2020 STEM Spotlight

Sam Edster-Mitchell, a biology teacher at Norwalk High School, was a 2020 teacher extern at Kemin Industries.
Sam Edster-Mitchell, a biology teacher at Norwalk High School, was a 2020 teacher extern at Kemin Industries. The STEM Teacher Externship Program looked a little different this year, as did many of the STEM Council programming and events.
2020 has been an unforgettable year. While it played out differently than anyone may have expected, STEM principles were spotlighted in many ways during this pandemic year. From medical professionals addressing mitigation efforts to statisticians analyzing patterns, the impact of STEM education in our everyday lives was even more apparent.
A basic principle of STEM learning is to define the goals and develop a course of action when faced with a challenge. In the early weeks of the pandemic and as those weeks turned into months, the STEM Council’s operations team swiftly adapted plans for programs and events in the midst of the social distancing, safety precautions, Zoom meetings and even quarantine situations. Despite the hurdles throughout the year, Iowa’s STEM Council was well-represented delivering outstanding programming.
A record-breaking number of 109 outstanding proposals were submitted from program providers seeking to scale their programs to Iowa educators through the STEM Scale-Up Program. A fresh, innovative and world-class menu of 12 programs was approved by the STEM Council Executive Committee. The Scale-Up Program menu will debut in early January 2021.
Twelve STEM BEST (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) Programs were awarded for a total of 75 STEM BEST Programs awards since 2014.
Despite the pandemic, the STEM Teacher Externship Program was able to safely support nearly two-thirds capacity with 48 Iowa teachers in summer workplace placements.
Iowa STEM Teacher Awards nominations were up this year with more than 130 completed nominations. Six awardees will be announced in February 2021.
Regional STEM Festivals have been reformatted to provide the educational learning opportunities that spark interest in STEM, now in virtual formats.
A sold-out professional development workshop was held on fostering equity in the STEM classroom with a focus on prioritizing equity, diversity and inclusion.
The Teachable Moment webpage was launched to provide easily accessible STEM lessons and activities for a variety of schooling scenarios.
Two seasons of the STEM Essential podcast were made available featuring leading advocates and voices discussing the impact of STEM education and what it means for the future of Iowa’s students.
Regular Twitter chats are being held to connect STEM educators and communities for sharing ideas and resources that strengthen STEM learning experiences for all Iowans.
Monthly blog posts share perspectives and experiences of STEM leaders and partners on relevant and timely topics.
Virtual STEM activities and demonstrations were shared by Iowa STEM Teacher Awardees and partners of the STEM Council as part of STEM Day at the Iowa State Fair.
Six new STEM PSAs were launched along with many other inspiring and educational efforts.
And, there is so much more to look forward to in 2021. This year taught us that STEM can help us handle any challenge we may face in the new year.
To learn more about the opportunities available through the STEM Council, visit IowaSTEM.gov.
To Top