MARCH 2015
Monthly News 
of the 
Iowa Governor's 
STEM Advisory Council 
214 East Bartlett
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0298
April 16, 2015   

3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Drake University STEM Festival

Des Moines, Iowa  


April 18, 2015

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Dubuque Family STEM Festival

Clarke University - Kehl Center

Dubuque, IA

April 20, 2015

5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Southwest Valley STEM Festival

Villisca, IA

April 25
, 2015

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Family STEM Festival
Southeastern Community College
Burlington, IA

April 30, 2015

4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Northeast Iowa Family STEM Festival

Northeast Iowa Community College Calmar, IA

Fourth annual Iowa STEM Summit was seismic for Iowa, shaking antiquated notions of education.
Interest piques at  
2015 Iowa STEM Summit

Symbolic of Iowa's broad-spectrum commitment to STEM education, record-setting attendance at the fourth annual Iowa STEM Summit drew in STEM leaders from eight states, including 13 percent business and economic development, 10 percent public universities, 33 percent preK-12 education, 12 percent private and community colleges, 15 percent nonprofits and informals, 8 percent extension and AEAs, 8 percent state and local government, plus a valued handful of unaffiliated advocates.


The transformation of STEM education was on full display, highlighting the progress of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council's four STEM-focused classrooms and best practices of the recipients of the STEM Education Award for Inspired Teaching, sponsored by Kemin Industries.


The future of Iowa's STEM education came into focus through provocative sessions, panels and speakers. As a result, the STEM Council is zeroing in on answers to major challenges, including the place for computer science, STEM support of the arts, leverage of counselors, diversity of the STEM talent pipeline, connecting business and school, engagement of higher education, maximizing the out-of-school learning zone, recognition of excellence and building STEM awareness.


Opening keynote Kwizera Imani, former Tanzanian refugee and now a senior enrolled in five advanced placement courses at Des Moines North High School, will attend Iowa State University for Aerospace Engineering and encapsulated the day's big message, "The best way to influence students is to grab their attention at a young age. If we involve them at a young age, they will become confident and proud, and the number of students interested in STEM careers will grow," Imani said.


Thank you to all who took part in the 2015 Iowa STEM Summit. For those who could not make it, all materials will be archived by early next week at  

New pathway for partnerships: STEM Council's Seal of Approval

The STEM Council's Seal of Approval  
will expand the STEM umbrella in Iowa to support non-STEM Council programs and events.

The STEM Council recently added a new recognition system to the Iowa STEM toolbox, referred to as the STEM Council's Seal of Approval, which recognizes the great STEM happening organically across Iowa.


Programs and events that align with STEM Council goals, such as community hack-a-thons, conferences, afterschool programs, citizen engagement, showcase events and more may apply for the Seal of Approval. Its dual function is to recognize and help elevate quality STEM outside of the STEM Council purview and expand opportunities for Iowans to identify and participate in great STEM by connecting to the STEM Council.


Five applicants worked through a beta-version of the application with a committee of the STEM Council. Eventually, all five earned designation as the first recipients of the Seal of Approval and were announced at the Iowa STEM Summit on March 30, including:

  • STEM Family Free Night at The Iowa Children's Museum;

  • Exploring Iowa Archaeology program of the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist;

  • Lewis Central Middle School's eighth grade STEM program;

  • Math Counts and Science Rocks at the Vermeer Yellow Iron Academy;

  • And, the Nature STEM Camp program, a joint venture of Sibley-Ocheyedan School District, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Osceola County and City of Sibley Recreation Department.

Each program or event that applies is unaffiliated with existing STEM Council programs and will be considered based on the program's alignment to STEM Council goals, the needs of the community and its benefits and offerings to meet those needs. The Seal of Approval can be leveraged for promotion, external funding and other types of support.


For more information on the STEM Council's Seal of Approval or to apply, visit

The Cedar Valley Family STEM Festival in Waterloo this past November is just one of dozens of free STEM festivals drawing in thousands of families across the state.

Sioux Center High School made its STEM classroom an addition to its Learning Center, which is shared by high school and middle school teachers.

Regional STEM festivals sweep the state


Regional STEM managers and their regional advisory boards are hard at work, uniting schools, businesses, nonprofits, higher education institutions, out-of-school educators and entire communities in bringing family STEM festivals to towns and cities across Iowa.


A STEM festival is a free and hands-on, educational experience, engaging preK-12 students and their families to explore STEM opportunities. The festivals draw in hundreds-and sometimes, even thousands-to discover or nurture their interest in STEM. Festivals show students at a young age that STEM careers and fields of study are fun, exciting and offer many rewarding opportunities.


The genesis of the family STEM festival concept comes from the idea that STEM innovation in preK-12 schools is not sufficient in driving a statewide STEM fever without the support of parents and communities. Since the launch of the STEM Council almost four years ago, STEM festivals have attracted thousands of families and have united the business, industry and educational assets in dozens of communities to inspire local youth and families. Each STEM festival is thoroughly evaluated by its regional STEM manager by attendance and impact, which is then used to improve on year after year. 


Last year, a total of 37 STEM festivals across the state attracted more than 10,000 Iowans, and interest in contributing to these festivals has grown each year. Now, Regional STEM managers enjoy the offerings of numerous community partners to exhibit, showcase and even co-fund local, STEM festivals.


The power of these community events that help inspire and prepare youth across Iowa for the STEM careers that await can be felt by anyone in attendance. To witness it for yourself or to get involved with a STEM festival, contact your regional STEM manager and reference the event listed at 


To get an inside look, watch this video of the Cedar Valley Family STEM Festival in Waterloo from November.




STEM-focused classrooms deliver on promise
The four recipients of last year's STEM-Focused Classroom grant are now delivering on their promise to re-imagine learning spaces for moving forward STEM and education as a whole. Partnering with the STEM Council and local communities, each room now has all of the ingredients in place---high-tech and leading-edge, physical spaces, well-prepared teachers and links to the outside world of STEM professionals. Today, those classrooms operate at full-capacity, changing the face and substance of student learning.


From a compelling pool of 24 applicants, the four awarded schools listed below made the most of $50,000 cost-matched grants to create models of learning laboratories for Iowa.  


Click each school name to watch a video for more details.


Davenport West High School, Davenport  

This STEM classroom developed from the school district's desire for an interdisciplinary approach that combines a ninth-grade science and mathematics course into one unit. Last summer, two teachers aligned their core standards and created a cohesive, project-based curriculum that utilizes the technology and the collaborative design of the STEM classroom to teach both mathematics and science together. 


Hoover High School, Des Moines 

Leaders at Hoover High School used the  STEM Council funds to redesign two classrooms, including a Project Lead the Way classroom and a STEM learning space available to all teachers of all subjects. In both spaces, the designers opened up each room to at least double its capacity and created collaborative, "maker's space" environments for students. 


Mt. Pleasant Middle School, Mt. Pleasant 

Two middle school teachers use two, identical STEM classrooms funded through this STEM Council program. Each room uses round tables and chairs with a screen at each pod, as well as new iPads and what is considered a "wall-sized iPad," called a Mondopad, to engage students more in new technology.


Sioux Center High School, Sioux Center   

School district leaders found opportunity in the STEM Council funding to add on to an existing project of redesigning its Learning Center and built on a technology lab that is used by both high school and middle school teachers. The lab features four, distinct pods that allow students to work together, using various technologies. Teachers say students have the opportunity to learn as a group and share with the entire class at the press of a button.


Since each classrooms' renovations, the schools have served as models for dozens of other school districts interested in understanding how to successfully redesign learning environments. To find out how to get a tour or learn more about each STEM classroom, e-mail Inf[email protected]