program participants performed better on the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress compared to students who did not receive Scale-Up Programming. In 2018-2019, two percent more Scale-Up Program participants met proficient or advanced level benchmarks in mathematics, science and English language arts. Additionally, there were a higher percentage of students who participated in STEM Scale-Up Programs who were interested in pursuing a STEM career and in working in Iowa after graduation compared to all students statewide. Tens of thousands of students are expected to be impacted through the Scale-Up Program during the 2020-2021 academic year.

The annual scaling of selected programs to educators across Iowa is supported by a generous annual appropriation by the Iowa legislature alongside private sector investments.

The STEM Scale-Up Program application period opens for Iowa educators in January 2021. Stay tuned for more information at
Are you caught up on Season 2 of the STEM Essential podcast? Click below for access to all the episodes.
Click below to access STEM lessons and activities for all grade levels on the STEM Teachable Moment page.
Contact the Iowa STEM Operations Center by phone at (319) 273-2959
or by email at