Together = Better 
Midwest STEM leaders compare notes
Iowa State Representative Dave Jacoby briefed STEM leaders from across the Midwest on the importance of STEM to Iowa's legislature and the value of evidence being generated.
Iowa's third annual convening of neighboring state STEM leaders and partners was a charm. Twenty-five champions representing Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Utah (honorary Midwesterners!), alongside Iowa with partners from ACT, Inc., John Deere, Rockwell Collins and Vermeer flipped open their playbooks. Organized by the operations team of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council and hosted by ACT, Inc. in Iowa City, attendees spent a day and a half in late September, cross-pollinating best practices as well as instructive pitfalls.

A profile of the University of Iowa's STEM Innovator program on the evening before set a tone of collaborative sharing that permeated the next day's agenda. The University of Chicago's Michael Lach opened the morning with lively commentary on the hot-button STEM issues emerging of late. State champions then highlighted successes ranging from the establishment of corporate partnerships and higher education networks, as well as common challenges, including the integration of the arts and the professional development of STEM teachers. ACT's Steve Triplett, a member of the STEM Council, foreshadowed some of the attention-grabbing statistics coming forth in next month's state-by-state "Condition of STEM" report. The Education Commission of the States' Jennifer Dounay Zinth provided a bird's eye view of legislation driving STEM reform across the nation. Plus, Iowa's State Representative Dave Jacoby delivered high-value commentary on generating and maintaining legislative support for STEM in the Midwest. STEM programming of John Deere, Rockwell Collins and Vermeer stirred intentions toward stronger business-education ties across states.

The exploration of a Midwest STEM Summit, a virtual community and strategic plans to interface with organizations of state legislators are the next steps. For additional information regarding the Midwest STEM Forum series, send an e-mail to  [email protected].

October 19, 2015
SC Iowa Family STEM Festival
6:00-8:00 p.m.
FFA Enrichment Center, DMACC
Ankeny, Iowa
Link to Register

November 10, 2015
Cedar Valley Family STEM Festival
4:00-7:30 p.m.
Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center
Waterloo, Iowa
More Information

Iowa STEM Operations Center
University of Northern Iowa
214 East Bartlett
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0298
PHONE 319-273-2959
E-MAIL [email protected]

STEM Council Meeting XIII focuses on how to sustain Iowa's STEM foundation

A total of 103 Iowa STEM advocates from across the  
state packed the room at Lennox Industries in Marshalltown as the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council convened earlier this month.
Two heads are better than one--or rather in this instance--103 heads. The STEM Council convened for their 13th meeting alongside invited regional STEM advisory board members and other stakeholders to develop new ideas on advancing and sustaining the state's STEM effort.
Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the STEM Council, set the stage for the day by arriving early to address a gathering of regional STEM advisory board members who had assembled to compare notes and strategies.
"We've received national recognition," Lt. Gov. Reynolds said. "Other states are looking at what we're doing here in Iowa and trying to emulate it. I think the back-bone of that success started in 2011 with the Regional [STEM] Network system."
A way to measure that success comes from an independent evaluation produced by an inter-university consortium of Iowa's three public universities. This group of evaluators opened the STEM Council meeting by breaking down the 2014-2015 Iowa STEM Evaluation report released last month and unveiling the Iowa STEM Professional Network Analysis that shows the growth of professional connections from 2007 to 2015 supporting the state's STEM effort.
Three of the STEM Council's work groups provided updates before the STEM Council heard Doug Hoelscher, the state's director of federal relations, provide an overview of the National Governors Association Talent Pipeline to Workforce Policy Academy. Jeremy Varner, administrator of the division of community colleges with the Iowa Department of Education, also introduced the group to the overlapping work of the Secondary Career and Technical Education Task Force.
With the meeting in Marshalltown, the near-center of Iowa and also the center of large community support for STEM, local school leaders and a sampling of students led a panel to talk about their personal success with STEM Scale-Up programs and activities. All students agreed they want more STEM and school leaders continue to strive towards ensuring equity and access to the programs for their wonderfully diverse population.
That was one of the topics a panel of executive committee members of the STEM Council touched upon during an open conversation with attendees about how to sustain and grow Iowa's STEM foundation. The panel was unanimous that more communication and coordination across agencies is crucial to its success, and some panelists highly recommended proactively sharing highlights and successes with observers within and beyond state boundaries.
Panelist Rob Denson, Des Moines Area Community College president, may have summed up how to get more Iowa STEM support, "You excite the kids, who excite the parents, who excite the businesses, who excite the legislators to make a change. [Students] are the base we need to address."
For meeting minutes and documents, please visit

Using the "T" to teach the "M" -- ST Math scales across Iowa

A room full of kindergartners from the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District in Cresco
intently engage in one of this year's newest
Scale-Up programs, ST Math. 
It is not your typical kindergarten classroom. Although full of the boundless energy of youth, the room is so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Every child is seated, eyes glued to their iPads, headphones on, some smiling and some intently focused on reaching the next level in a game called, ST (Spatial-Temporal) Math.
Yet, what these future STEM-ers are doing is more than a game. Part of the STEM pedagogy is to integrate STEM principles into one another for effective learning. MIND Research Institute's ST Math, a new STEM Scale-Up program offered this year, does just that by using the "T" (for technology) in STEM and a student's love for video games to teach mathematics.
Kris Voves, teacher at Crestwood Elementary in Cresco, is one of three teachers leading 60 first-graders through ST Math who show a great interest in the new method of learning.
"One of the things that is neat to see is watching the kids become problem-solvers by manipulating objects to get the correct answer," Voves said. "It's also helpful that we're able to track each student's progress. Some students who are normally not independent during group and individual activities are independent during ST Math."
The year-long, K-12 supplemental curriculum created in 1997 aligns with Common Core standards and is one of 14 STEM Scale-Up programs currently being implemented across Iowa this fall. This year, nearly 80 schools in Iowa, equating to thousands of students, will participate in the program focused on boosting mathematics comprehension and proficiency through visual learning and puzzles.
Data provided by ST Math shows that participating Iowa schools in the past have enjoyed a six percentile growth in mathematics proficiency among students using ST Math compared to a 1.1 percentile growth for non-ST Math users. More than 2,500 schools and nearly one million students have used ST Math to-date.
"As a social benefit non-profit organization, MIND Research Institute works with national and local partners to expand the reach and impact of our ST Math program," said Brian Molitor, strategic partnerships director for MIND Research Institute. "The STEM Council has been an exemplary partner in our efforts to provide more students with access to ST Math, which will give them the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills they will need to achieve success in today's economy."
The current STEM Scale-Up programs will be invited in November to reapply alongside new programs interested in partnering with the STEM Council for next year's offerings. For a full list of current programs, visit

MVP for Iowa STEM: Kemin Industries 

The I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award is just one of many ways that Kemin Industries has helped advance Iowa STEM to promising achievements.

Kemin Industries, known for its "inspired molecular solutions," inspires STEM solutions as well in partnership with the STEM Council by serving as an example for business and industry partners who wish to help ignite young Iowan minds toward STEM careers.
For the last four years, Kemin's contributions to Iowa STEM represent a full array of time, talent and treasures. The company has cost-shared and hosted 19 STEM Teacher Externs for the last seven years and has previously supported STEM classrooms and statewide STEM events. Alissa Jourdan, director of discovery research and worldwide R&D coordinator at Kemin, has served on the STEM Council since the beginning with Kemin President and CEO Dr. Chris Nelson recently accepting an invitation to co-chair the STEM Council alongside Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.
Now in its second year, Kemin Industries also sponsors the I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award that honors STEM educators who are making a significant difference in the lives of students across the state by providing excellent curriculum, encouraging lifelong learning and inspiring a passion for STEM beyond the classroom and into the future.
"As teachers, you will help shape Iowa's economic future by introducing today's students to the opportunities that exist in STEM fields by educating and equipping them to become better members of tomorrow's workforce," Jourdan said at the launch of the award at the Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics and Iowa Academy of Science-Iowa Science Teaching Section (ICTM-ISTS) conference this month.
One teacher in each of the six STEM regions will receive this honor along with $1,500 for their classroom and $1,500 for personal use. Nominations for the award will be accepted until December 11 at
This month, the honor of MVP for Iowa STEM goes to Kemin Industries. We are grateful for all of your efforts--seen and unseen--to grow Iowa's young learners into the STEM innovators of the future.