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

The key to success when it comes to Iowa STEM are the volunteers who power the Council, regional boards and committees.


STEM Council Reflects at
Three-Year Anniversary

Three years ago today on Halloween 2011, Iowa's STEM Advisory Council met for the first time and formalized priorities that led to Action Plans one year later. Today, more than a dozen programs thrive because of those plans while another dozen working groups continue to shape the future.

For an illustration of the linear path of STEM in Iowa from consensus priorities in 2011 to recommendations in 2012 to programs in 2013, consider one of the Council's eight initial priorities in 2011, STEM for ALL - High Potential, Under-Represented and Nontraditional. The working group, co-chaired by Grinnell College President Raynard Kington and University of Iowa Urology Professor Victoria Sharp, made seven recommendations that have made progress to date: 


1) Identify formal and informal STEM related opportunities targeted towards K-12 student populations. Disseminate information about these opportunities.

  • Iowa STEM has fully implemented the nationally-acclaimed Scale-Up program, reaching more than 100,000 youth across Iowa in formal and informal, learning settings.  

2) Implement school, university, college and community partnerships at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

  • Nearly every program operating under the STEM Council umbrella connects schools to higher education, including STEM Classrooms, STEM Festivals, STEM Externships and the upcoming STEM CAPS. 

3) Establish regional STEM-Hub Schools for Mathematics and Science.  

  • Four STEM-focused classrooms demonstrate the best practices in STEM education with a series of STEM Centers for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) beginning in the coming months.   

4) Facilitate the transfer of underrepresented, community college students into STEM-related majors at 4-year Iowa colleges and universities. 

  • The Chemistry and Biology Transition Guides for transfer students to Iowa's universities were produced under the auspices of the STEM Council and set course for the Mathematics Guide and the Communications Guide. 

5) Increase undergraduate retention of underrepresented and nontraditional students.

  • With Iowa's STEM Council portfolio being exclusive to preK-12, every program selected for Scale-Up, STEM-Classroom, STEM CAPS, etc. must demonstrate success for underrepresented students.  

6) Ensure that 15% of new teacher hires in STEM areas have a master's degree in a STEM discipline.

  • The STEM Council took a slight twist here, debuting the new STEM teaching endorsements in December of 2013.  

7) Increase parental STEM awareness. 

  • Thousands of parents participate in STEM Council events, including regional STEM festivals and STEM at the Iowa State Fair. Evaluators have documented significant gains in STEM awareness among adults.  

STEM's progress in Iowa is a tribute to the hard-working contributors to plans and programs. 
What a difference three years can make. Here is the list for all active programs and committees, as well as archived action plans. 

Three high school teachers from the Dubuque School District complete their professional development training for the KidWind Scale-Up program.

Iowa STEM CAPS Taskforce aims to create more real-world applied lessons for students and business leaders. Authentic learning is an important part of Mr. Jeff Jansen's approach at Hoover High School.


Among other involvement with support for the STEM Council in the last three years, Rockwell Collins is the official sponsor of the FIRST Tech Challenge Scale-Up program.

KidWind is a Breeze for
Iowa Scale-Up   



KidWind will soon "blow" across Iowa this year as it wraps up teacher professional development trainings in just a few days. In year two as a Scale-Up program in Iowa, KidWind's renewable energy activities will involve 105 teachers and more than 6500 students across the state.


The program's project-based curriculum features six different wind and solar projects targeted for students from fourth to eighth grades. According to teachers involved in KidWind, the program integrates best with their required curriculum for this age group.


While in its second year in Iowa, the program has taken over the national realm for the last 15 years hoping to change the conversation about climate change into a more positive one.


"It's just important to know about energy in general," said Michael Arquin, KidWind Project Director. "Climate change is a problem that we all have to deal with and those conversations can be kind of depressing. Instead, this will be a conversation to show kids the options on how we can get out of it. It's important because we really need to understand these concepts to help ourselves get better, and it'sjust a more positive way to think about that."


All of Iowa's current Scale-Up programs survived a rigorous review and selection process before rolling out to 1,200 educators and about 100,000 Iowa youth this year.  


Meeting IX for Council
Sets Course for STEM



A new addition to the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council portfolio involves establishing innovative and replicable Iowa models of the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) similar to schools in Overland Park, Ks., and Waukee, Iowa.


Iowa STEM CAPS focuses on developing "satellite" programs to immerse students in professional environments without the need for new buildings and classrooms, much like Waukee's current satellite approach and that of the Northland CAPS model of North Kansas City. The experience will unite the expertise of business and education sectors to strengthen the transition from school to careers.


This year, the STEM Council slated a portion of the state legislative funding to support Iowa STEM CAPS programs and called for schools across the state to apply. This past month, the STEM Council received six proposals involving a total of 14 school districts in the Southeast and Northwest regions of Iowa and identifying 56 businesses interested in partnering.


In the coming month, the Iowa STEM CAPS Taskforce will visit each school for evaluation to determine the awardees.  


Click here to learn more about Iowa STEM CAPS.


Rockwell Collins Sets Example for Business Role in STEM Education

It is hard to fathom even 25 years ago, business leaders began thinking about the future in STEM education, but that is exactly when Rockwell Collins initiated efforts to connect their business with local educators.


Community Relations Manager Jenny Becker said their initiatives in STEM education began as a grassroots program composed of employees who decided to volunteer and mentor at local schools. Today, it is now a company-wide policy that Becker said drives the future of their business and has led to the partnership with the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council.


That partnership began the same year of the STEM Council's inception in 2011. Since then, the company's charitable group has supported the STEM Council financially through officialsponsorship the FIRST Tech Challenge Scale-Up program and most importantly, shares company executives, including the CEO Kelly Ortberg and Cindy Dietz, Director of Corporate Communications, on the STEM Council.


"We recognize the great work that has been done in the last three years," Becker said. "I've been asked, 'Who owns STEM education?' Really, it is so critical and is illustrated with the Governor's STEM Advisory Council that it is such a broad, important subject that requires all entities because it's really an economic development concern in our state. All businesses can play a part in this, even if it's doing a job shadow for one student, doing a FTC team or offering an externship for a teacher. The possibilities provided by the Council for businesses of all sizes and types are endless."  


Click here for a list of business partners for Iowa STEM and how to join. 


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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,
Jeff Weld and Angel Mendez