Growing STEM BEST ® Community Invites New Partners

STEM BEST® Program model Ankeny Orbis spoke with school board members and administrators at the IASB Convention.
STEM BEST® Program model Ankeny Orbis spoke with school board members and administrators about the STEM BEST® Program at the Iowa Association of School Boards Annual Convention.

The STEM BEST® Program continues to demonstrate momentum through growth and impact of the program in school districts across Iowa. Of 63 total STEM BEST® Program awards, there are a total of 58 models involving 83 school districts and more than 5,000 students that formed more than 1,300 workplace partnerships from 2014 to 2019. Additional data is being gathered to determine where past STEM BEST® Program participants are now post high school. Outcomes from this study will be used to drive the future of program.

To take part in this effective, work-based learning model and build a community-based STEM BEST® Program, the initial steps are: 

  • Assemble a team. Identify a team to help create partnerships and identify community needs. All STEM BEST® Program applications must be submitted by an Iowa public or non-public school or school district. Teams should have a project lead engaged with that school or school district. Connecting with a district administrator, curriculum coordinator or an impassioned educator is important. Community representatives such as business and industry, higher education, economic development, non-profits and area school districts sectors will help round the team.
  • Bring Partnerships Together. Reach out to local industries and businesses to develop partnerships where real-world student-led projects can connect students to the community at large. Identify key community leaders and team members who will commit to the development of this plan. Also, connect with existing STEM BEST® Program models to learn what is working in other communities. 
  • Develop Rigorous, Relevant and Dynamic Integrated STEM Curriculum. 21st Century skills are needed in the current and future workforce. The school or school district team should discuss how to develop a curriculum that is innovative and uses collaborative, work-based learning opportunities with partners.
  • Consider Cost-Share Contribution. All STEM BEST® Programs are required to have a 1:1 cost-share contribution. Between the school/school districts and partners, contributions may come in the form of cash contributions or in-kind services.
  • Connect with the Regional STEM Manager. Reach out to the Regional STEM Manager for guidance and feedback to help bring the STEM BEST® Program to the community.   

The STEM BEST® Program application will be open February 10 through May 15, 2020, for implementation during the 2020-2021 academic year. Learn more about the STEM BEST® Program and how to apply at

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