Fall 2016
STEM Active Learning Newsletter

Below you will find upcoming meeting dates, grant opportunities to support a garden at your program, and new advocacy tools just in time for the upcoming legislative session! You will also 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!


Gracie Brandsgard

STEM Active Learning Community Partners

Iowa Afterschool Alliance



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



Recap: STEM Professional Development Workshop Series

The Active Learning Community Partners wrapped up its 2016 professional development workshops for informal educators at the end of September. Over 50 participants attended workshops in Storm Lake, Coralville, Waterloo, and Ames to learn and practice strategies for building high-quality STEM activities.

A few comments from participants:

"Thanks for the motivation to improve my lessons! I had a field trip today and I did some organizational changes to the way I had normally done it and it worked SO much better!"

"All of the activities we did were good examples of things I could do at my program"

"I loved the opportunity to meet with other informal educators and having a lot of time to share thoughts and learn from each other."

"The workshop helped me think from the students' perspectives about what they would find engaging and relevant."

Missed the workshops? Don't worry! We'll be offering more in 2017 - stay tuned for details.
ALCP Biannual Meeting
Join us December 2nd to talk about the future of informal STEM.

The Active Learning Community Partners is gathering to highlight the work the group has completed this year and to discuss the future work of the group.

If you are interested in being a part of the ALCP, we invite you to join us at the meeting. We have an online option for joining us if you are unable to travel to the in-person meeting.
December 2nd, 2016
10am - 12pm

West Des Moines Learning Resource Center
3550 Mills Civic Parkway
West Des Moines

To join online:

Call into the meeting for audio:
Dial: 1-408-638-0968 or 1-646-558-8656
Meeting ID: 991 231 3680
Grants for Gardening
Applications are due December 15 and 16.

Two organizations are offering grants to support gardens at schools and community-based afterschool programs. Check out the opportunities below!

The National Garden Association is offering a Youth Garden Grant. Awardees will receive plants, gardening supplies, and Kids Gardening curriculum. Informal programs are welcome to apply. 

Click here to find out more about the grant.

School programs are eligible to apply for Schoolyard Garden Grants provided by the University of Minnesota. Awardees will receive $1,000 for plants, gardening equipment, curriculum, and staff development. 

Click here to learn more and apply.
Reports and Research

State of Afterschool and Summer Programming in Iowa, Iowa Afterschool Alliance
Iowans can do more to support families and youth in accessing afterschool programs. Read the 2016 report released by the Iowa Afterschool Alliance to learn more about the current state of afterschool in Iowa and the challenges facing programs today.

Click here to read the full report.

We've added a new category to our newsletters, advocacy! Below you will find resources and materials to help you reach out to policymakers at the local, state, and national levels on an issue that matters most to you - informal STEM.

A State Policymaker's STEM Playbook
Using Utah as a success story, the Education Commission breaks down the building of sustainable STEM system into manageable, actionable steps. Additionally, the Playbook offers troubleshooting on funding, marketing and messaging, and building partnerships.

Click here to download the playbook.

State Advocacy Resources
The STEM Ed Coalition and the Afterschool Alliance have collaborated to develop a toolkit of materials for afterschool STEM champions to use when engaging with state and local policymakers.

Click here to view the toolkit.

A Business Leader's Guide to Mobilizing State Action on STEM
Change the Equation wrote a messaging and action guide specifically for business leaders committed to STEM and interested in engaging policymakers on this important issue.

Click here to read the guide.

For more advocacy resources and contact information for your legislators, visit our wiki: iowastemactivelearning.wikispaces.com
Recent Webinars

Measuring the Impact of STEM Learning in Afterschool
Presented by: Afterschool Alliance

Fostering Engineering Habits: Encouraging Elementary Students to Think like Engineers
Presented by: Engineering is Elementary

You can find more webinars on our wiki site: iowastemactivelearning.wikispaces.com

The National Afterschool Alliance offers short, discovery-based STEM activities to informal educators for free. The activities are flexible enough to be adapted to any age group and include key STEM concepts, discussion questions and prompts, and step-by-step instructions. Check out some of the STEM Gems below.

Click here to explore the science of glow sticks.
Click here for a color change experiment that explores the properties of acids and bases.

Connected Science Learning - NSTA
The feature article in NSTA's regular publication details a successful partnership between the New York Hall of Science and local school districts to create an innovative STEM program for students that aligned and supported formal classroom curricula.

Read the article here

Coaching Staff in STEM - Y4Y
You for Youth has developed a series of short trainings for anyone who supervises or trains frontline staff. This series will give you additional tools on how to train and support staff who are implementing STEM programming and how to assess staff readiness.

Click here to access the trainings.
You can find more resources on our wiki site: iowastemactivelearning.wikispaces.com
Dimensions of Success Observer

STEM Program Observers Needed! 

Would you like to become an out-of-school time STEM program observer? 
Upcoming Observer Training Dates:
  • December 14-15, 9am - 3pm
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 STEM Next, this training is provided at no charge to you!

If you are interested in becoming a DoS observer, please contact Gracie Brandsgard at the IAA at gbrandsgard@sppg.com. 
STEM Save the Dates

December 2, 2016
ALCP biannual meeting, West Des Moines and online.

December 5-11, 2016
Computer Science Education Week - click here for Hour of Code events in your area.

December 14-15, 2016
DoS Observer Training, online webinar
If interested in becoming an observer, please contact Gracie Brandsgard at gbrandsgard@sppg.com

January 24, 2017
STEM Scale-Up Applications open for the 2017-2018 year
For general questions, please contact:
Gracie Brandsgard
STEM Active Learning Lead
Iowa Afterschool Alliance
2910 Westown Pkwy, Suite 302
West Des Moines, IA 50266