Monthly News of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council | September 2014

Iowa STEM Monitoring Project 2013-2014 Summary Report
Figure 59. Observed Outcomes of the Scale-Up Programs (pg. 107)


Indications Abound on STEM Progress

Framed in a cautious two-years-hardly-makes-a-trend context, Iowa's STEM initiative is contributing to a number of promising upticks.Comparing the numbers over recent years, program evaluators have provided us the following:


  • The proportions of high schoolers who exhibit proficiency in mathematics and science is UP;
  • The percentage of Iowa students in 4th and 8th grades scoring at or above "proficient" in mathematics on the National Assessment of Educational Progress is UP;
  • The percentage of Iowa students meeting benchmarks for science on the ACT test is UP;
  • The number of students taking Advanced Placement courses in STEM-related subjects is UP;
  • Interest in STEM among high schoolers is UP;
  • Student interest in careers that use skills in STEM is UP;
  • The number of students majoring in STEM at Iowa community colleges and universities is UP;
  • The number of teachers in Iowa with a teaching endorsement in a STEM-related area (science, technology, mathematics, health sciences, agriculture) is UP;
  • Minority student STEM-degree completion is UP;
  • Participation of females and under-represented minorities in STEM Council programs from 2012-13 to 2013-14 is UP;
  • And, finally, our legislature's investment in STEM was very nearly matched by the grants, gifts and cost-sharing of partners in 2013-14.


Everyone involved in Iowa STEM can take great encouragement from these indicators. Yet we have serious work to do on a number of very challenging and vital measures, including the decline in interest among all children in mathematics and science as they progress through school, the participation of women in computer-related college majors, the number of new licensees in mathematics and science teaching coming out of our colleges and universities, and the participation of racial and ethnic minority students in advanced secondary STEM coursework, to name a few. But the data suggests we are on the right track. These indicators and many more can be found in the annual report compiled by the Center for Social and Behavioral Research at
the University of Northern Iowa, the Research Institute for Studies in Education at Iowa State University and Iowa Testing at The University of Iowa. See   

POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels
makes STEM work well in Iowa.
A panel of OECD Test partner school leaders share outcomes and impressions at the ninth meeting of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council at ACT®
on September 12.



Angel Mendez, new STEM Council Communications & Marketing Specialist.


Corporate Partnership with STEM


Many corporations have graciously partnered with the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council to help support quality STEM Education to the state of Iowa. This month, we would like to profile another great partner, POET, a U.S. biofuel company that specializes in the creation of bioethanol. For more than twenty-five years, POET has defined the art of bio refining. They have grown from a single, humble refinery to one of the world's largest producers of ethanol and other bio refined products.


POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, a joint venture of Royal DSM and POET, LLC, recently proved its revolutionary technology that converts agricultural residue into renewable fuel at the Grand Opening of its first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The plant, named "Project LIBERTY," converts baled corn cobs, leaves, husk and stalk into renewable fuel. POET is a partner of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, and it is clear with the business they run, why they have a clear sense to make STEM work well in Iowa.


POET has been involved with the Governor's STEM Advisory Council through sponsorship of Kris Groff, a Sheldon High School science teacher extern through the Council's Real World Externships for Teachers of Mathematics, Science and Technology program. In addition, Lisa Hilder, current controller at the POET facility in Corning, Iowa, was recently sworn in as a member of the Southwest Iowa STEM Regional Advisory Board.


It is exciting to watch POET and other engaged partners shape and enhance the structure of STEM education and workforce in Iowa. We look forward to seeing the many impacts of the contributions to STEM POET gives.

Meeting IX for Council
Sets Course for STEM


Fittingly held at ACT®, the nation's leader in college and career readiness, the ninth meeting of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council convened approximately seventy members and guests for a deep dive into our current and future states on Friday, September 12. The meeting is the first of now-quarterly Council gatherings, a change that Lieutenant Governor Reynolds announced to attendees as a measure to more fully engage the talents and guidance of members. And the Council swiftly moved into engagement mode.


A panel of leaders of the Council's six partner OECD Test schools shared the outcomes and impacts of participating in an international assessment. Collectively they placed Iowa on a global spectrum favorably depicting our highest performing schools as competitive with any in the world. Another ten pursuits of the STEM Council, ably led by members and regional managers, impressed upon attendees the undercurrent of ongoing work that moves us forward-from business development to messaging to networking and assessment.  


And to launch year four, working groups were expanded, re-started and, in a few instances, originated to act on Council priorities including support of arts and culture, connection to school counselors, enlistment in volunteerism, embracing of affiliates through endorsement and more. Additional contributors from within and beyond Iowa's STEM Council are most welcome to register their interest in serving on these groups, which can be browsed at the meeting archive: .



Angel Joining Iowa STEM


Angeleigha 'Angel' Mendez will be joining Iowa's STEM cause mid-October, applying her knowledge, talents and skills as Communications and Marketing Specialist. She will be responsible for writing all content for the website, publications, newsletters, letters, emails, displays, video, audio, promotional pieces, speeches, presentations and news releases; establishing the strategic communication plan and disseminating strategic messages to constituents; working collaboratively with all internal and external partners to convey consistent messages and branding; staying in contact with business partners to develop sustainable relationships to help promote Council goals; coordinating all special events and meetings; and providing leadership for various committees.


Angel studied Integrated Media -- a mixture of radio, television, print journalism and business marketing -- at Stephens College, the second oldest, all-women's institution in the United States. She has applied her academic studies in numerous real-world experiences, including Socket Telecommunications, Columbia Daily Tribune and a reporting position at ABC 17 News in Columbia, Missouri.


Through Iowa's STEM effort, Angel aspires to serve a higher purpose by informing Iowans about a cause that will ultimately help the entire citizenry in the long run. She succeeds Jacquelin 'Jacci' Linn, who has transitioned to Goldsmiths, University of London, in the United Kingdom to study Cultural Policy, Relations and Diplomacy.


Please join us in helping Angel Mendez feel at home. 


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Governor's STEM Advisory Council Administrative Office
UNI, 214 East Bartlett Hall, Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0298 
Contributors to this edition: Kari Jastorff, Carrie Rankin and Jeff Weld