STEM in Your World

By: Carrie Rankin, Managing Director for the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council

Physics plays an important role in sports. The angle of the foot and the force behind the kick are key components to making difficult shots. #STEMinYourWorld

 

Since creation, the mission of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council has been to raise interest in and awareness of STEM education in Iowa. This message has evolved and circulated throughout the state in the last seven years with the help of STEM advocates talking and working with each other to integrate STEM learning in business, industry, legislature, schools, libraries, and other locations throughout the state. This diverse and vast group of STEM supporters represent some of the most important components of STEM: inclusivity, creativity and collaboration.

Often times, STEM is regarded as the acronym for “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” however STEM can and should also be viewed as an overall interdisciplinary approach to learning. STEM education encourages skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking and communication to be interwoven into STEM principles, working seamlessly to provide a complete academic foundation that inspires minds and strengthens Iowa’s economic and workforce development.

With all this in mind, the Iowa STEM team organized a social media campaign (#STEMinYourWorld) to showcase anyone and everyone who recognizes the various applications and activities where STEM is present, including science experiments, exploring in nature, solving math problems, but also less traditional examples such as cooking, building things and even playing computer games.

The “STEM in Your World” social media campaign garnered more than 125 different submissions and thousands of impressions showing real-world photos and videos of Iowans practicing and admiring STEM. These submissions were displayed at STEM Day at the Iowa State Fair on Sunday, August 19 in a live exhibit where individuals passing by could be inspired by their own peers.

Thank you to our STEM supporters across the state who continue to demonstrate STEM in their lives every day.

Engage with us online using #STEMinYourWorld to share examples of STEM in your everyday life! Read more about STEM in Your World

Final Reflections: Iowa STEM Teacher Externship

By: Paul Mugan, Waverly-Shell Rock High School Teacher

What was the most impactful or favorite aspect of your externship?  By far my favorite part was being able to establish relationships with four quality people who are passionate about what they're doing. When one puts those two facets of work together it makes the situation a lot of fun. Certainly while we worked very hard at times, knowing that we had each other's backs made for a wonderful bonding experience.

This externship exposed me to the day-to-day activities of natural resource management work. I was impressed by the level of education required to do the work well. All three of the full-time guys had four-year degrees. The seasonal summer worker was one year away from finishing his four year degree. I could envision some of my students who are passionate about hunting and fishing and being outdoors thoroughly enjoying this kind of work.

While there were some parts of this experience in which the tasks were completely in my wheelhouse; there were others that took me well outside of my comfort zone. We had an opportunity to do a visual survey of dragonflies and as I have done a great deal of insect collecting, I was right at home with this activity. However, there were many instances where I was a completely ignorant participant. For example, mixing chemicals to spray on food plots or driving different equipment were immensely challenging for me. I appreciated that people were patient with me as I tried to learn these new tasks. It reminded me so much of what my students must feel like at times. It is quite possible that each new topic in my classroom brings my students to a new place in their ignorance. It was most impactful for me to recall what that feels like and it will give me pause to be more patient and more empathetic to their productive struggle. Read more about Final Reflections: Iowa STEM Teacher Externship

My STEM Journey

By: Taryn Perry, Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council Youth Advisory Board Member

STEM is all about trying different things, discovering something new, and building off of whatever you are passionate about. This is certainly a journey of change, alterations in direction, but always learning and progressing forward. For me, this has meant, never being too afraid to try something new and different—sometimes it doesn’t work out, other times it is a wonderful new door that has opened.

In middle school, I had an opportunity to take Toying with Technology, which was a robotics course offered by an Iowa State extension. Heavily working with computers and robotics was very new for me, but I decided to go for it. It ended up being a wonderful experience, full of learning and bonding with my classmates. But, it also showed me that my interests lie elsewhere, and robotics is not one of my strong desires to pursue in the future. Despite this, the experience was a great opportunity for me to explore, experiment, and dip my toes into something completely new to me—even though it did not end up being something I desire to continue to pursue.

On the flip side, during high school, I got involved in my school’s academic competitions team. This was a bit outside of my comfort zone and a completely new experience; however, it was well worth it. One of my favorite activities as part of this club was annually competing in Iowa State University’s Science Bowl. I discovered that working with my teammates, studying new science topics throughout the year, and finally putting my knowledge/skills to the test was an incredibly fun and challenging STEM opportunity that I could get excited about. Being a part of the competitions was a perfect way for me to learn about science in a new and motivational way while working and bonding with peers who shared my interests.

Another way I have been able to explore and expand my STEM interests is through the Youth Advisory Board of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council. In this capacity, I can share my love for STEM in a meaningful way. Our council seeks to help students explore their own STEM interests and passions by helping to make STEM resources accessible to them and encouraging them to explore countless opportunities for STEM in today’s world. Being selected for the council has been a wonderful experience for me in more ways than one. Not only do I enjoy being able to share my STEM passions with students, but I also love networking with those that I have the pleasure of working with. Connecting with them, hearing their stories, and learning about their interests in STEM has vastly expanded my horizons and been an incredible joy.

These are just a few examples illustrating my journey with STEM. It has certainly been a path of trying new things, discovering what I enjoy or do not care for, and constantly working towards my passions. This year, I will be staring college at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, majoring in chemical engineering. Again, this is a whole new path—starting something new. I am not certain what challenges I will face, what facets of the field I will find most enthralling, or even where I want to find myself in the next 10 years. However, the important thing is that I am not fearful to try something new, get involved, and see where this amazing STEM journey takes me next. Read more about My STEM Journey

Pre-Apprenticeship Pioneers: Boone EDGE

By: Jill Janes, Director of Innovative Learning at Boone Community School District and Kris Byam, Principal at Boone Community School District

How many of us have looked back at an experience and marveled at how much was learned along the way? Pre-apprenticeship programs recognize the power of experiential learning for high school students. At Boone High School, pre-apprenticeship fulfills two goals: ensuring all students have the skills necessary for success after high school and strengthening connections in our local community.

With the support of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, we developed an Iowa STEM BEST program in 2017, Boone EDGE (Empowering Desire, Guiding Experience), that includes pre-apprenticeship avenues for student learning. Open to all students who have a desire to discover their true talents and passions, the program aims to give students authentic learning experiences with industry partners. EDGE is built on a foundation of core skills needed for success in any future career:

  1. Employability and professionalism
  2. Communication
  3. Collaboration
  4. Flexibility and adaptability
  5. Self-awareness
  6. Cultural and global awareness

To bring these skills to life through pre-apprenticeship, we partnered with ABC of Iowa and a local sponsor business. We built a curriculum that helped students gain the EDGE core skills above, learn specific skills for all construction trades, and explore apprentice occupations. We began by examining our current high school coursework and working with our partners to determine additional needs to address specific topics.

Initially, we were challenged by time and resources. Our teachers’ schedules were already full, and a traditional classroom wouldn’t provide the rich experiences we envisioned. A hybrid-approach to learning became our solution. We developed online modules providing flexibility for students and teachers. We paired each learning module with a hands-on lab at a local job-site with our sponsor business. These high-interest labs keep students excited about learning and help them envision using their new skills in a future career.

As the program took off in 2017-18, students became ambassadors for pre-apprenticeships. As one student explained, many of his friends were taking college courses during high school; the pre-apprenticeship program was the equivalent method for him to begin his planned path as a registered apprentice in plumbing after graduation. It wasn’t long before our initial group of three students grew to five, and additional sponsor businesses reached out to become involved, too.

At the close of the school year, all five of our students secured interviews for registered apprenticeships after graduation. Four students accepted positions with one full year of a four-year apprenticeship program already completed. We recognized this accomplishment with our community during our senior awards celebrations. This public recognition helped spread our message that pre-apprenticeship is a valuable option for future success.

As we prepare for the 2018-19 school year, we are excited to expand our efforts. We’ve created a four-semester program that will allow students to begin their pre-apprenticeship as juniors and gain an additional year of specialized learning with an internship. We also plan to explore additional pre-apprenticeship programs in information technology, engineering and culinary arts with local partners. We are convinced that pre-apprenticeships give our students an EDGE. Read more about Pre-Apprenticeship Pioneers: Boone EDGE

A great example of creating the future workforce and work-based learning

The Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council facilitates and supports hundreds of STEM programs and activities across our state every year, many of which embody the method of work-based learning. Work-based learning connects businesses and education institutions by providing students the opportunity to train in the workplace while completing relevant work in the classroom. Work-based learning is proven to better equip students for the workforce, while exposing them to multiple paths and career options.

STEM is a vital economic development advantage for quality jobs grown in Iowa, starting in the classroom and transforming our future workforce. Work-based learning is setting Iowa apart from other state education programs, as we continue to build awareness through conferences like the recent Governor’s 2018 Future Ready Iowa Summit at the beginning of April. The Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council set up guidelines for what an ideal school and business partnership might look like, enlisting corporate partners to invest in the form of time, talent or treasure.

Accumold Inc. is a perfect example of this STEM partnership that is paving the way for so many other businesses in Iowa. Roger Hargens, CEO of Accumold and co-chair of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, and Grace Swanson, VP of Human Capital at Accumold and Vice Chair of the Future Ready Iowa’s credentialing task force, have set a standard for corporate STEM partnerships with their Accumold Scholarship Program, working closely with Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC).

The Accumold Scholarship Program was developed between Accumold and DMACC in 2006. The college was experiencing a decrease in enrollment and Accumold was having a challenging time finding qualified machinists in Tool and Die to fill vacancies. The Accumold Scholarship Program was created, allowing DMACC students to work part-time at Accumold while attending school in the Tool and Die program and earning credits towards a degree. These scholars are matched with mentors within the company and given the opportunity to “learn from the bottom up” as Grace Swanson describes it.

Since 2006, 56 scholars have started the program and Accumold has seen a 70-percent retention rate in scholars. The scholarship has expanded to include two new programs, Robotics and Control Systems and Electro-Mechanical Technologies. The current 2017-18 class has 10 scholars, which is the largest class to date.

While the Accumold Scholarship Program elevates and supports Iowa students, it also provides a service to Accumold and efficiently funnels the career recruitment process. Internal buy-in was established early on for the implementation of the Scholarship Program. In fact, many of the initial school visits and tours were set up by the employees themselves, reaching out to their neighbors, spouses and family members who are teachers and professors. The employees and mentors at Accumold have a mutual respect and understanding of the value of this program for the future of their company.

The Scholarship Program isn’t the only way that Accumold is reaching students for work-based learning. Accumold participates in career days at elementary schools to demonstrate molding using Play-Doh to plant the seed early for the DMACC Scholarship Program. They also offer an outreach program at a senior citizen community in Ankeny, in an effort to reach their grandchildren and energize multiple generations about the concept of STEM learning. Accumold is heavily involved with the Ankeny Economic Development Group (EDG), advocating for school/business partnerships, and taking in teacher interns both through the Ankeny EDG and the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council Teacher Externship Program. Accumold has Project Lead the Way classes brought into their facility, science fairs across the state, voices on the Future Ready Iowa Taskforce and much more.

Accumold realized a long time ago they would have to build their own workforce and pushed work-based learning efforts full-speed ahead. Accumold is paving the way for many other Iowa businesses and helping to increase student interest in STEM careers and fill our state’s job pipeline. Read more about A great example of creating the future workforce and work-based learning