Winter 2015
Welcome Back!

In this edition of the SySTEM Building Newsletter, you will find research, resources, professional development, and activities for out-of-school time (OST) STEM.
Be sure to check out the draft definition of quality OST STEM and provide your feedback! Also, mark your calendar with upcoming STEM dates. Finally, we have featured several funding opportunities, including Iowa's Scale-Up Grants, as well as some nationwide competitions. 

We hope you find this information valuable and relevant to your work, and we are so happy to have you as partners in the effort to increase the number of opportunities for Iowa youth, families, and adults to participate in high quality, active-learning (OST/informal) STEM outside of the traditional school day.


Don't forget to check out our wiki page for resources between newsletters, and please don't hesitate to contact us with questions or feedback at any time!


Thanks for reading!


You are receiving this Newsletter because you have been associated with one of the Active Learning STEM events in the past. If you have a colleague who would like to receive this news, please have them join here.   



Click here to take our 3-question survey!

With input from the STEM Active Learning Community Partners Working Group, we have been putting a lot of thought into a definition of quality that can be used in our work with informal and out-of-school time programs offering STEM. 


In the last edition of this newsletter, we asked for your input on the working definition that we have built so far. This is the last opportunity to share your thoughts by responding to this very brief survey!

STEM Day at the Capitol
February 19, 2015

The Iowa Afterschool Alliance was at the Capitol yesterday with our Iowa STEM Active Learning Community Partners for the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council's STEM Day!


The window to apply for 2015-2016 Scale-Ups from the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council is open! Between now and March 9th, you may apply to receive materials and training for one of the 14 exemplary STEM programs being offered this year.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to enhance your programming with these invaluable grants! Details on each of the programs and the application process are available at


STEM Save the Dates

March 28, 2015: 4Cs Early Childhood STEM Conference, Iowa City  


March 29, 2015: The STEM Active Learning Community Partners Working Group will host an evening session to demonstrate how to use the DoS Activity Planning Tool to prepare quality STEM programs with an immersive activity! Find out how to access and use the tool in this engaging session. Register using this link.


March 30, 2015: Annual STEM Summit in Des Moines 


April 11, 2015: Week of the Young Child STEM Celebration, The Iowa Children's Museum, Coralville  


April 23-24, 2015: Impact After School Conference at Ramada Tropics Resort and Conference Center (Annual statewide conference for all afterschool professionals, regularly features STEM sessions for the afterschool setting). To register for the conference, click here. We are considering the possibility of hosting a day-long STEM Professional Development Workshop for afterschool professionals in conjunction with this conference. Please contact Indira if you would be interested in attending. 



ACT has released a Report on the Condition of STEM 2014, as well as reports for each state individually. 

Check out the promising data on where Iowa stands in student interest and achievement in STEM, and thank you for all you are doing to contribute to it!


Free Professional Developement in Afterschool STEM


Learn about afterschool STEM by exploring this site at your own pace, any time that is convenient for you!


Developed by the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension, in partnership with the Noyce Foundation, Click2SciencePD is an interactive professional development site for trainers, coaches, site directors and frontline staff/volunteers working in out-of-school time programs serving children and youth.

A great place to start is with their 20 Skills that Make STEM Click article on how to begin planning STEM learning experiences.

Free Resource: Iowa Ag Today

A new, Iowa-specific STEM resource is now available! Iowa Ag Today is designed to encourage students explore the connections between agriculture and their everyday lives. 


Educator Resources and lesson plans to are free, and provided by the Iowa Agriculture Literacy FoundationDownload the latest issue as well as the teacher guide to plan an agriculture-themed activity today!

The State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa has some great tools for fun, free STEM activities. "Build an aquifer that you can eat, meet Germy the Germ, and have fun learning about environmental and public health with the Hygienic Laboratory's online courses designed by our scientists to be fun and educational." Find them here.


The Hygienic Lab is also committed to providing students opportunities for mentorship. Learn about their Student Mentorship Program and Job Shadow Program here.

Do your students have ideas to improve the world?

Are your students ready to solve the engineering challenges of the 21st Century? The National Academy of Engineering is seeking 1 to 2 minute video submissions of original ideas on how to create "a more sustainable, healthy, secure, and/or joyous world!"

The Best Overall Video will be awarded $25,000, and there will be several $5,000 prizes as well. There are four categories for the competition, including Grades K-8 and Grades 9-12. 

Learn more about the NAE's Grand Challenges for Engineering here and submit your video entry by the March 2nd deadline!
Climate Change Challenge Looking for High School and Middle School Students

"Innovate to Mitigate wants students or student groups to submit ideas about how to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gases. This challenge encourages young people to unlock their immense potential for fining solutions!"

Initial submissions of a brief (250 word) statement for the first round of competition must be made by March 9th, and prizes range from $500 to $4000. Click here to learn more!

Looking for more funding opportunities for your program? The Captain Planet Foundation is offering $2,500 Eco-Tech Grants to organizations engaging children in inquiry-based projects in STEM fields. 

Learn more here, and apply by the deadline of April 30th!
A Special Thanks
Jillsa Aringdale, Expanded Learning VISTA, Iowa Afterschool Alliance

A special thanks to Jillsa for putting together the content of this newsletter! Jillsa has been working for the Iowa Afterschool Alliance since April of 2014 in an effort to merge high quality STEM and literacy integration into programming.

For general questions, please contact:
Indira Karic
System Building Initiative Lead
Iowa Afterschool Alliance
2910 Westown Pkwy, Suite 302
West Des Moines, IA 50266