April always comes with a fresh start—budding leaves, blooming flowers and for Iowa STEM, a new garden of programs ready to grow across Iowa for youth through the Iowa STEM Scale-Up Program.
Around this time of year, the regional STEM managers and their regional STEM advisory boards sift through hundreds of applications from thousands of educators (approximately 3,400), evaluate them and select communities, schools, organizations and, ultimately, their students to receive a STEM Scale-Up Program award from the programs available on the 2017-18 menu.
The awarding of exemplary STEM curriculum, kits and lesson plans to thousands of educators who will transform their classrooms, afterschool programs, daycares and more for tens of thousands of students is no easy decision. A great deal of time and effort are invested in these decisions, relying on heat maps and historical evidence of previous recipients, strong mission-alignment in applicant essays, sustainability plans and other supportive data points. Regional boards are excellent shepherds of this crucial $3 million in state-appropriated support funds to be distributed statewide, especially in the communities needing it most (targeting underrepresented student populations and schools with high free lunch rates).
Although applicant demand for these STEM programs eclipsed available funds at $4.7 million, nearly 2,000 educators received their program of choice and will experience immersive professional development workshops this summer to introduce the programs to their students in the fall.
All the while, the evaluation triad of Iowa’s three Regents universities’ research organizations gear up to harvest the effect and results from the current year’s STEM Scale-Up Program participants for 2016-17. Roughly 400,000 Iowa students have participated in the STEM Scale-Up Program since 2012—all of whom trend in scoring higher on the Iowa Assessments in mathematics, science and reading while also showing a stronger interest in STEM careers in Iowa compared to their peers who did not participate in the STEM Scale-Up Program. And, these programs live on with approximately three-fourths of past STEM Scale-Up Program educators sustaining the programs beyond STEM Council seed funding.
For a complete list of those schools and organizations equipped to inspire Iowa’s generation of STEM-savvy, young professionals in 2017-18, visit this link.