As the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council celebrates 10 years of developing world-class programming, fostering partnerships and pioneering the integration of STEM into learning opportunities in the state of Iowa and beyond, we are more focused than ever on the future-vision of STEM.
In 2013, we established the identity ‘Greatness STEMs from Iowa’ which has proven to be true. Nearly every school district in Iowa has participated in at least one Iowa STEM Council Program equating to thousands of educators and more than 100,000 Iowa students taking part each year. Students exposed to STEM programming perform better on standardized math and science tests as reported in our annual evaluation research and express more interest in STEM jobs here in Iowa after graduation. These successes have encouraged dozens of states to replicate Iowa’s model and implement similar initiatives.
We are now transitioning our brand identity to ‘Tomorrow STEMS from Iowa,’ resembling the bright future of STEM education for individuals and communities across Iowa. Our own future as a STEM Council focuses on enhancing the development, delivery and impact of STEM education resources so all Iowans have the opportunity to make tomorrow brighter. While we will continue to expand on the work in progress, our focus remains on several priorities.
Business and education partnerships: There are currently more than 11,000 open STEM jobs in Iowa. Fostering the connection between community businesses and schools is essential to expose educators and students to work-based learning—ultimately filling the workforce pipeline. A total of 65 STEM BEST models have been established in Iowa since 2014 with 77% of all models serving rural Iowa school districts. Increasing participation in work-based learning through programs like STEM BEST is key to future of STEM.
STEM for all: Accessible programming and STEM opportunities for all students has been a cornerstone of Iowa STEM’s mission the past 10 years and will continue to be a top priority looking ahead. The number of minority students enrolled in STEM-subject areas has increased between 3 and 6 percentage points across science, technology, engineering and mathematics within the last year alone. In 2020, STEM academic credentials from Iowa’s community colleges increased 31% among minority graduates compared to 2013.
Scaling up programming in classrooms: Interest in STEM careers begins early on in the classroom when young students explore with robots, build structures to understand engineering and even utilize mathematics concepts to code and design video games. The Iowa STEM Scale-Up Program provides these high-quality programs to PreK-12 students in and out of the classroom, establishing an initial passion for STEM disciplines among youth, increasing statewide test scores and encouraging curiosity to discover future STEM careers.
We will continue building on these successes and providing opportunities that inspire Iowa’s young people to become innovative, enterprising contributors to our future workforce and the quality of life in our communities. Tomorrow STEMs from Iowa.