Forging Connections and Opportunities through BEST STEMposium

The BEST STEMposium offered a collaborative professional development experience for STEM BEST Programs.
STEM BEST Programs participated in the BEST STEMposium, a collaborative professional development experience geared towards enhancing career-linked learning in Iowa schools.

More than 70 educators, administrators and business partners of STEM BEST Programs across the state attended the first-ever BEST STEMposium, held at the University of Northern Iowa. The event fostered meaningful conversations with STEM BEST Program leaders to enhance career-linked learning in communities across Iowa.

BEST STEMposium attendees had the opportunity to connect with potential resources to support and grow their programs and to meet with other models during a gallery walk where they learned about best practices in engaging students. “Mashup” sessions fostered discussions with other STEM BEST Program models based on region, size of the school and by roles within the schools. Challenge mapping guided attendees to have solution-focused conversations and identify potential customized solutions and systemic changes to overcome shared challenges for further growth and sustainability.

Aaron Broshar, owner of Blue Barn BBQ, was featured as the event keynote speaker. He serves as a culinary mentor at the Waterloo Career Center, a STEM BEST Program model. Of his mentorship role, Broshar said, “I hope to help create avenues that students can directly connect with careers in a controlled environment and continue to pursue that which they are passionate about in Iowa. These students have an opportunity to do that very thing.”

Of the BEST STEMposium professional development experience, attendees overwhelmingly agreed that the event achieved the goal of networking and sent them home with ideas for growth and improvement in their STEM BEST Program.

“Creating opportunities for this network of impassioned innovators to intentionally connect with each other is why we developed the BEST STEMposium,” said Tanya Hunt, Project Coordinator for the STEM BEST Program. “Our hope is that the connections forged will lead to future partnerships and collaborations with the intent of growing opportunities for Iowa’s teachers and students.”

To learn more about the STEM BEST Program and the supports in place for these models, visit

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