National education conversation echoes Iowa STEM 

State education leaders spent December 8 with U.S. Department of Education Director Arne Duncan and his successor John King at the White House discussing key issues. (From left to right, the National Mathematics and Science Initiative's Marcus Lingenfelter, Iowa STEM's Jeff Weld and Maryland STEM's Cindy Hasselbring).
Twice in December, Iowa STEM leaders were invited to the White House to discuss hot-button education issues, and in both instances, gave as much as they got. On December 8, U.S. Department of Education Director Arne Duncan hosted education leaders from 43 states, mostly state education directors and education chairs of state legislatures, to situate the imminent signing of the "Every Student Succeeds Act" (ESSA).

Discussion topics ranged from re-thinking high school and advancing computer science to creative teacher preparation models. Iowa's innovations in these spaces, the STEM BEST model, Code Iowa and the STEM Council's Computer Science Working Group recommendations and the state's STEM teaching endorsements were shared over the course of the day by STEM Council Executive Director Dr. Jeff Weld who engaged Duncan in an idea exchange regarding STEM teacher preparation. Duncan pointed out a component of the ESSA that allows states to use Title II funds to set up teacher-preparation "academies" both inside and outside of higher education, a concept not without controversy.

Then on December 10, STEM Council Executive Committee member and Howard-Winneshiek Community School District Superintendent John Carver joined a select group of school leaders at the White House to help with the debut of the "National Technology Education Plan." Among the plan's multiple reforms is a toolbox for superintendents who wish to lead and innovate in technology, featuring 50 exemplar videos - six of which are from Iowa's Howard-Winneshiek's school district (watch here).

For more on "The National Technology Education Plan," visit ESSA can be accessed in its entirety at Iowa is well-represented in the national education conversation and well positioned as a leader.

January 22, 2016
I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award Applications due
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January 25, 2016

2016-17 STEM Scale-Up Program Educator Application opens
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STEM Council
Operations Center
University of Northern Iowa
214 East Bartlett
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0298
PHONE 319-273-2959
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Iowans take a big "byte" of coding 

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the STEM Council, joins
Gov. Terry Branstad in launching Computer Science Education
 Week earlier this month with more than 750 students at
Jordan Creek Elementary School.
Early December's celebration of computer science in Iowa worked to inspire thousands of students across the state to try a "byte" of the computer programming world.
Computer Science Education Week in Iowa began Dec. 7 when Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the STEM Council, kicked off a coding assembly at Jordan Creek Elementary School. Dr. Jeff Weld joined by Aaron Witt, a sixth-grade teacher, and two of Witt's students talked about the importance of coding in Iowa schools to meet the demand of future jobs.
Later that morning, the STEM Council announced the names of six Iowa schools that received a combined $30,000 in technology awards for their participation in's international challenge called the "Hour of Code." This partnership, referred to as "Code Iowa," localizes's effort to introduce 100 million students around the world to at least one hour of computer coding. In Iowa, participation doubled from last year with 937 schools and organizations, amounting to thousands of students, that took part in the "Hour of Code" during Computer Science Education Week.
Each year, awards one school in each state with a $10,000 technology award based on its proposal that outlines how the school plans to implement an hour of computer coding into its curriculum for every grade level. With the support of Google, the STEM Council partnered with to award $4,000 each to five more schools - one in each STEM region that did not receive the award. The six recipients of the technology awards will use the money to purchase new instructional technology.
All public and private schools in Iowa that registered for the "Hour of Code" are Certified Code Iowa Partners of the STEM Council and will receive information about free K-5 Computer Science teacher workshops to be offered in early 2016. If your school participated in the "Hour of Code," send us an e-mail at [email protected] to learn more and receive your certificate.
MVP for Iowa STEM: Beth Hochstedler 

Beth Hochstedler (second from left), a member of the STEM Council, works with colleague Rick Bonar of the State Hygienic Laboratory (far right) and students at a new STEM BEST model located at the University of Iowa Research Park.
A strong advocate for education at both the state and national levels, Beth Hochstedler's passion for Iowa STEM pre-dates her appointment to the STEM Council in 2013.
Hochstedler started her 26-year journey with the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa as an environmental scientist before making the transition to her current role as the program director for the laboratory's Education Training and Outreach section. It was in this role that Hochstedler met Dr. Jeff Weld who invited her to serve on a committee to develop the Iowa STEM Education Roadmap in 2010.
The emergent partnership between the State Hygienic Laboratory and the Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership, directed by Dr. Weld at that time, led to Iowa's first family STEM festival hosted at the laboratory in Coralville in 2011 that drew in more than 2,000 people. Since then, the STEM festival concept has been officially adopted into the Iowa STEM Regional Network, inspiring more than two dozen festivals to take place across Iowa every year.
Hochstedler and the laboratory have also been significant partners with Iowa STEM Teacher Externships, hosting nine Teacher Externs since 2011 for six-week immersive professional development opportunities for teachers of STEM subjects.
"We find it to be an extremely beneficial program for Iowa," Hochstedler said. "We get to partner with the teachers to extend the reach of how we can get public health and environmental laboratory science information to a large number of students."
Since joining the STEM Council, Hochstedler has steadily contributed to a variety of initiatives, especially the Active Learning Community working group of late. Her close ties to Iowa STEM have allowed her and other staff of the laboratory to partner with STEM Innovator, a STEM BEST model operating at the Kirkwood Regional Center.
Her contributions scale nationally as a member of the national workforce development committee of the Association of Public Health Laboratories where she showcases the STEM Council on a much larger platform.
"I always hear, 'Wow, you're from Iowa? They are really one of the leaders in STEM,' and it's so great to be a part of that," she said. "I recognize that we truly are stepping up in a leadership role for the nation in STEM and the future workforce, and it's an important mission that I can clearly see from serving on the STEM Council."
As this month's MVP for Iowa STEM, we are grateful for Beth's contributions as well as the devotion and commitment of all members of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council.

Iowa STEM Council Meeting XIV  

Dr. Jeff Weld facilitates the 14th meeting of the Iowa Governor's STEM
Advisory Council, a day slated for collaborative strategic
planning for the future of Iowa STEM.
With four years and 14 meetings since the first-ever gathering of the STEM Council in September 2011, members returned to the Science Center of Iowa earlier this month to reflect on progress and chart the course ahead.
Preceded by an executive committee meeting awash in sagacity regarding new direction, the STEM Council's focus was strategic planning. STEM Council Co-chair Dr. Chris Nelson, president and CEO of Kemin Industries, opened the meeting with an expansive view of the group's work as key to economic development for Iowa, but more importantly, to prepare citizens to deal with the broader critical issues of our times such as climate change and food safety.
The Computer Science and Agriculture Science Working Groups then provided updates, both of which have moved forward on their recommendations proposed last June. Dr. Erin Heiden, senior researcher at the Center for Social and Behavioral Research at the University of Northern Iowa, provided new data on this year's public awareness survey, including a jump from 41 percent to 51 percent of Iowans who recognize the STEM acronym.
The remainder of the day centered on table group discussions, analyzing threats and opportunities facing Iowa STEM. Emergent concerns from discussion groups included the consistency of legislative support, the omnipresent possibility of mission drift, policy barriers to business-education partnerships and sustainability of current programs. A few of the opportunities offered included developing more statewide partnerships across stakeholder sectors, keeping the state legislature informed on both research and program successes and offering a variety of opportunities for business and education of all sizes to collaborate through the STEM Council.
Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend stood in for Lt. Gov. Reynolds to recap the day's findings, observing the strong public mandate for STEM revealed by the statewide survey. Dr. Nelson closed the meeting by asking STEM Council members to set a goal for themselves: "Mark your calendars for 30 days from now. Once that day arrives, ask yourself 'What did I do for Iowa STEM in the last 30 days?' and 'What will I do in the next 30 days?'"
A detailed account of the opportunities, threats and action items identified on the day, as well as a complete archive of presentations and handouts from the December 16 meeting will be posted at