STEM Council's signature STEM Scale-Up Program nets results

Making STEM Connections, a program offered by the Science Center of Iowa included in the 2016-17 STEM Scale-Up Program array, will be one of 11 high-quality STEM projects awarded to educators and implemented across Iowa this fall.
Tulips and daffodils are not the only things blooming this spring across Iowa -- better test scores and higher interest have blossomed among more than 100,000 young learners who have taken part in one of 14 current STEM projects awarded to educators in and out of school this year through the STEM Scale-Up Program.
For Iowa STEM, spring is a season for both harvesting results of last year's crop and for sowing seeds for next year. Under a blanket of January snow, members of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council and friends were scouring the globe to bring world-class STEM to PreK-12 youth throughout the state. Of more than 40 proposals, the STEM Council's Executive Committee approved 11 carefully chosen programs for 2016-17. Each has a proven track record of success, and collectively, they balance the S-T-E-M spectrum and the K-12 range.
About 3,000 educators across Iowa took part in applications to bring these outstanding programs to their schools, clubs and organizations. Exciting learning experiences to come range from building robots and coding programs to natural resource protection and mathematical sense-making with many of the programs including a STEM careers component.
Iowa's six regional STEM managers, guided by their regional STEM advisory boards, awarded these programs with vital funding from the Iowa Legislature, leveraging $3.1 million spread evenly across the state's six STEM regions. The demand far exceeded capacity again this year with nearly $6 million in applications, making the award decisions very challenging and the investments from the STEM Council's Corporate Partners very precious. Applications came from 256 cities in Iowa with the highest application rate coming from elementary educators.
Results from the 2014-15 Iowa STEM evaluation report show all grade levels of students who participated in the STEM Scale-Up Program scored an average of six percentage points higher in National Percentile Rank on the Iowa Assessments in both mathematics and science compared to students statewide.
For a complete list of 2016-17 STEM Scale-Up Program awardees, please click here.
The Corporate Partners who help support this impactful program are included in the roster at www.IowaSTEM.gov/corporate-partners.

May 3, 2016
Statewide STEM Tour
Howard-Winneshiek CSD
2:00 to 3:00 PM
More Information

May 5, 2016
Statewide STEM Tour
Bettendorf CSD
1:45 to 2:45 PM
More Information

May 26, 2016
NC Iowa Family STEM Festival
5:30 to 7:30 PM
More Information

June 29, 2016
Iowa STEM School+Business Innovation Conference
9:00 AM to 3:30 PM
More Information

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

Outstanding STEM teachers honored at Terrace Hill

The six 2016 I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award recipients were recognized by Governor Branstad and STEM Council Co-Chairs Lt. Governor Reynolds and Kemin Industries President and CEO Dr. Nelson at the STEM Council's reception of the Future Ready Iowa Summit at Terrace Hill on April 18.
Iowa has been known as "a place to grow" and "life-changing," yet to the STEM Council -- thanks to the vision and investment of Kemin Industries -- I.O.W.A. represents our state's excellent STEM educators who are Innovative in their methods, Outstanding in their passion for education, Worldly in how they help their students see STEM all around them and Academic in engaging students both in and out of the classroom.
"We are extremely appreciative of STEM teachers in Iowa. This award is just one of the ways we enjoy honoring the hard work and dedication of exceptional teachers in our state," said Kemin Industries President and CEO Dr. Chris Nelson, STEM Council co-chair. "These teachers deserve recognition for preparing today's students to become tomorrow's workforce, which includes an abundance of STEM opportunities."
In the second year of the I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award, six of Iowa's most inspiring teachers of STEM subjects received award presentations in March at their schools and then formal recognition earlier this month at Terrace Hill. Each teacher received $1,500 and an additional $1,500 for their classrooms.
The 2016 I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award recipients are:
North Central STEM Region
Ed Birkey, Technology and Engineering Teacher
Fort Dodge High School
Northeast STEM Region
Dirk Homewood, Project Lead The Way and Mathematics Teacher
Cedar Falls High School
Northwest STEM Region
Kent Muyskens, Science Teacher
Carroll High School
South Central STEM Region
Ryan Lensing, Science Teacher
Dowling Catholic High School
Southeast STEM Region
Reagan Boeset, 6-8th Grade STEM Teacher
Clear Creek Amana Middle School
Southwest STEM Region
Erin Wetzel, Project Lead The Way and Computers Teacher
Southwest Valley Middle School
To read more about each recipient or to watch videos from the 2015 awardees, head to www.IowaSTEM.gov/TeacherAward.
MVP for Iowa STEM: Gail Wortmann  

Gail Wortmann, a founding member of the STEM Council and Executive Committee, has a passion for representing Iowa's K-12 educators, bringing more than 40 years of experience teaching STEM in the classroom and online.
Among all of the programs and resources offered by the STEM Council, the majority focus on equipping Iowa's educators with the tools necessary to inspire a new generation of STEM-literate-and-talented Iowans interested and able to fill the most in-demand jobs of today and the future.
The STEM Council, made up of leaders from business and industry, state and local government, non-profit, higher education and more, also benefits from the insight of Iowa's educators thanks to the leadership of this month's MVP for Iowa STEM Gail Wortmann, whose passion is to help align Iowa STEM with K-12 education.
Governor Branstad appointed Wortmann to the STEM Council in 2011 where she continues to serve on both the STEM Council and the Executive Committee. She has contributed to the Broadband for Iowa working group and helped birth the STEM Council's Seal of Approval among other valued contributions.
Wortmann claims she "STEM-ed" long before the acronym existed, working in the classroom as a science teacher for more than 30 years before transitioning to her current role with Iowa Learning Online as the developer/instructor and master teacher. This initiative, through the Iowa Department of Education, helps students take courses online that might not be offered in their schools. Wortmann not only teaches human anatomy and physiology, but she also helps evaluate other online teachers and writes curriculum.
She admits teaching a course online that has traditionally been taught as a lab-based course has "been a ride," yet she recognizes that is exactly what STEM is about -- adapting to meet the needs of our future economy.
"My thoughts immediately go to the outsourcing of jobs in the U.S. or how we are having to bring people in from other countries to fill our jobs. To change that culture, we're going to have to make a purposeful effort to grow our own, and STEM is the key to making that happen," she said. "Participating in such a wonderful, effective campaign has value to me personally -- to meet people who are so passionate about this particular part of education is an honor."
We are honored to have Gail and the other 46 members of the STEM Council paving the way for Iowa STEM. See the full list of members at www.IowaSTEM.gov/Council.

STEM is key to Future Ready Iowa

Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise and nine other past and present members of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council shared the stage at the Governor's 2016 Future Ready Iowa Summit.

Right: Governor Branstad hosted the STEM Council for a reception at Terrace Hill on the eve of his 2016 Future Ready Iowa Summit.
Hall C of Des Moines' Hy-Vee Hall was a sea of citizens gathered to tackle the challenges to a Future Ready Iowa on April 19. Woven into the fabric of the event were many citations of the progress, programs and people who make up Iowa STEM. And for good reason-Iowa's economic future depends on a steady stream of talent to drive vital economic sectors, including advanced manufacturing, bioscience in agriculture and medicine, information technology and finance.
In fact, the two topics STEM and Future Ready Iowa are so mutually dependent that rather than hold the customary spring STEM conference, the STEM Council's interests and its members were deemed to be better served integrated into the broader discussion -- and were they!
A rousing announcement by Governor Branstad as part of his opening remarks declared the STEM Council's BEST (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) model a priority for expansion across the state in the coming years. Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the STEM Council, followed with an information technology imperative for Iowa personified by Sioux City third grade coding prodigy Langston who embodies a bright Iowa future. Then, Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) Director Andreas Schleicher framed that future succinctly as, "Your school system today is your economy of tomorrow."
Over the course of the six hours to follow, the compelling voices of STEM Council Co-Chair Dr. Chris Nelson and fellow STEM Council members Debi Durham, Mark Putnam, Bill Ruud, Paul Schickler, Beth Townsend, Jeff Weld, Ryan Wise and many more contributors to Iowa STEM past, present and, hopefully, future collectively issued a cautious optimism that our hard work is on course, yet more urgent than ever. Iowa STEM is very much about Future Ready Iowans.
A conference of community business and education leaders who wish to share and learn more about establishing and growing school+business partnerships like STEM BEST is planned for Wednesday, June 29. More information is available at www.IowaSTEM.gov/school-business-conference.