A robust statewide STEM effort requires the support of all Iowans from parents, students and educators to city leaders, higher education experts and business and industry professionals. Creating an avenue for this wide array of audiences to intersect and collaborate on STEM is one mission of the STEM Council.
Facilitated by the STEM Council’s six regional STEM managers, such community partnerships percolate through dozens of family STEM festivals throughout the STEM regions. The original charge from the STEM Council was to host at least one free festival in each STEM region per year, rotating it from one community to the next in the following years. This, however, has erupted into a larger demand throughout the STEM regions as evidenced by the nearly 30 festivals across Iowa last year that attracted more than 16,000 people.
Take, for example, the Linn County STEM Festival in Hiawatha, Iowa, in late February. Almost 900 people visited the event from nearly 40 different ZIP codes, drawing in equal participation from both females and males with more than 60 percent as K-12 students. And, with the help of 51 exhibiting partners from higher education, business and industry, non-profit, K-12 schools and more, hundreds of families now have a stronger sense for the importance of STEM, along with newly-forged alliances with the organizations in their backyards that offer local pathways to STEM.