The STEM Council is focused on growing a STEM-talented workforce that stays in Iowa. To do that, the STEM BEST (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) models awarded in 2014 have started a trend in Iowa to bring local business and schools together and introduce students to STEM opportunities in their hometowns, counties and regions.
A prime example is in Goose Lake, Iowa, at the Northeast Community School District. The district redesigned a traditional classroom that has attracted dozens of middle-to-high school students who participate in local industry-driven curriculum.
According to the district’s 6-12 Principal Alicia Christiansen, several educators spent a day last summer at LyondellBasell in Clinton, one of the largest chemical plants in Iowa that helps produce the materials needed to create leak-proof products and packaging that protects food from spoiling.
“The conversation and work that day has driven many of the projects that are being implemented in the STEM program,” she said. “In the future, we may look to create internship and externship opportunities for students and staff that will take place at the job sites. We also hope to teleconference more consistently with LyondellBasell to receive more frequent feedback on projects.”
In six months, the program has grown from one course and 60 students to four courses and 150 students with nearly equal participation from male and female students. Courses range from forensics to airplane design and building roller coasters to designing a car with a limited budget and supplies.
To learn how the other STEM BEST models are inspiring students across Iowa, visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/STEMBEST.