Iowa STEM moves with Intel i7 speed on computer science

Students at Lincoln Elementary School in Cedar Falls take on computer coding, an increasingly common sight across the state as a result of Code Iowa. 
The Computer Science (CS) Working Group of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council is micro-processing at 4 GHz on a number of levels to realize our state's leadership expectations in CS.
At this very moment, code (legal, not Java!) inspired by the group is winding through the state legislature. House File 2324 would require every Iowa high school to offer at least one high-quality computer science course by the 2018-19 school year. And in support of the roll-out, HF 2324 calls for a CS Advisory Council at the Department of Education to deliver by October 2016 recommendations for high quality standards, career-technical integration, graduation requirement options, course delivery modes, a K-12 CS pathway and licensure guidance.
Meanwhile, the STEM Council's Working Group, co-led by Mark Gruwell and Ann Watts, is developing a CS teaching endorsement, surveying existent CS offerings across Iowa and studying course substitution and requirement models toward graduation. They expect to deliver all products by early summer.
And, Iowa is fortunate to have Mark, Ann and group member Craig Martinson involved in developing the K-12 CS Framework led by a national consortium organized by Code.org. (Mark is on the writing team with Ann and Craig helping Code.org with dissemination planning.) Targeted for distribution across the nation by September 2016, drafts of the Framework are being reviewed by Iowa's CS Working Group as well.
Iowa operates squarely in the C: drive of national trends in computer science, equipping our youth to take a gigabyte of the future.

March 1, 2016
STEM Scale-Up Program educator applications due
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March 5, 2016
NW Iowa Family STEM Festival
10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Clay County Regional Events Center, Spencer, Iowa
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March 16, 2016
Girls in STEM Festival
9:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Iowa Lakes Community College, Estherville, IA
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March 17, 2016
Woodbine Preschool STEM Festival
5:00 PM to 7:30 PM
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March 18, 2016
Statewide STEM Tour
IKM-Manning CSD
1:15 PM to 2:15 PM
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March 22, 2016
Harlan CSD STEM Festival
5:00 PM to 7:30 PM
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STEM Council
Operations Center
University of Northern Iowa
214 East Bartlett
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0298
PHONE 319-273-2959
E-MAIL [email protected]

The STEM Council Operations Center's secret weapon

The four University of Northern Iowa students (pictured above) who make up the student assistant team of the STEM   Council's operations center contribute in advancing some of Iowa STEM's most successful programs.
Over the almost five-year course of Iowa's nationally acclaimed STEM initiative, some have marveled at how much gets done by the operations center housed at the University of Northern Iowa. Seemingly incessant meetings, conferences, reports, grant proposals, communications, studies and other duties emanate from the Cedar Valley to steer our ambitious STEM Council agenda across the state.
Often, the operations team -- Jeff, Kari, Carrie, Angel and Becky credit their "secret weapon" in moving things forward so effectively. It is a small, yet powerful, force of student assistants who help generate the output of the STEM Council's operations center -- Madison Flesch, a sophomore chemistry major with a nanoscience and nanotechnology minor from Waukee; Cassara Higgins, a senior chemistry and physics major from Brandon; Ansley O'Brien, a sophomore public relations and marketing major from Cedar Rapids; and Anna Rasmussen, a freshman mathematics major with a statistics minor from Johnston.
Each student has her own respective portfolio of projects to concentrate upon; however, each one is at the ready to shift into high gear if another priority project springs up. It is a win-win scenario as these students significantly expand the capacity of the operations center, and the experience they are getting as part of the STEM Council team will be invaluable in their future career endeavors.
The mark they are making, especially regarding their work on the STEM Scale-Up Program, the Iowa STEM Teacher Externships Program, database management, studies, surveys and other aspects of the operation are making an impact on the lives of many thousands of learners across Iowa. It is so often the case that "behind the scenes" work is the most important yet the least heralded. We are taking this opportunity to acknowledge their contributions (and the contributions of all the student assistants who came before them) amidst their studies and other commitments as students at the University of Northern Iowa.
MVP for Iowa STEM: Catherine Swoboda 

Catherine Swoboda, a founding member of the STEM Council, considers her fellow STEM Council members "comrades" in the fight to make students more aware of and equipped to solve the world's biggest problems.
With STEM comes the ability to problem solve--a trait needed more and more in today's world where new diseases emerge, economies roil and the atmosphere endures assault. Fortunately, the STEM Council is made up of people dedicated to inspiring students to solve those problems, including this month's MVP for Iowa STEM, Catherine Swoboda, who works within and beyond the STEM Council to equip today's students to use STEM in ending world hunger.
In her four and a half years on the STEM Council, Swoboda has served on the team that dreamed up the STEM Scale-Up Program and currently serves on the Active Learning Community Partners Working Group and the Agriculture in STEM Working Group.
Her contributions thus far align directly with her professional role as the director of planning for The World Food Prize. The group recognizes Iowa native Dr. Norman Borlaug as a state role model who pursued a STEM education, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 and ultimately changed the course of history, making a global impact on the way we manage the world's food supply.
Swoboda believes Iowa's students today can have the same, if not greater influence, but only if they have the proper exposure to quality STEM education. She acknowledges that the STEM interest generated and infused through educators by the STEM Council since 2011 has helped draw more interest into The World Food Prize from students across Iowa.
"I think of the STEM Council members as comrades in inspiring the next generation that will carry on Dr. Borlaug's legacy," she said. "Quite simply, STEM education is essential to our children's future, the future of the state and the world. Students who are now in school are going to be confronted with enormous and complex challenges for themselves, for their own children and for their children's children. We urgently need young people to be aware of those challenges and to be prepared to confront them. Equipping them with the skills and the tools through a STEM education is absolutely critical to do so."
With that, we celebrate Catherine's contributions to the STEM Council and thank the other 46 members of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council.

Iowa Capitol Rotunda swarmed by story-telling STEM-ers

With the help of more than 170 partners at 31 exhibits, STEM Day at the Capitol helped inform legislators on the various STEM activities, programs and partnerships operating through the STEM Council.
On February 18, the STEM Council filled the Capitol Rotunda with hundreds of STEM programs and partners from across the state to educate and show state legislators what Iowa STEM looks like in today's classrooms, museums, afterschool clubs and more.
The seventh annual "STEM Day at the Capitol" sponsored by John Deere and Rockwell Collins gathered 31 interactive exhibits, staffed by more than 170 STEM professionals and participants. Together, they helped tell the story of the growing partnerships between the STEM Council and entities across all sectors of Iowa, including the program providers for the STEM Scale-Up Program, STEM BEST-STEM RLE models, youth agencies, nonprofits, higher education and more.
Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds welcomed Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Michelle Lee, also the first woman to lead the United States Patent and Trademark Office, who gave opening remarks at the event. Alongside Senator Brian Schoenjahn and Representative Cecil Dolecheck, the group talked about the STEM Council and its successes so far at a local and national level, celebrating the support of a bi-partisan legislature.
Between the exhibitors and the state lawmakers invited, the Capitol Rotunda drew in roughly 450 people focused on the STEM happening around Iowa. For more pictures from the day, please visit our Facebook page and feel free to "like" us.