They came from all four corners of the state, representing elementary, middle and high school as well as college and out-of-school learning. All shared a common curiosity: how to amplify STEM in their classrooms and communities. An intrepid flock of edu-innovators made up the inaugural class of what may become an annual STEM Professional Development Palooza offered by the Governor's STEM Advisory Council. The impetus for the workshop is the heightening focus on driving school + business partnerships through STEM Council programs, especially STEM BEST®. A key criteria of winning STEM BEST proposals (open now through September 15) is collaborative work-based learning that bridges classroom and workplaces. To support connections between educators and employers, a series of high-caliber professional development (P.D.) models were identified over the course of 2016-17 and paraded through the cavernous collaboratory, the Waukee Innovative Learning Center, where participants sampled eleven outstanding P.D. options, including Dimensions of Success, Mathematical Modeling, STEM Innovator, Teaching for the Workforce, the NGSS, Iowa AEA Learning Online and STEM Teacher Externships, among others. Interspersed were riveting keynote speakers, team-building debriefs and delectable dinner presentations.
Upon completion of the one-week immersion, participants were charged with developing Implementation Plans that detail how STEM will more strongly manifest in their classrooms and communities as a result. Partnerships with the University of Northern Iowa's mathematics education, science education and technology education programs enable graduate credits for completers. Heartland Area Education Agency also partnered in awarding license renewal credits to successful participants. In addition, these cuttingedge educators qualify for the TeSTEMent of Competency credential in recognition of their unique status as STEM leaders.
The project was evaluated by the University of Iowa's Center for Evaluation and Assessment, whose report will be delivered to STEM Council leaders for considering the continuation and expansion of this catalytic brand of professional development for K-12 and collegiate STEM educators. Direct any questions about this program to executive director Jeff Weld at Weld@IowaSTEM.gov.