APRIL 2015
Monthly News 
of the 
Iowa Governor's 
STEM Advisory Council 
214 East Bartlett
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0298
May 2, 2015

9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Family STEM Festival

Briar Cliff University

Sioux City, IA


May 14, 2015

5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Cass County Extension STEM Festival

Cass County Fairgrounds


May 28, 2015

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

North Central STEM Festival

Lincoln Intermediate

Mason City, IA


July 9, 2015

1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

STEM Festival at the Central Iowa Fair

Marshall County Fairgrounds  

Marshalltown, IA

Lewis Central Middle School students experiment with "Engineering is Elementary," one of 14 STEM Scale-Up programs awarded to nearly 3,000 Iowa educators for the 2015-2016 academic year.  

STEM Scale-Up program
sets sail into year four

Nearly 3,000 educators throughout Iowa will take the lead on engaging more than 100,000 young learners with top STEM Scale-Up programs for the 2015-2016 academic year. Each year, the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council evenly distributes STEM programming across all six STEM regions, powered by $3.1 million of the annual STEM appropriation from the Iowa Legislature.


This year through a rigorous review process in partnership with the esteemed national organization, "Change The Equation," the STEM Council selected 14 high-quality STEM programs to "scale up" across Iowa's schools, after-school programs and other settings for grades Pre-K through 12. These programs range from building robots and wind turbines to virtual reality and STEM career awareness, demonstrating an appeal to diverse youth, success in improving academic performance, evidence of integrating STEM concepts, development of school-business-community partnerships and sustainability beyond STEM Council financial support.


Once the programs receive approval for the Scale-Up menu, educators from across the state apply for the programs. Each of the six regional STEM managers guided by their regional advisory boards review hundreds of applications before awarding the programs based on need, diversity, sustainability and other factors.


Results from the 2013-2014 Iowa STEM evaluation report show more than 90 percent of students who participated in a STEM Scale-Up program reported higher interest in at least one STEM subject or career. Nearly 75 percent of participating teachers report greater skill and confidence in teaching STEM and continue their program after the STEM Council's financial support ends.


To see a full list of awarded educators or organizations, please visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/Scale-Up/2015-2016-scale-up-programs

New look for IowaSTEM.gov

The new website improves user-friendliness, expands information and provides improved compatibility with mobile devices. 

Long a workhorse for the STEM Council, though nothing of a show horse, the venerable, albeit clunky, IowaSTEM.gov website received a makeover.


Years of input and requests from the vast STEM Council constituency, including "make it easier to navigate," "reduce the clutter" and "have something for parents, students, educators, policymakers, business leaders and communities," now reflects on the newly-renovated IowaSTEM.gov built for everyone.


Thanks to the valued work of Molly Faber, Northwest Regional STEM Manager, and Angel Mendez, the STEM Council's Communications Specialist, alongside public relations partner Strategic America, the new website focuses on reflecting the innovation and capabilities that STEM fields have helped create. It showcases the most important pieces of the STEM Council story, brand and active programming.


The project began in late September utilizing a "think tank" of the STEM Council who formed a working group and helped shape the new look and features of the website.


IowaSTEM.gov has improved user-friendliness and search engine optimization; added new pages and more content; and provided better compatibility with mobile devices. Important features, such as the calendar of events and STEM resources, are now searchable databases with usable filters for audience-specific information.


Take the new website for a spin at www.IowaSTEM.gov and let us know what you think at [email protected].

Rachel Hurley embarks on her fourth year with the Iowa STEM initiative, building bridges between her roles on the STEM Council and at Monsanto.

Bill Gelhaus, middle school teacher at West Branch Community School District, got hands-on with the State Hygienic Lab last summer during his Teacher Externship experience.

MVP for Iowa STEM:   

Rachel Hurley

Although her role outside the STEM Council has changed in the last few years, Rachel Hurley, an original member of the STEM Council, has not changed in her passion for Iowa STEM.


Serving in her fourth year on the STEM Council, Hurley began her journey as the Executive Director for the Iowa Biotechnology Association before transitioning into her new role as the Midwest Government Affairs Manager for Monsanto.


"While I was never an educator, I have always understood it's really important to help students find that 'ah-ha' moment." Hurley said. "It worked all around because I could see the potential for trying to help further my organization, and then also be a part of something bigger that would benefit our entire state."


Currently, Hurley leads the STEM Council's Support of Agricultural Science working group and has played a role in the public awareness and business engagement committees. In June, she and Monsanto will host the quarterly STEM Council meeting as well. Yet, with all that she does, Hurley claims that balancing her role with the STEM Council is not hard as STEM is never too far from conversations in both her personal and professional life.


"Part of my job includes what I need to do for STEM because not only is education important in its own realm, but if you look at what Monsanto needs, Monsanto needs young Iowans with a STEM education." Hurley said. "If I can help inspire those kids, and they end up getting degrees and staying in Iowa, then we as a company ultimately benefit."


Hurley's involvement with the STEM Council has expanded her relationships, helped her understand different perspectives from different entities around Iowa and tied in well to her professional role beyond the STEM Council.


"How do we get more kids to connect the dots? How do we make them understand they can succeed, make money and stay in Iowa but also change the world and make a difference in a lot of people's lives? It's a big task, but it's one that makes me proud to be on the STEM Council," Hurley said. "We want to do what we can, and oftentimes, it has to be more than just ponying up money to sponsor an event. It's actually getting involved in STEM, speaking to a group or adding what you can from whatever you've got."


The STEM Council salutes member Rachel Hurley and all of the committed professionals just like her who, together, account for the great progress made so far for Iowa STEM. For a list of the members of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, see www.iowastem.gov/council

Seeds of Teacher Externships sown in spring

The most valuable professional development experience they have ever had is how 93 percent of participants describe the STEM Council's Real World Externships for Teachers of mathematics, science and technology. That outcome, alongside many other metrics suggesting Teacher Externships really pack a punch, is a tribute to the people involved who work behind-the-scenes year-round to make every teacher's summer experience flow smoothly. 


Almost as soon as a summer cohort of teachers returns to implement their Teacher Extern experiences at school in the fall, the STEM Council's operations team begins setting the table for next summer by recruiting businesses from across the state to serve as Extern Hosts for the coming year. Businesses and agencies continuously cycle in and out of the program, keeping the team busy. Fortunately, University of Northern Iowa graduate student Lauren Winter ably manages communications, record-keeping and communications for the project.


"Every year, the project goes through a bit of turnover as some of our hosts take a year off while others join in, and we find that these new businesses are eager to join the program," Winter said. "Extern Hosts have the chance to educate teachers on the necessary skills their students will need to enter the workforce after they complete their education, indirectly shaping the future workforce."


Once Extern Host commitments are locked down through mid-winter, the teacher application opens in January for the array of Teacher Externship experiences across Iowa for the upcoming summer. By mid-March, the operations team begins orchestrating a complex, match-making process that best fits applicants to openings. Educators from within a 30-mile radius are alerted to opportunities at local industries, research facilities and state or county agencies. Extern Hosts weigh these applications before extending invitations for interviews with the candidates and project staff.


By early June, the Teacher Externs attend an orientation that includes preparations for work-place expectations, immersion into the Iowa Core, outcomes expectations regarding classroom translations of the experience and procedural details, including setting up weekly blogs and building project-based learning assignments. A higher education mentor coaches each Teacher Extern over the course of summer and into fall on how to navigate the six-week experience and implement new ideas into their classrooms.


"Program mentors are an incredibly important aspect of the program because they are responsible for assisting the teachers as they translate their Teacher Externship experiences into problem-based learning applications for their classrooms," Winter said. 


There is still time to get in on this summer's Teacher Externship program as an Extern Host or Teacher Extern. For more information on the program, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.iowastem.gov/externships.