The close of the school year marked another STEM-tastic year of businesses engaging students and teachers. Thirteen new STEM BEST Programs were awarded to school districts across Iowa in 2018-2019. A total of 18 different school districts were recipients or created partnerships with neighboring districts to create their STEM BEST model. In this past year 164 new partnerships were created to bring the total of business-school partnerships to 1,354. Examples of these partnerships include: Allamakee Community School District partnering with Benjegerdes Machine, Mike Ferring Construction, KolGol, Northeast Iowa Community College and Trinity Fabricators; Keokuk Community School District partnering with Roquette America and Freeport McMoran; and Central Community School District partnering with Des Moines University and Kemin.
Some of the models focused their efforts on facilitating work-based learning experiences for a specific age group while others provided for a cross-section of students. Five of the thirteen STEM BEST Programs integrated experiences into their model for elementary students, four for middle school/junior high and 10 for high school students.
While this time is spent on program planning and facilitating partnerships, the STEM BEST partners still manage to facilitate true work-based learning experiences for their students. Of the most recent thirteen STEM BEST Programs, 1,843 students participated or were impacted by taking on a community project, business partner meetings and pitches or recruitment of peers.
Partnerships are key to the success of the STEM BEST Program. Creating and developing those school-business partnerships to expand learning happening beyond the classroom creates new opportunities for students and industry alike.
Many of these programs share how the program has impacted their communities in a powerful way. Bringing the business and school districts together creates opportunities for students to explore and build upon soft skills that are needed whether students are entering college or a workplace environment.
Plans are in place to continue growing STEM BEST partners throughout Iowa. We are now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 school year. An informational webinar will be held on August 20 at 3:30 p.m. For more detailed information, visit https://iowastem.gov/STEMBEST/application.