Strong year for Iowa STEM! 
This year's Iowa STEM Evaluation report found that Iowa students who participated in programs of the STEM Council last year outperformed their peers in mathematics and science across all grade levels on the Iowa Assessments (page 147 of the report).
Iowans have come to trust and depend on the independent assessment of Iowa STEM each year by the inter-university consortium of Iowa State University's Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE), University of Iowa's Iowa Testing Program, and the University of Northern Iowa's Center for Social and Behavioral Research (CSBR), lead organization.
Their 2014-15 report released on August 3 details through 326 pages of charts, graphs and narrative with an in-depth analysis of gains and opportunities. Impacts range from students to parents and teachers to communities. For example, 9 out of 10 teachers who participate in the STEM Council's Teacher Externships program label it as the best professional development they have ever had. As for students, those who took part in STEM Scale-Up programs scored an average of 6 percentage points higher in mathematics and science on the Iowa Assessments. Iowans answering a telephone survey overwhelmingly believe that advancements in STEM will give more opportunities to the next generation. On top of that, the study found 376 new business-education partnerships formed through Iowa STEM programs last year.
A variety of additional indicators are monitored each year to complete the STEM story for Iowa. For example, four-year college degrees are up considerably, more students are taking Advanced Placement STEM courses, more high school teachers are getting their initial license in STEM areas and ACT-tested graduates are increasingly interested in STEM across all demographic subgroups including males, females, African Americans and Hispanics.
Although there is plenty to celebrate in the annual review of Iowa STEM, there are a number of opportunities to improve as well. The report provides STEM Council leaders with valuable, trustworthy feedback for charting the course ahead.

Visit this link to peruse the entire product of Iowa's STEM evaluation triad
and direct any questions to Dr. Erin Heiden, project coordinator at the UNI Center for Social and Behavioral Research at [email protected].

September 1, 2015
STEM BEST-RLE Proposals DUE by 5 p.m. CT
Link to Apply

September 15, 2015
Governor's STEM Advisory Council Meeting
11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Marshalltown, Iowa

Iowa STEM Operations Center
University of Northern Iowa
214 East Bartlett
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0298
PHONE 319-273-2959
E-MAIL [email protected]
Greatness STEMS From Iowans | Governor's STEM Advisory Council

Teacher Externs bring the world of work back to classrooms this fall

With opening keynote Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the STEM Council, Teacher Externs bring
their experiences full-circle by developing new ideas
 for lessons and units based on what they learned on
the job, at the year-end forum.
For teachers, there is no better way to kick off the school year than with a new lesson plan in hand completely inspired by a summer spent chin-deep in the world of business and industry.
At what has become an annual tradition, Teacher Externs and their Business Hosts, representing local businesses and agencies across the state, gathered in August to share ideas and strategies for continuously improving the program. Then, teachers assembled into content-area focus groups to collaborate on the design of the learning experiences to be implemented into their classrooms throughout Iowa this fall.
Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the STEM Council, and Executive Director Jeff Weld started the event with remarks on the success of the STEM Teacher Externships program over the last seven years, including the findings that 96 percent of Business Hosts agree or strongly agree that Teacher Externs provide significant contributions to their business during the summer, and more than 90 percent of Teacher Externs agreed or strongly agreed that the experience is the best professional development they have had.
Breakout sessions in the morning highlighted the summer experiences from both the teacher and business perspectives. Business Hosts agreed that they liked the ability to set the goals for the Teacher Externs and provide them with real-word projects to complete -- not just busy work.
"If there's a job to be done, give it to a teacher," said David Jahn, arborist with the Des Moines Public Works, in one breakout session. "They are inquisitive naturally, and for me, they brought me energy and enthusiasm."
Teacher Externs had the chance to develop their lesson plans and share across curriculums with other STEM teachers. All agreed that not only did they leave with new STEM perspectives, but they also realized the importance of integrating 21st century skills into their curriculum.
"After this, I'm starting to look at problem-solving, writing skills and communication for my students. I don't think I make them stand up and talk in front of the class enough," said Mary Glenn, life science teacher at Ames Middle School, who worked with Barilla America in Ames this summer.
For an inside look at three of this summer's STEM Teacher Externships, watch the videos or visit for more information about becoming a Teacher Extern or Business Host for summer 2016.

MVP for Iowa STEM: Deb Dunkhase

Deb Dunkhase, a founding member of the STEM Council, has been inspired by the Iowa STEM movement to incorporate more quality STEM programming into her work as Executive Director at The Iowa Children's Museum.
An early champion for out-of-school or informal STEM, Deb Dunkhase helped win STEM Council support for the programs happening in Iowa's museums, libraries and other popular places for students after the school day ends.
Dunkhase has served on the STEM Council since the beginning, holding a seat to represent those informal organizations as Executive Director of The Iowa Children's Museum. Since she began with the museum 17 years ago, she has helped draw in an annual attendance rate of 170,000 people -- a number that has increased in every one of the last 15 years. That is due in part, Dunkhase says, to what she and her staff have learned from Dunkhase's involvement on the STEM Council.
"Serving on the STEM Council has given me the opportunity to think of STEM beyond The Iowa Children's Museum and how our organization can help guide the direction of improving STEM for the entire state of Iowa," Dunkhase said. "We're learning more about quality STEM active learning and doing more to improve our own STEM programming because of the work that we've been exposed to through the STEM Council."
In fact, "STEM Family Free Night" at her museum was one of the first programs to receive the STEM Council's Seal of Approval. Yet, her relationship with the STEM Council has been an even give-and-take opportunity with her supporting regional advisory boards with free meeting space at her facility and donating family pack tickets to the museum for STEM Day at the Iowa State Fair.
Her contributions date back to the start of the Iowa STEM initiative, serving on the Public Awareness committee and chairing the group that turned the idea of STEM Scale-Up programs into today's reality. After the rollout of the program, Dunkhase and a few other STEM Council members brought forth the idea to support informal STEM happening in out-of-school learning environments and created the STEM Active Learning Community Partners (ALCP) working group.
"We surveyed several groups involved in out-of-school STEM, and the first thing we realized is the greatest need for all of us is professional development," Dunkhase said. "We're all working independently, so we're spending valuable time and resources creating STEM learning experiences and delivering similar STEM programs without having the opportunity to learn from each other and share best practices."
The group started with a couple of workshops at DuPont Pioneer in Johnston and at the World Food Prize in Des Moines that focused on sharing best practices and working with content experts to help create STEM themes. Now, the group is scaling the workshops into the six STEM regions, aligning resources, such as Click2Science and the Dimensions of Success (DoS) Planning Guide from the Pear Institute at Harvard, to provide professional development to as many different out-of-school providers across the state as possible.
"We have enough qualified and interested people in this working group, on the STEM Council and in the state of Iowa that by working together, we can improve student's attitudes toward and interest in STEM in the out-of-school learning environment," Dunkhase said. "Everything you do on the STEM Council to improve STEM in Iowa has a direct impact on children's lives. If helping improve the lives of children matters to you, this is a great way to volunteer your time and energy."
The next round of the STEM ALCP workshops begin in September. For more information, visit
Members like Deb Dunkhase make the STEM Council such an effective, trailblazing organization. Thank you, Deb!

"Nothing Compares" to STEM Day at the Iowa State Fair

STEM Day at the Iowa State Fair attracted thousands of families with dozens of hands-on STEM activities, a STEM Scavenger Hunt, four STEM stage acts and a Fair-wide buzz of excitement for Iowa STEM.
Some people come for the butter cow. Some people come for the carnival rides. Yet, on the last day of the Iowa State Fair, thousands of people took a detour from the regular attractions to take part in a family-fun STEM experience on the Grand Concourse.
Thanks to 24 exhibiting organizations from across the state, STEM Day at the Fair, supported by a generous gift from Rockwell Collins, attracted thousands of people and introduced families and young Iowans to Iowa STEM and the different opportunities or careers in the state. Exhibitors offered a variety of hands-on STEM activities, making robotic hands, flying small drones, learning about plant pollination and more.
"The students insisted on it," said Andy Marshall, FIRST senior mentor, about exhibiting at STEM Day at the Fair. "They had so much fun engaging thousands and thousands of people last year, they told their friends, and so the choice wasn't mine to make anymore."
Hundreds of families took on the STEM Scavenger Hunt that asked participants to complete STEM activities on the Grand Concourse, answer a question at the MidAmerican Energy Education Center and use the virtual reality welding simulator in the American Welding Society Lincoln Electric Semi. Three winners who completed the activities were selected in a drawing for donated, family-pack tickets to the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, The Iowa Children's Museum and the Science Center of Iowa and IMAX Theater.
Four stage acts headlined the morning at the MidAmerican Energy Stage and Knapp Stage, including the Science Center of Iowa, FIRST Robotics Team Neutrino, the Grout Museum District and Blank Park Zoo.
Fairgoers were adorned with "Greatness STEMs from Iowans" shoulder bags to carry their trinkets as well as the STEM message across the fairgrounds, and one of seven STEM Gems, Albert Wiggins, science teacher at Bunger Middle School in Evansdale, signed posters and captured imaginations with combustible wizardry. Former STEM Council co-chair and Vermeer's CEO and Chair of the Board Mary Andringa walked alongside her co-chair Lt. Governor Reynolds, who brought along her two grandsons to introduce them to the STEM experience.
STEM Day at the Fair is the grandest single event coordinated on behalf of STEM Council. Only through broad inter-agency cooperation among exhibitors, volunteers, vendors, State Fair staff and investors like Rockwell Collins can the Iowa STEM message touch so many Iowans in one day. Shortly, an event evaluation report intended for the sponsor will be publicly available upon request at [email protected].
If you missed the event, you can still experience the excitement of the day by watching this video or checking out our photo spread on Facebook.