2018 STEM BEST® Program Partners

STEM BEST (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) focuses on teachers and industry professionals working side-by-side to craft curriculum and projects that prepare students for exciting STEM careers local to their community in manufacturing, information technology, bioscience (agriculture and medicine), finance, and more.

The STEM Council Executive Committee voted unanimously in October 2018 to award 13 competitively-selected school partnerships. The 2018 STEM BEST Program partners are:

Allamakee Community School District in the Northeast STEM Region

Waukon High School (WHS) will be implementing an Allamakee Regional Welding Academy to serve the Allamakee County and surrounding area beginning fall 2019. This will be a partnership with Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), WHS and Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) with a goal of creating a pipeline of talent to fill current and future welding vacancies within the region.

Contact: Caleb Ferring at cferring@allamakee.k12.ia.us

Belle Plaine Community School District in the Southeast STEM Region

The Belle Plaine Community School District will utilize a comprehensive (non-profit) manufacturing/production or “makerspace” facility within their new STEM Lab where all students will have the opportunity to create tangible projects and artifacts via the technology. The formation of “BP - R.O.C.K.S.” (Recognizing Opportunity from Commercial Knowledge and Skills) program will provide an enhanced and more in-depth after-school activity focused primarily upon district and local business and industry needs within the regional community. There will be direct contact, training and education with local businesses, community partners and supporting post-secondary institutions.

Contact: Frank Jowitt at fjowitt@belle-plaine.k12.ia.us

CAM Community School District in the Southwest STEM Region

The “curriculum” will include learning experiences based on 21st Century skills and mastery of Core Standards. Teachers will guide project completion, provide meaningful feedback and help students use their strengths to find success. Students will have several worked-based courses for students to choose from, both in core areas and in CTE pathways. There will be an emphasis in teaching and practicing some of the “soft skills” that employers so often say that students are lacking.

Contact: Shelly Miller at smiller@cam.k12.ia.us

Cedar Falls Community School District in the Northeast STEM Region

The key strategy for the Cedar Falls CAPS Program is to take students out of the traditional classroom setting and provide real world work experiences. Students select a strand related to a career field they are interested in and are then immersed in a professional setting. They meet at a location off regular school grounds and work on projects connected to their field of interest. Students are provided training in professional skills to help them acclimate to the world of work. As needed, students are connected with mentors from local businesses who provide training in skills needed to complete the projects.

Contact: Kenton Swartley at Kenton.swartley@cfschools.org

Central Community School District in the Northeast STEM Region

The goal of its Clayton County BEST Program will be to offer unique learning opportunities that connect individual students to authentic workplace experiences and provide a strong focus on career and college readiness as a key outcome. Students will be paired with community organizations and businesses to address real-life concerns using 21st century skills and knowledge.

Contact: Ann Gritzner at agritzner@central.k12.ia.us

Des Moines Independent Community School District in the South Central STEM Region

The goal of the program is to develop a strategic approach to increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in the neurosciences by providing research and internship opportunities and improving college and career readiness of students. Through a partnership with Des Moines University (DMU) and Kemin Industries, students will collaboratively build a business model aimed at enhancing anatomy instruction through the development and sale of 3D printed models of the mammalian brain.

Contact: Kacia Cain at kacia.cain@dmschools.org

Keokuk Community School District in the Southeast STEM Region

The Keokuk Community School District will create an active learning center to include learning hubs, flexible seating and technology. This will provide a sophisticated space for students to interact with professionals to develop soft skills, job awareness and community partnerships.

Contact: Heidi Harness at Heidi.harness@keokukschools.org

No Boundaries and Iowa Middles in the Northwest STEM Region

A consortium of schools, including the Okoboji, Graettinger-Terril, and Ruthven-Ayrshire Community School Districts, are embarking on a shared program called the No Boundaries Project. In addition, a middle school pilot of the No Boundaries Project, called Iowa Middles, will start in January with 8th graders at Okoboji Middle School. The vision of this project is to provide real-world and relevant opportunities that don’t exist in the traditional school setting and to expand this model to students across the region.

Contact: Ryan Cunningham at rcunningham@okobojischools.org

Ottumwa Community School District in the South Central STEM Region

Ottumwa Community School District will expand their SparkTank program, which provides an off-campus, hands-on learning to link instruction with authentic work experiences through partnerships with local employers. The district will add two additional strands, STEM summer camp experiences for middle and high school students and professional development for teachers to incorporate more career exploration opportunities.

Contact: Kim Hellige at kim.hellige@ottumwaschools.com

Sioux City Community School District in the Northwest STEM Region

Sioux City Community School District will expand the GeoPhysics (Geometry + Physics) STEM curriculum implemented during the 2017-2018 school year to establish authentic partnerships with three new business partners. Community partnerships will integrate real-world questions for students to practice problem-solving utilizing 21st century skills of collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking.

Contact: Shelly Nash at nashs@live.siouxcityschools.com

St. Mary School (Humboldt) in the North Central STEM Region

This project’s aim is to 1) prepare students in grades 1-6 with the foundational interests, skills, and competencies for matriculation to middle school STEM coursework; 2) develop a STEM Learning Intermediary Network that will facilitate students and teachers networking with local industrial scientists skilled technicians in various learning environments; and, 3) coordinate technician-in-residency opportunities for educators to learn about local STEM careers and jobs to better guide students in their STEM studies.

Contact: Diane Dix at ddix@stmaryhumboldt.org

St. Theresa School (Des Moines) in the South Central STEM Region

Students will be paired with businesses to bring the real world of STEM into students’ hands. By partnering with local businesses, students will learn from industry professionals, implement that learning in projects and present that learning in meaningful and professional ways to our partners. With the help of business partners, students will have the experience and confidence to explore STEM courses in high school and eventually become STEM professionals.

Contact: Ronda McCarthy at rmccarthy@sainttheresaiowa.org

Woodbine Community School District in the Southwest STEM Region

Woodbine Community School District will expand upon their current award-winning Construction Trades Program to create MakerSpace learning links for grades 3-8, create a robust series of business engagement experiences and launch a digital activities calendar to keep businesses and the local community connected.

Contact: Shawna Harris at sharris@woodbine.k12.ia.us