Fall 2020 SC STEM Hub Newsletter
October Opportunity Knocks
Let's Conntect!

SC Regional Manager:

Website: https://scstemhub.drake.edu/
Collier-Scripps Hall #314/317
2702 Forest Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50031
In the News
  • Nominate an Outstanding STEM Teacher
  • Equity Begins with a Solid Education
  • NewBoCo Expands Virtual Programs
  • Parent Strategies for Virtual Ed
  • STEM Resources
  • Pella BEST Grows
  • Meet Major Jen
  • Program Providers Sought
  • Board News
Pella's BEST Grows Community Partners
Photo courtesy of the Pella PEERS program website.
Pella Community Schools’ PEERS program received one of the 12 Iowa STEM BEST awards this fall. PEERS, which is an acronym for Partnership for Excellent Educational Resources in STEM, introduces students to local careers by connecting industry professionals to classroom teachers.

Program History
While the program has been successfully operating for several years, this award creates the opportunity for leaders to build out lanes of career development in STEM areas that include: awareness, career experience, work-based learning, and employment/professional growth. Using existing infrastructure, the program can evolve to meet growing community needs.

“The largest limitation to the expansion of our local industries is the available workforce," said Lowell Ernst, Director of K-12 Instruction. “This plan is intended to employ our students locally, benefitting all of us.

Expansion Plans
The original business partners included Vermeer, 3-M and Pella Windows, and teachers could sign up for a menu of offerings. Teri Vos, Pella’s Work-Based Learning Coordinator, said the expansion will include year-round programming and the inclusion of younger students. “We kept hearing that interest in STEM must be]gin much earlier—in elementary school,” said Vos. “It’s too late if a student’s first introduction comes in high school.”

Vos also noted that the award includes support for the intentional data tracking of how these STEM resources impact the decisions students make in post-secondary education and career choices. Students benefit from the program by receiving a great education, and businesses benefit from having a qualified pool of local talent. “We plan to develop career pathways in our region that will offer them the opportunity for a high paying job in a place they can be proud to call home,” said Ernst.

Spread the Word
Vos invites other area schools to check out their PEERS program. While this school year may not be the best for trying new things, it could be a planning year. "This is a long-term solution. We're looking at the end goals, and we would like to open the door for other districts to engage."

If your school would like to start their own version of a school-business partnership, Ernst offers this advice: “You need to find the individuals in schools and industry who have the vision and the authority to allocate resources and can see the big picture. We will rise or fall together.”

Pella stands ready as other communities seek resources. For more information or to contact Vos or Ernst, please visit the PEERS website.
Need a Way to Say Thank-You?
Nominate a Teacher!
Please take a moment to nominate a special STEM teacher in your life. Play the video above for more information.
The Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and Kemin Industries joined together to honor teachers who are inspiring Iowa’s students to develop a passion for STEM subjects.

Who should you nominate?
Teachers making a significant difference in the lives of students by providing excellent curriculum, encouraging lifelong learning, and inspiring a passion for STEM beyond the classroom and into the future.

Who can nominate?
Students, parents, administrators, other teachers, community members, engaged businesses--anyone!

When should you do it?
Today! All nominations must be in by October 9, 2020.

Why do it?
This is a challenging year to be a teacher. Nominating someone for the award is a way to say "thank you," "I see you," or "good job." This is your opportunity to make someone's day!
Meet Major Jen
Serving Both Students & Country
Above: Major Jen works with students at the 2020 I'll Make Me a World Festival. Below: She's pictured at STEM Day at the Capital.
Pilot, Teacher, All-Around Do-Gooder--Major Jen is our own STEM super woman! She joined the SC STEM Hub’s Advisory Board last spring. If she looks familiar, it's because she often volunteers for community STEM events.
STEM in the Military
For Major Jen, STEM careers and education go hand in hand. She not only serves the region as a STEM board member, but she also serves our country. She’s a Major in the Iowa Air National Guard. Her job? She flies remotely piloted aircraft on the other side of the world, and she does it all from right here in Des Moines.
Just like flying an aircraft, her path to STEM has been both surprising and steady. Several years ago, she switched from being a 5th grade classroom teacher to teaching all elementary students in her district as the STEM teacher. “It was an amazing experience,” she said, “and I loved seeing students light up as they realized just how much fun science and engineering can be!”
STEM Outreach
More recently, Major Jen has combined her experiences with students with her military knowledge to build a STEM Outreach Program for the Iowa National Guard. Her goal is to grow a program that will bring military members into schools and communities to share their vast STEM knowledge as it applies to military jobs.
“So much of what we do in the Guard is STEM centered,” she said, “and many military members don’t even realize it. Our goal is to excite, inspire, and support students of all ages to consider careers in STEM and know there are multiple pathways to achieve great careers!”
Inspired by a Teacher
Like so many other accomplished STEM professionals, a teacher piqued Major Jen's early interest in STEM. “When I was in 6th grade, I had a science teacher named Mr. King. He showed me just how much fun we could have with science, and that was eye-opening for me! Back then, I wanted to be either a teacher or a marine biologist, which I think meant I wanted to train the dolphins and killer whales at Sea World. Turns out I was meant to be a teacher.”

Preparation + Opportunity
Major Jen worked hard in school and was active in sports and activities, so she was prepared when the opportunity came to join the Air National Guard. “I truly believe that ‘luck’ happens when preparation and opportunity meet!”
Today, she reaches out to students across the state and shares this advice: “Try new things, keep an open mind, and work hard in school so that you can be ready when you hear about an interesting opportunity! You never know what your experiences are preparing you for or where your path can lead!”

If you'd like learn more about Iowa Air National Guard's Educational Resources, visit their website.
STEM Equity Work Continues
Iowa STEM is committed to improving equity issues in education. Here's a snapshot of the opportunities from Iowa STEM and our friends in the Iowa STEM Network that are available right now.


  • Join Iowa STEM the second Tuesday of the month at 8:00 PM for Twitter Chats. More information and archived chat can be found at IowaSTEM.gov/iastemchat-archives.


  • Dr. Kimberly Wayne created Jewels Academy to bring diverse learners together. She hosts classes, math tutoring sessions, and workshops for girls who are interested in STEM. The focus is to increase STEM diversity, and every female is welcome. Registration is open now, with scholarships availalbe for those in need. Wayne is also a powerful community speaker. Click to learn more: http://jewelsacademy.com/home.htm.

  • Pi515 celebrates diversity by supporting refugee and underserved students. Founded by Nancy Mwirotsi, if you have an interest in technology, this is the group for you. The organization has support structure in place for students ranging from elementary school to college. Click to learn more or volunteeer: https://www.pursuitofinnovation.org/

  • The Iowa Department for the Blind offers no-cost library services to Iowans of any age who cannot read traditional print materials. Besides being a Scale-Up awardee, they have hosted their own STEM festival and participated in many other community STEM events. In addition, they can assist with universal design resources, employment connections and workplace accessibility needs. Sarah Willeford, Library Director, can help you connect: https://blind.iowa.gov/staff-listing.

Finally, if you work with underserved students and need STEM resources OR if you provide a STEM resource applicable to this effort, please reach out to Dr. Sarah Derry at the SC STEM Hub and mention STEM Equity in the subject line. She can facilitate a connection.
It Takes a Village Community STEM Resources
Teachabale Moment is a virtual collection, curated and collected by the STEM Network Team. It has lessons, activities, and videos, organized by grade-level. The materials can be used in a variety of ways: classroom integration, afterschool programming, festivals, or at home around the kitchen table.

We'd love to hear if you found the resources useful. Email the hub with stories, photos or ideas.
The Iowa Afterschool Alliance (IAA) has been working to provide family support for the last 20 years. Their goal is to improve access to high quality out-of-school programming. Iowa STEM partners with the group to bring Scale-up and events to traditional schools offering outside-of-the-day programming and community groups, like the Boys and Girls Clubs.

We asked Britney Samuelson, Network Lead, and Crystal Hall, 21CCLC Monitoring and Support Manager, to provide some insight into Iowa's afterschool resources.


Iowa Afterschool Alliance Q&A
HUB: What impact can afterschool programming have on student learning, in STEM and beyond? 
IAA: Afterschool programming provides the opportunity for students to get hands-on learning experiences that there may not be time for during the school day. Through experiments, field trips, and everything in between, afterschool programs provide informal, experiential learning without tests and quizzes. These opportunities can help students think in new ways and make meaningful connections to the content they’re learning at school.
HUB: Do you have one or two tips on how afterschool educators (or parents at home) can use the time after school in productive, creative ways? 
IAA: First, high quality afterschool programs often incorporate youth voice into their activities. By giving youth meaningful choices in the activities that they do after school, educators ensure that the students will be engaged and that student passions are being supported.
Second, afterschool programs often incorporate community partners into their programming. Educators should consider the assets they have in their community and think of ways to bring them into their program. For instance, a doctor could visit the program, talk about their career, and bring tools so students could listen to their heart beats or test their reflexes. A retiree in the community who has a passion for gardening could help the afterschool program plant a garden and talk about the life cycle of a plant.

HUB: Many resources have gone virtual this fall. What are some of your favorite online resources for afterschool learning?
IAA: Throughout the past several months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Iowa Afterschool Alliance has been compiling and sharing resources for students to do after school, either at home or at their programs. We have compiled STEM resources and several others here: https://www.iowaafterschoolalliance.org/covid-19.
Some of our favorites include:

This year in particular, it really does take a village, or community, to raise a child. Afterschool experiences, whether organized or at-home, help curious kids learn about and understand their changing world.
How Parents Play a Role in Virtual Learning
With changes in education due to schools' pandemic responses, parents are tasked with the challenge of supporting virtual learning. We know home-based learning is most successful when students, families, and educators collaborate, but what does that look like?

The table is from a document called Supporting Equitable Home-Based Science Teaching and Learning During Extended COVID-19 School Closures. It provides examples of how to turn good intentions into actionable practices. In addition, Dr. Sarah Derry recommends the following Iowa STEM connections, color-coordinated with the table above:

Resource Connector: Visit Iowa STEM's searchable website called Teachable Moment. It's full of activities for all interests and grade levels. If you have STEM events to share, contact the hub and we can help distribute info.

Organizer of Collaboration: Try a family STEM night with activities from the Iowa STEM Pinerest page. You could extend the challenge to friends and extended family via a Zoom or Facetime call.

Interest Supporter: Talk to your kids about their interests. Then take the Future Ready Iowa Career Interest Assessment and explore relevant career videos together.

Virtual learning can feel overwhelming sometimes. If you're having trouble connecting, start by just choosing one of these options and trying it at home.

If you have additional tips and supports for families seeking ways to enhance virtual learning, please email the Hub so we can share them in future newsletters or social media posts.
NewBoCo Expands K-12 Virtual Programs
Above: Alison Mohr training Scale-Up awardees for Computer Science Discoveries summer 2019
NewBoCo's efforts to support STEM education happen in lots of different avenues. Over the summer, they worked with over 100 educators as an Iowa STEM Scale-up, providing professional development to help teachers navigate computer science, impacting 7,775 Iowa youth. This fall, they're sponsoring several fall programs. We asked Assistant Director of K-12 Education Alison Mohr to talk about their new virtual initiatives.

Q&A with Mohr

Q: What resources do you have for afterschool/community program providers? 
A: We provide community opportunities to encourage students and families to explore STEM and learn about computer science. We have shifted this year to provide virtual options, which gives us the opportunity to connect with families across the state.

Our website (https://newbo.co/newboco-k-12-education/) provides information about different opportunities for after-school or community groups to participate in. We are fortunate to be sponsored by Iowa businesses and foundations, so most of our programs are offered at a free or reduced cost.

One example of a community group we enjoy working with is the Girl Scouts. Troops participate in our CoderDojo sessions. When we coordinate with a troop leader, we ensure that our stations align to troop goals. allowing them to earn badges while they learn skills.

Q: How can afterschool/community programs encourage STEM education in K-12 learners?

It's more important than ever to encourage creative ways for students to think critically and collaborate. So much of STEM revolves around being able to problem solve and iterate solutions. I would encourage afterschool and community programs to look for ways they can encourage children and families to collaborate and solve problems.

Fall opportunities--free or scholarships available.

Coder Dojo
CoderDojo is a free K-5 STEAM program that encourages creativity, fosters entrepreneurship, and helps kids learn to code. Two Saturdays a month, we provide a variety of virtual stations. Learn more at https://newbo.co/newboco-k-12-education/coderdojo/
Future City
Registration is open through October 31 for the 2021 Future City program. Future City provides a hands-on approach for middle school students to envision, research, and create a city of the future. This year's theme involves the Moon. Teams develop STEM, writing, communication, and critical thinking skills. They may choose to compete virtually in January with a chance to represent Iowa and compete nationally, or they can use resources and content for educational and team-building purposes.

NewBoCo will waive the $25 registration fee for all organizations wanting to participate. Learn more and register at https://futurecity.org
GirlsCode ++
Join us for Virtual GirlsCode ++ on Saturday, November 14 from 9:00-3:00pm. This event is open to all 8th-12th grade students.. The workshop offers a hands-on experience for creating their own website. Instructor and mentors from industry will guide students, and they leave with continued access to their website so they can share with others and make changes. Scholarships are available for interested participants. Register at https://newbo.co/girls-code-camp/

Alison Mohr is a STEM enthusiast and student advocate. In addition to working with NewBoCo, she serves on the SC STEM Hub Advisory Board, particiipates in STEM festivals, and has a background in science education and teaching. If you need computer science resources for your K-12 students, visit this website to contact Mohr.
Advisory Board Update: Co-Chairs Elected
Above: Check out our board in action! Besides attending monthly meetings, members volunteer, visit schools and community partners, read applications, assist at festivals and more.

Mauree Haage and Alison Mohr were unanimously selected at this year's SC Regional Advisory Board Chairs. Both bring with them a background in education, experience on the board, and an enthusiasm for STEM. We appreciate their volunteer spirit and willingness to guide the region.

Haage has served on the board for the past three years. She teaches secondary science at North Mahaska Schools and has a passion for bringing the best of STEM to rural schools.

This is the start of Mohr's third year, also. She works as the Assistant Director of K-12 Education for NewBoCo. Prior to that, she taught middle school STEM at Carlisle schools. Her passion is to improve computer science literacy across the state.

If you'd like to contact Haage or Mohr, please send a note to the SC STEM Hub. To learn more about the advisory board or to learn how you could apply to serve, please visit our webiste.
Program Provider Applications Due TODAY!
Don't worry Educators, you'll get your turn in January
Great STEM Programs = Great Student Foundations

If you are a STEM program provider with a product proven and ready to scale for the state of Iowa, please apply to be one of Iowa STEM's K-12 options. For insight into the application process, please checkout our previously recorded webinar, posted here.

If you have questions or need more information, please contact Dr. Sarah Derry.
Calendar of Events
(We need more--send us yours!)

Oct. 2 - 2020 NC-ASTE Regional Meeting
Oct. 5 - Scale-Up Provider Proposals Due
Oct. 9 - STEM Teacher Nominations Due
Oct. 10 - Jewels Virtual App Camp
Oct. 26-27
Oct. 31 - Future City Registration Due
Nov. 14 - Virtual Girls Code ++

If you have a STEM-related class, celebration, tribute, or event, please email us so we can share via social media and/or our event calendar.

For more events and details, please visit our website calendar.
Need help?
Our Board is here to serve!

  • Bridgette Andrews
  • Creighton Cox
  • Katrina Cummings
  • Carla Eysink
  • Sherry Ford
  • Nadilia Gomez
  • Mauree Haage*
  • Jonathan Holmen
  • Major Jen
  • Ronda McCarthy
  • Alison Mohr*
  • Joe Murphy
  • Amber Pargmann
  • Laura Williams
* = board co-chairs