Summer 2015
Welcome to Summer!

Since our last edition of the SySTEM Building Newsletter, we have been busy focusing on a statewide definition of out-of-school time (OST) STEM and creating professional development opportunities for OST STEM providers. In this edition, you will find the finalized definition of quality OST STEM, highlights from the Impact Afterschool Conference, and updates! Lastly, you will find resources that support STEM educators and provide the tools to keep kids learning even when they are out-of-school.

We are happy to have you as partners and hope to continue working with you to increase the number of opportunities for Iowa youth and families to engage in STEM activities outside of the traditional school day.


More information can be found on our wiki page, and please don't hesitate to contact us with questions or feedback at any time! 


Thanks for reading!


Indira Karic

Iowa SySTEM Building Initiative

Iowa After School Alliance


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.   



Afterschool Champion
Friend of Afterschool: 
Lt. Governor, Kim Reynolds
May 19, 2015

Lieutenant Governor Reynolds was recognized by the Iowa Afterschool Alliance as an Afterschool Champion for 2015. She has tirelessly worked to provide access to STEM in Iowa. The Lt. Governor co-chairs the Governor's STEM Advisory Council and is one of the founding leaders of that initiative. Additionally, she leads the Million Women Mentors Iowa initiative, which has pledged to have 5,000 mentors committed to young women in STEM education and STEM careers by the year 2018. 
Through her work, she has been influential in advancing afterschool issues in public policy. The Iowa Afterschool Alliance was pleased to present the Friend of Afterschool Award of 2015 to Lieutenant Governor, Kim Reynolds, on May 19, 2015. 

To view all of the Afterschool Champions
click here.  
Impact After School Conference 
Pre-Conference Highlight: April 22, 2015

On April 22 - 24, 2015, the Iowa Afterschool Alliance held our third annual, statewide, Impact After School Conference at the Ramada Conference Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Approximately 160 afterschool professionals were in attendance, along with over 50 individual presenters and 18 exhibitors!

We kicked off the conference with a day-long STEM pre-conference, featuring a national STEM expert, Maryann Stimmer, the Owner and Founder of STEMeducators. Ms. Stimmer was also recently recognized by the NAA as one of the "Most Influential in STEM" in the AfterSchool Today Spring 2015 publication.  

To view the full agenda, along with pre-conference materials, click here


 In the winter edition of this newsletter, we asked you to take a brief survey. We read your comments and thoughts, and with your input and the help of the STEM Active Learning Community Partners Working Group,

we have finalized a definition of quality for out-of-school time STEM programming. 


Quality OST STEM Definition: 

Quality informal STEM integrates science, technology, engineering, and math by providing meaningful opportunities set in a relevant context for youth to develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, inquiry, and creativity through engaging, hands-on and inter-generational activities and programming. Quality programming is distinguished by authentic and appropriate active engagement in purposeful activities in an environment that is conducive to learning, curiosity, and experimentation, and provides youth with opportunities to build positive relationships, reflect, and connect their learning to the broader world.


Local Program Highlight
Nishna Valley YMCA, Atlantic, Iowa - Family STEM Night

On May 30, 2015, the Nishna Valley YMCA held a Family STEM Night event, featuring two STEM activities for families to immerse themselves in and hosted a number of people from the community. The activities included two missions - designing and building the world's largest free-standing tower and designing a launcher that will launch a cotton ball the farthest!

The Nishna Valley YMCA is one of the program sites that the Iowa Afterschool Alliance is working with through the national Noyce Foundation grant to increase the quality of the STEM programming provided, as well as to increase student interest and engagement in STEM.


Microsoft IT  Academy
STEM Advisory Council Partnership

The Iowa's Governor's STEM Advisory Council and Microsoft IT Academy have partnered to provide 150 Iowa high schools and community colleges with an IT Academy. One hundred of those schools will be provided with Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exam site licenses.


Demand for the IT Academy curriculum has been high. If you would like to be placed on a waiting list, please apply here  to indicate your interest.  



STEM Best Workshop

Event: June 17, 2015  9:00am - 4:00pm
Where: FFA Enrichment Center Ankeny, IA

To support the sharing of best practices across the state, a statewide meeting will be held on June 17, 2015 from 9 to 4 p.m. at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny. Partnership teams of educators, administrators, higher education, economic development, chambers, and business/industry are encouraged to attend.

Registration is required as space is limited. Lodging will be provided for attendees to attend the reception June 16 and meeting June 17.

To learn more about the Iowa STEM BEST program, contact Southeast Regional STEM Manager Kristine Bullock at


Click Here to view the calendar for Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council.   

Spring into STEAM
Power My Learning 

Research shows that incorporating arts in education is important for learning. Studies point out that students who actively participate in arts learning exhibit enhanced achievements throughout education and their lives. Education through the arts provides students the opportunity to develop skills such as the 4C's- communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. 

"Power my learning is a free, web-based K-12 learning platform designed for students, educators, and parents. With PowerMyLearning, you can easily find and use thousands of the best free online learning activities from across the web to propel student achievement in all major subjects including Math, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and more."

To learn more about this study Visit Power My Learning

The Connectory - The largest portal of STEM program providers! 
Learn about the newly-launched national portal of STEM program providers by visiting the Connectory website. There are many programs to connect and collaborate with, in and out of state. You can also showcase your programs and promote your events. The Connectory serves as a place for programs to network, share resources, and collaborate on STEM-related projects. It is easy to use and free to join!

Dimension of Success Observer Training

STEM Program Observers Needed! 

Would you like to become an out-of-school time STEM program observer? 
Dimension of Success Observer Training Dates:
  • July 15-16, 10am-4pm EST; Registration Deadline: June 28
  • August 26-27,10am-4pm EST; Registration Deadline: July 30

 The Iowa Afterschool Alliance is using the Dimensions of Success (DoS) Evaluation tool, which pinpoints twelve indicators of STEM program quality out-of-school time, to measure the quality of OST STEM programs across the state. The DoS Tool was developed and studied, with funding from the National Science Foundation, by the Program in Education, Afterschool and Resiliency at Harvard University. 


We are currently seeking individuals in different areas of the state who are interested in observing afterschool programs using the DoS Tool. Thanks to our funding from the Noyce Foundation, this training is provided at no charge to you!


There are still a few spots left for the webinar training taking place July 15-16th. The registration deadline is June 28. If you are interested in becoming a DoS observer, please contact Indira Karic at the IAA via 



STEM Save the Dates

June 24-25, 2015:

Taking STEM Outside: WILD Project-based Learning in Your Schoolyard
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, contact Barb Gigar, Training Specialist, Iowa DNR, at

July 9, 2015 
STEM Festival, Central Iowa Fair, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m., Marshalltown, Iowa

DoS Observer Training; Registration Deadline: June 28

If interested in becoming an observer, please contact Indira Karic at 


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