Outstanding STEM Educators Recognized with Inaugural Award

Teacher Kacia Cain, recieves South Central STEM regions Education award for Inspired Teaching
South Central STEM Manager Sarah Derry recognizes her region’s STEM Education Award for Inspired Teaching recipient Kacia Cain, biotechnology teacher at Des Moines Central Campus, earlier this week.

Iowa’s STEM Advisory Council partnered this year with Kemin Industries to seek out and recognized six of the best STEM teachers in Iowa. It was a monumental task, given all of the superior educators across our state. The highly-competitive award brought in more than 150 applications from across the state. A panel of judges had the difficult task of selecting just one teacher from each Iowa STEM region, who demonstrated an unparalleled dedication of inspiring students to explore the world of STEM in Iowa. The 2015 recipients are:

  • Northwest STEM Region: Mike Wedge, science teacher and STEM coordinator at Sibley-Ocheyedan High School, has participated in the STEM Council’s Teacher Externship program and has created STEM-focused curriculum and STEM camps.
  • North Central STEM Region: Shelly Vanyo, science teacher and department head at Boone High School, formed local business partnerships to advance STEM in her school, and develops unique learning experiences for her students.
  • Northeast STEM Region: Lisa Chizek, fifth- and sixth-grade teacher and STEM coordinator at North Tama Elementary School, has created a STEM Expert Day where she brings in professionals from various STEM fields to educate her students on their jobs and how STEM is a part of it.
  • Southwest STEM Region: Allison Gregg, second-grade teacher at Sidney Elementary School, utilizes her resources to connect with a NASA educator by Skype to help her students learn about the solar system and the Mars Rover.
  • South Central STEM Region: Kacia Cain, biotechnology teacher at Des Moines Central Campus, partners with STEM industry businesses, including Kemin Industries and DuPont Pioneer, to teach her students about bioethics of GMO’s and other timely topics.
  • Southeast STEM Region: Jason Franzenburg, technology educator at Davenport West High School, created a new curriculum in partnership with the Scott County Waste Commission that includes guest speakers, hands-on projects and field trips to learn about the lifecycle of consumer products and how to make them better.

After being nominated for the award, each teacher completed an application demonstrating their dedication to STEM education. All six teachers earned $1,500 for personal use and another $1,500 for their classroom.

Sign up by March 15 for the 2015 Statewide STEM Summit on March 30 to see the formal award ceremony and special panel session featuring the awardees and their take on the best practices for STEM in the classroom.  Congratulations to our inaugural Kemin STEM Excellence Award winners and may you inspire all of us to strive for the best STEM education for young Iowans.

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