High yields for Midwest STEM at DuPont Pioneer
Leaders representing state and national STEM organizations gathered at DuPont Pioneer in Johnston to exchange ideas and share best practices at the fourth annual Midwest STEM Forum, hosted by the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council.
Befitting a company known for its high-yield seeds, a bountiful harvest of STEM solutions were shared at DuPont Pioneer in Johnston last week, the site of the Midwest STEM Forum.
The fourth in the series hosted by leaders of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council extended the reach beyond neighboring states to include Colorado and Nevada, as well as Washington, D.C. Corporate attendees represented John Deere, Rockwell Collins and Vermeer Corporation, as well as ACT.
About a dozen STEM leaders convened for a pre-event dinner program featuring Iowa's Active Learning (informal/non-formal) Community led by STEM Council member Deb Dunkhase of The Iowa Children's Museum and the State Public Policy Group's Gracie Brandsgard.
The day-long event opened with Cornel Fuerer, DuPont Pioneer vice president and general counsel, reminding everyone how much his company depends on our work for a strong future. Then, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the STEM Council, provided STEM leaders much-valued advice regarding policy and advocacy at their respective state houses.
Playbooks were then opened for sharing best practices as well as collaborative problem-solving on common challenges. Indiana's new "Network of Knowledge" enables long-term tracking for measured impact. Kansas City is building "STEM Ecosystems" of business and education teams. Wisconsin is spreading "innovation spaces." Nevada has launched "The Year of STEM."
Jennifer Zinth of the Education Commission of the States led a state-by-state STEM status report. Dr. Claus von Zastrow of Change The Equation shared fresh data from " Vital Signs" about states' performances in STEM. STEM Council member Steve Triplett of ACT reported on the soon-to-be-released, annual Condition of STEM Report showing enrollment and persistence trends in higher education STEM by state. Pat Barnes of John Deere and Teri Vos of Vermeer, also STEM Council members, along with Adriana Johnson of Rockwell Collins, a Southeast Regional STEM Advisory Board member, provided valuable input from their corporate partner perspectives.
Iowa's regional and national leadership in STEM nets better ideas, stronger collaborations and broader impact on learners within and beyond our borders.

October 10, 2016
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October 15, 2016

NC Family STEM Festival
10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Crossroads Mall
Fort Dodge, Iowa
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October 20, 2016
NE Family STEM Festival
3:30 to 7:00 PM
Oelwein Community Center
Oelwein, Iowa
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October 22, 2016
SC Family STEM Festival
10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Howar Junior High School
Centerville, Iowa
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October 24, 2016
SC Family STEM Festival
6:00 to 8:00 PM
DMACC-Ankeny Campus
Ankeny, Iowa
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University of Northern Iowa
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New voices, perspectives join Iowa's STEM crusade

Kemin Industries President and CEO Dr. Chris Nelson, co-chair of the STEM Council, (second from left) welcomed new STEM Council members present at September's Council meeting (left to right) Sue Mattison, Drake University Provost, David Van Horn, educational administrator at Green Hills AEA, and Kasey McCurdy, vice president for engineering at Bunchball.
STEM Council member turnover is a bittersweet necessity as Iowa's nationally-acclaimed statewide STEM program evolves in a cycle of continuous improvement. Exiting members leave indelible records of contribution on the trajectory of Iowa STEM, while entering members bring new perspectives and prized organizations to the table.
Introducing our new members:
J. Bruce Harreld, President, The University of Iowa
"Being able to gather data, form hypotheses, test alternatives and make informed decisions rest at the core of our society. Therefore, the more educated our citizens are in STEM-related areas, the better citizens they will be."
Sue Mattison, Provost, Drake University
"[I am passionate about] creating opportunities for all students to be successful in STEM majors and in their chosen careers, including first generation college students, women and students of color. [I look most forward to] working together with others who have a commitment to providing outstanding educational opportunities and seeing an impact for students and their communities."
Kasey McCurdy, Vice President for Engineering, Bunchball
"When I think of my children's education, I want them to have a forward-thinking mindset thanks to an agile education grounded in research and reflection instead of unchanging tradition and tired processes. I'm passionate about STEM in Iowa because we have an amazing place to foster the creativity, curiosity and passion that many STEM-based careers and projects require."
David Van Horn, Educational Administrator, Green Hills AEA
"It's all about our students and the need for them to be ready for an ever-changing work environment. Ensuring that our schools are prepared and able to deliver STEM related offerings will significantly increase our students' opportunities to prepare for their futures."
Jim Wohlpart, Interim President, University of Northern Iowa
"It is an honor to serve on the Governor's STEM Advisory Council because we will be able to work collectively to forge an innovative future for the STEM disciplines. Our role in assisting the state to think forward about critical areas cannot be taken lightly."
And, Mary Meisterling, Community Relations and Economic Development Manager, Alliant Energy
Welcoming back our re-appointed members:
  • Dr. P. Barry Butler, Executive Vice President and Provost, The University of Iowa
  • Kacia Cain, Science Educator, Central Campus, Des Moines Public Schools
  • John Carver, Superintendent, Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools
  • Dr. Robert Denson, President, Des Moines Area Community College
  • Mary 'Beth' Hochstedler, Education/Outreach and STEM Director, State Hygienic Lab, The University of Iowa
  • Jordan Lampe, Director of Communications and Policy, Dwolla
  • Valerie Newhouse, President, Iowa Lakes Community College
  • Dr. Mark Putnam, President, Central College
  • Dr. Jonathan Wickert, Senior Vice President and Provost, Iowa State University
And finally, honoring our former members:
  • Dr. Mark McDermott, Clinical Associate Professor, The University of Iowa
  • Macenzie Rubin, Research Scientist, Monsanto
  • Gail Wortmann, Instructor/Developer, Iowa Learning Online
  • Dr. Isa Zimmerman, Consultant, IKZ Advisors, Boston, MA
STEM Council Meeting is Sweet XVI

Des Moines Area Community College President Dr. Rob Denson, a member of the STEM Council and executive committee, opened the 16th meeting of the STEM Council hosted at DMACC's recently renovated Student Center (Building 5).
September closed with a gathering of Iowa's STEM leaders who make up the STEM Council, marking the 16th meeting in five years. Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Ankeny provided the perfect setting.
Dr. Rob Denson, STEM Council executive committee member and DMACC President, welcomed the group of more than 60 advocates alongside Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, setting the table for the day's ambitious agenda.
Profiling the STEM BEST® model as one of the most innovative and potent programs of the STEM Council suite, Executive Director Dr. Jeff Weld guided the group through two years of progress on naming and supporting eight leading-edge school-business consortia. 2016 brings a wonderful dilemma familiar to STEM Council members: more interest than there are resources as 14 applicants vie for six available awards. Members contributed a number of strategic solutions, including certificates of excellence or non-monetary aid for those not awarded. Since the start of STEM BEST, the eight awarded models have cost-shared more than $940,000 and are partnering with an estimated 170 local businesses and organizations.
Dr. Erin Heiden with the Center of Social and Behavioral Research (CSBR) at the University of Northern Iowa led the group on a tour of the 2015-2016 Iowa STEM Evaluation Report, making pit-stops for conversation on new measurements and improving the metrics of the report for the years to come. Dr. Jill Wittrock, assistant director for the UNI's CSBR, unveiled a new resource for STEM happenings in Iowa called, Members were "assigned" homework of posting a resource, event or program to the site for a jump-start, and all Iowa STEM advocates are invited to do the same.
An international STEM perspective highlighted the day with Dr. Yoshisuke Kumano from Shizuoka University in Japan, who has toured the country and shared the five best practices in STEM he has witnessed so far. During lunch, Southwest Regional STEM Manager Deb Frazee profiled a national qualifying Ten80 team from Shenandoah Middle School, supported through the STEM Scale-Up Program, drawing out their story for the STEM Council on their travels to the national championship and the awards they brought home.
The afternoon was a facilitated think-tank led by Dr. Weld to gauge STEM Council members' interests and confidence in programming, functions and overall goals. An agreeable amount showed interest in strengthening the focus on underrepresented groups, communications towards the STEM Council members and uniting key stakeholders behind the STEM movement. Overall, the majority of the group was very satisfied with the progress the STEM Council has made so far.
For more information on the STEM Council or to see meeting archives, please visit

Better together - Iowa STEM participates in national partnership for science and STEM education  

The STEM Council's Assistant Director for Development Carrie Rankin (left) recently joined Iowa Department of Education's State Science Consultant Kris Kilibarda in state science strategizing at a national forum.
The Iowa Department of Education (IDOE) has been invited to participate in a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded grant that will look at helping design structures and processes to effectively implement the vision for science and STEM teaching and learning.
In mid-September, Kris Kilibarda, state science consultant for IDOE, Carrie Rankin, STEM Council assistant director for development, and Tami Plein, science specialist with Great Prairie Area Education Agency, joined representatives from 14 other states to discuss a new vision for K-12 science education as represented in the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education.
The Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education (ACESSE) project is a research and development project to address the question: How can a network of state agencies support the development of more coherent and equitable systems of K-12 science and STEM education?
The two-day workshop included the development and testing of strategies and resources for improvement that the states designed together with support of research partners from the University of Washington and University of Colorado-Boulder. The Iowa team was then able to devise strategies to support the implementation of new science standards that help advance STEM education for the state. As work continues, the Iowa team will be able to draw on expertise and resources from across the 15-state network.

Improvement strategies and resources developed during the workshop focused on three goals, summarized as improving access and equity to science for all students, aligning stakeholders using a research-based framework and strengthening system components, including professional development, curriculum and assessment and guidance. 

More specific information and strategies will be shared in focus groups meetings, which are being developed and held from October 2016 through February 2017 around the state. The goals of Iowa's STEM Council are strengthened by this capacity-building work being done in Iowa.
For more information on this event, please contact Carrie Rankin at