University of Iowa Engineers Receive Grant to Develop Nuclear/Radioactive Threat Detection Network

A team of researchers in the University of Iowa College of Engineering has received a three-year, $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop an improved nuclear and radioactive threat detection network for the United States.

Although the United States currently has nuclear and radioactive detection systems in place, the systems mainly focus on seaports, airports, and other mass transport centers. Er-Wei Bai, project principal investigator and professor of electrical and computer engineering, notes that the systems need improvement.

“There is a growing recognition of the inadequacy of current capabilities with respect to threat detection and localization in a large area, for example, in the downtown area of a metropolitan city. There already exists a number of ways to detect radioactive material in an isolated area, such as a seaport,” Bai says.

“What is needed is not only an isolated detector but a system integrating threat detection and localization in a large area so that the public and law enforcement officials can respond according to the situation," he adds.

Formally titled, "CPS: Synergy: A Hybrid Detector Network for Nuclear and Radioactive Threat Detection," the project consists of several detection systems rolled into one.

The grant allows the researchers to develop an integrated cyber-physical system by using inexpensive wireless sensors together with more expensive mobile sensors. The sensors will be located so as to eliminate local minima that can compromise results, keep the information exchange to manageable levels, attain fast distributed localization, achieve robust decision-making even in the presence of disrupted communication and large uncertainty, and assist in the sensors’ autonomous self-organization.

Bai’s UI co-principal investigators on the project are Soura Dasgupta and Raghuraman Mudumbai. The project is being conducted in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory, located just outside of Chicago and managed by the University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Bai, who joined the UI faculty in 1987 and is a recipient of the President's Award for Teaching Excellence and the Board of Regents Award for Faculty Excellence, is an expert in the fields of identification, control, and signal processing, and their applications in engineering and life science. Bai also holds the title of World Class Research Professor at the Queen’s University, Belfast, United Kingdom. Both Bai and Dasgupta are Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

source: http://iowacity.patch.com/articles/university-of-iowa-engineers-receive-grant-to-develop-nuclear-radioactive-detection-network

Female enrollment in STEM fields rises

The number of women seeking degrees in science and related fields at Iowa’s three public universities is on the rise, Iowa Board of Regents data show.

This fall, 11,388 women, or one in three female students, enrolled in science, technology, engineering and math majors at University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa. That’s a 13 percent increase from three years ago; total female enrollment during that time grew 2 percent.

University officials credit the burgeoning interest in STEM studies to outreach efforts directed at girls well before they reach high school, as well as a statewide and national emphasis on those disciplines.

Today there are more college students like Alyssa Miller, an ISU senior in physics, visiting K-12 classrooms around the state. She dropped by Harding Middle School in Des Moines last week, where she helped groups of students in competition to build sturdy structures out of wooden sticks, plastic straws and paper.

Sparking an early interest in children is important, because research suggests older role models can help students as early as fourth grade develop an interest in science, university officials said.

“It’s one of their first exposures to the sciences, and that’s what’s really exciting about this; we’re able to give them that first experience,” Miller said.

At ISU, college students last year talked to 9,300 children in classrooms around the state about science careers, a 57 percent increase from the previous year, according to Women in Sciences and Engineering program figures. The jump came, in large part, because of greater awareness created by Gov. Terry Branstad’s high-profile push to expand STEM education in Iowa, officials said.

This could have a far-reaching effect: Expanding outreach now should result in higher numbers of women in STEM majors over the next decade, officials said.

“It’s a pipeline issue,” said U of I Provost Barry Butler, explaining the recent growth. “What we’re seeing is programs that were focused on third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, those students are starting to show up (in college).”

Science and engineering departments around the country have come a long way in recruiting more women over the past four decades.

Since 2010, women at Iowa’s universities have accounted for about 40 percent of all STEM majors, slightly above the national average.

ISU women in 1967 accounted for less than 2 percent of enrollment in what was then called the College of Agriculture, said dean Wendy Wintersteen. Today, 47 percent of students are women.

Greater interest can be achieved through better marketing, Wintersteen said. A name change five years ago to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences was part of a broader effort to increase enrollment at the college, which this year achieved record enrollment.

The new name helped persuade students who may have otherwise dismissed the agriculture school as only for aspiring farmers to give the college a closer look, Wintersteen said. Women account for more than half of those enrolled in the Department of Animal Science, the college’s largest with more than 900 students.

“Part of that is the draw of veterinary medicine, the human-animal interaction that so many of us enjoy in our lives,” Wintersteen said.

As universities push for gender equality in STEM enrollment, officials do so by acknowledging women often have different motivations than men for choosing a career, said Karen Zunkel, director of the ISU Women in Science and Engineering program.

ISU’s College of Engineering has struggled for the past five years to push female enrollment past 15 percent, enrollment data show.

The number is above 20 percent at U of I, in large part because the university specializes in biomedical engineering, Zunkel said.

The difference? Studies show women prefer a STEM field in which they believe their degree can benefit people, by perhaps eradicating disease or combating water pollution, Zunkel said. In scholarship essays, she said a man is more likely to mention gaining a good job as motivation; a woman will more often emphasize fighting cancer.

“Women have this more aspirational reason for pursuing their STEM careers,” Zunkel said. “It’s not that they want a great job with great pay; it’s that they want to make a difference in the world.”



source: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20121107/NEWS02/311070092/1004/Female-enrollment-STEM-fields-rises

Gov. Branstad launches STEM advisory council

Gone are the days of reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. The standards for a good education no longer are the three R's, but STEM.


Gov. Terry Branstad launched an advisory council through executive order last year to focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, to prepare students for careers of the future and give businesses the skilled workforce they need.


Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen, co-chairmen of the governor's advisory council, continued a conversation in Burlington about ways to incorporate STEM into students' learning.


They received suggestions from a crowd at the Greater Burlington Partnership office, both addressing priorities outlined by the council and concerns about dwindling school time for career and technical education.


Melanie Carlson of Fairfield offered insight into STEM education, as both an engineer at French Reneker Associates and a mother. She said her 3-year-old son has the advantages of getting an education on the importance of science from his mother, but relies on Iowa Public Television to learn some words in Spanish.


"My recommendation to meet that goal is bring back 'The Magic School Bus,' or something like that, revamp 'Bill Nye the Science Guy,' " Carlson said. "I know a lot of these programs are focused on the upper level, and we need to focus on that, but anything you can provide parents with an opportunity to teach the kids that are very young that science is cool, that it is not all about education.


"Iowa public programming is wonderful. I love it. It's a lifesaver for a young mom."


Reynolds thanked her for the suggestion and added them to her list.


During the hourlong meeting, which was attended by about 75 educators, business people and parents, Reynolds also wrote down recommendations to visit schools noted for STEM education, to provide paid internships allowing older students hands-on learning opportunities and to prevent the loss of career and technical education teachers.


Laura Hubbard, human resources manager at Case New Holland, spelled out her concerns.


"The issue I see is that I think the teachers would welcome it, but the teachers think I don't have time because 'I've got to get the core in, we've got to prepare for the test, and this, this and this,' " Hubbard said. "So, everything is concentrating on testing and the core, and again like in my environment, I need technical, I need workers on the floor, I need welders, you know.


"Instead of reading a book about literature, I'd rather have them teach technical writing or be able to read technical. We're emphasizing literature and English comp versus the technical sides."


Jane Evans, Burlington School District superintendent, said after the meeting she has heard the concerns about the core curriculum taking up too much time. She agreed it could be a disservice to students who could benefit from being exposed to the opportunities awaiting them at local factories.


Reynolds said manufacturing is different than it used to be, and the manufacturing jobs of the future likely will require some education beyond high school, though not necessarily a four-year degree.


Evans said she was glad to learn there could be more grant opportunities in STEM education for Project Lead the Way, which the district has invested in.


Duane Sherwood, a Fort Madison School Board member, said he hoped the focus would not be exclusively on the jobs available to students who complete a four-year college degree.


Allen assured him the advisory council includes community college representatives, who make certain the focus is not only on four-year degrees. He also said the focus is also the reverse of what it has been, which is focusing on how to apply what students learn to a particular career.


After the meeting, Sherwood said he attended the forum because of his interest in "giving kids the opportunity they need."


Reynolds said the advisory council and its efforts received $4.7 million during the past session. She said the council will ask for legislative funds in the future, but it would provide figures about the progress made and the private investment the public funds helped spur.


The council has offered grants, aiming to get most of the funding to the schools and spread STEM education efforts across the state. Its nearly 40 committee members are comprised of business people, educators, school administration members and state officials.


The six goals are to promote STEM-focused schools, carry out a public awareness campaign, create a related teaching certificate, build a comprehensive online resource to serve STEM educators, focus on outcomes and certifiable skills for STEM graduates, and forge public-private partnerships to share responsibilities.



source: http://www.thehawkeye.com/story/Reynolds-100912

White Center’s new community and learning center opens, will bring tech education to the kids of North Highline and beyond

It was 2005. Ron Sims was the King County Executive, Dow Constantine was a member of the county council, and a new business directive had been sent out to the parks department: try to find figure out partnerships to help build park facilities with less public money.

Jessie Israel, a King Couty Parks employee at the time (she now works in the wastewater treatment division), registered the idea and went about her day. She picked up a newspaper and read a story about the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) and their Executive Director Trish Millines Dziko’s mission of preparing Puget Sound youth – particularly low-income youth of color – for success in college through science, technology, math and engineering programs.

It clicked. Israel suggested a partnership with TAF, Millines Dziko (referred to as Dziko from here on out) was on board, Lakewood Park in White Center became their target and a plan was hatched to build a community center used by TAF for their programs and available to the community-at-large. King County would donate $2 million to the cause and Trish would be responsible for raising the additional $12 million needed to make it a reality. King County would (and will) lease the land to TAF for $1 a year for the next 50 years.

 “From the public perspective we get a fully operated, built, gorgeous community center on our park for the next 50 years (for a $2 million investment),” Israel said.

Lakewood Park was chosen because, as Israel put it, it was beset with vandalism and drug use. “I knew (Dziko) was doing great things and I knew we wanted a steward in this park and we had a pot of money we were trying to leverage …” Couple that with the county’s goal of providing more computer and technology learning access to the children of North Highline, and the King County Council moved forward in fulfilling their part of the bargain.

On Oct. 25, 2012, that seven year journey came to fruition as TAF celebrated their official grand opening of the Bethaday Community Learning Space to the public. Through tough economic conditions, TAF was able to raise the necessary funds to complete the project through a mixture of public, private and corporate contributions and grants.

Before the speeches began and the ribbon was cut, the building was truly alive: tours were bustling up and down the stairs as wide eyes of all ages inspected the state-of-the-art, 24,000 square-foot facility with academic rooms and community meeting rooms, a robotics lab, and a "multipurpose" room with garage-style doors that open up into Lakewood Park. The feel-good music of James Brown filled every square foot and plentiful cake and coffee ensured the energy levels for all stayed high.

King County Executive Dow Constantine was first to speak.

“The Bethaday Community Learning Space is so much more than a building,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us. First of all, we’ll start with the entry and magnificent bridge fashioned from ancient King County timbers … it is a physical bridge, but it is also a bridge from current state to a brighter future that exists starting here with TAF.”

The bridge, along with several walls and desks in the facility were built from salvaged lumber when the Park Lake Homes (later called Greenbridge) housing project was torn down directly to the east.

“For many young people of color in particular, this bridge represents opportunity to move forward in life,” Constantine continued. “King County is becoming increasingly diverse … and that is the good news. The bad news, we learned (in the most recent King County Equity Report), is that we continue to have struggles with inequities in society with inequities born of race or family income or zip code holding people back from being able to achieve their full potential. Well, that is exactly what this vision, and now this reality, is about, is opening the door so this dynamic economy based on science, technology and math is not merely about creating great prosperity, but about creating broad prosperity that is accessible to everyone.

“This is a place where young people are going to be able to learn valuable skills in science, technology, and engineering and math and it really matches up with our county commitment to equity and social justice.”

TAF Executive Director Dziko took the microphone next.

“This has been a labor of love,” she said. “This building is not just a building, it is not just a home for TAF, it is a community building. Seventy-five percent of this building is useable by the community and what we want to do is make sure that other non-profits or other organizations that want to bring education – any kind of education into this community – can do so.”

Dziko thanked a long list of people for their help in bringing Bethaday into reality including her family, Jessie Israel, King County’s elected officials and parks department, the architects, TAF’s board of directors, TAF staff and a long list of those who made monetary donations, including Ken Birdwell from Valve Software, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Microsoft.

She saved the most heartfelt thank you for last.

“And there is one guy … one very, very special guy: Dick Thurnau,” Dziko said of the 87-year-old White Center resident who had made it his passion to protect Lakewood Park and Hicklin Lake. “We have a special, special, special place in our hearts because from day one you saw the vision that we saw and you got out there and not only did you fight to clean up Hicks Lake (now Hicklin) … you also led (Friends of Hicklin Lake) to support us.

“And every time Dick came to our office, he came with a $500 dollar check and I said, ‘He is going to build this building $500 at a time.’”

The crowd, pushing 100 people, laughed at the notion as Thurnau cracked a big smile.

“We wanted to build this building so you could see it,” Dziko said to the park’s protector. “I want you to come to this building anytime you want because this is as much your building as it is ours.”

As Dziko walked over to give Thurnau a hug he reached into his pocket and pulled out, you guessed it, another $500 check and handed it to her. The crowd erupted and Dziko shook her head in disbelief.

“You got me,” she said, tears coming to her eyes.

“I want to thank all of you, I want to thank all of you for being here, for supporting us through the years, for working with us, for being on or team, for supporting our kids and seeing how they have grown into these amazing human beings … I don’t know what else to say, but let’s just cut the ribbon.”

And with that the crowd migrated outside to the bridge that Greenbridge built where current TAF students were given the honor of cutting the ribbon, officially welcoming the people of North Highline and White Center inside.

For more on TAF and the Bethaday Space, please check out prior coverage or TAF's website.

The building is located at 605 S.W. 108th St.



source: http://www.highlinetimes.com/2012/10/26/news/seven-years-making-white-center’s-new-community-a

EACSD receives Project Lead The Way certification for STEM Education Program

Kee High School in Lansing recently announced that it has received national certification for its Project Lead The Way (PLTW) program that has been offered  since 2010. PLTW, a non-profit organization and the nation’s leading provider of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education programs, offers a rigorous world-class curriculum that allows students to apply what they are learning in math and science class to real-life engineering and technology projects.


PLTW also prides itself on high-quality professional development of its teachers and an engaged network of business, community and university partners to give students the fullest experience.


The national PLTW recognition program distinguishes schools for successfully demonstrating a commitment to PLTW’s national standards. Additionally, certification as a PLTW school provides students with the opportunity to apply for college credit or receive college-level recognition at PLTW affiliate universities when they successfully complete select PLTW courses in high school. PLTW has more than 40 affiliate colleges and university partners, including the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.


Mary Hogan, principal of Kee High School said, “We have seen how the PLTW program draws more students to engineering and technology courses and gets them thinking about college and their careers. We are extremely proud to be PLTW certified and happy that our students may now be eligible for college-level recognition."


As part of the recognition process, a team composed of administration, teachers, staff, students and members of the community submitted a self-assessment of the school’s implementation of PLTW’s Pathway To Engineering (PTE) program. A site visit by a PLTW-trained team followed. PLTW’s team met with teachers, school administrators, counselors, students and members of the school’s Partnership Team.


A PLTW school’s Partnership Team (sometimes referred to as an Advisory Council) is comprised of teachers, counselors, administrators, post-secondary representatives, business and industry professionals, and other community members who actively support the PLTW program within a school.


Jeannine Hisel, Kee High School guidance counselor added, “The beauty of PLTW courses is that our students get to experience how a concept they learned in science applies to real-world projects. Rather than sit passively and listen to a lecture, kids are building, developing, and creating. It’s the kind of hands-on experience that will engage more students in science, technology, engineering and math - fields that they might otherwise never have considered.”


“Kee High School should be congratulated for demonstrating once again its commitment to PLTW’s quality standards,” said PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram. “The real winners here, however, are the students. Students benefit from PLTW’s innovative, project-based curriculum that encourages creativity, problem solving and critical thinking. We look forward to many more years of working together to prepare Kee High students to become the most innovative and productive in the world.”


source: http://www.waukonstandard.com/main.asp?SectionID=24&SubSectionID=103&ArticleID=53922


Drake and DMACC announce STEM education certificate

Drake University and Des Moines Area Community College have partnered to offer an elementary teaching certificate in science, technology, engineering and math.

The certificate will allow DMACC students to take math and science courses, then transfer to Drake University to complete an education degree while taking extra upper-level STEM classes.

The idea for the program started four months ago as the colleges, as part of the governor’s statewide STEM initiative, brainstormed ways to increase exposure to science and technology in the classroom, said Eunice Merideth, associate dean at Drake University School of Education.

“We need kids of elementary- and secondary school-age to be excited about these areas; to go into these careers, and be inspired by them,” Merideth said.

The partnership is the first in Iowa between a community college and four-year institution to focus on STEM education, said Patsy Steffen, DMACC education program chairwoman.

The more than 400 students enrolled in DMACC’s education program will have the option to enter the certificate program. The number of math and science courses is more than double what’s required for a typical two-year degree, she said.

“We want to offer a quality and rigorous pathway, so students are very competent in their science, engineering and math skills,” Steffen said. “We really believe it will make them more marketable.”

source: http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2012/10/08/drake-and-dmacc-announce-stem-education-certificate/article

Lt. Gov. Reynolds announces recipients of STEM Scale-Up Programs

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today announced that more than 800 schools and community organizations will be participating in scale-up programs for the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Advisory Council.

“The focus of the council’s first year was figuring out how to begin delivering first-rate STEM education programs to students all over the state,” said Reynolds, co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “We have had some outstanding STEM programs in Iowa, but whether students had access depended on where they lived. These scale-up programs have changed that.”

Over the spring and summer, six regional STEM hubs were created with the appointment of regional hub managers and regional advisory councils. The regional managers were responsible for seeking applicants for the scale-up programs and have been busy notifying scale-up applicants as to whether or not they were selected.

“Applicants were selected based on need and capacity,” said Jeff Weld, Executive Director of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “We will be closely watching factors such as: test scores of our participants, attitudes and intentions of kids who participate in these programs, and readiness for post-secondary STEM study and careers to tell us the impact of our mission.”

The deadline for applications was Sept. 14, 2012, and the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council received over 900 applicants wanting to bring STEM programs to their communities.

“We were so impressed by the number of educators who applied for STEM programs for their kids. They understand the importance of the assuring more children have outstanding opportunities to learn about STEM,” said Reynolds. “This initiative is about increasing innovation, productivity and opportunity in Iowa, and expanding STEM education programs across Iowa moves us in that direction.”

Ben Allen, co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and University of Northern Iowa President, added, “The robust response to the Scale Up programming just goes to show the strong interest Iowa’s kids have for STEM learning. We’d like to thank the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in making the availability of this programming a reality.”

The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is a public-private partnership whose overarching goal is creating greater student achievement in STEM subjects and a stronger STEM workforce.


source: http://ltgovernor.iowa.gov/2012/10/lt-gov-reynolds-announces-recipients-of-stem-scale-up-programs/

McGraw-Hill Education Announces Winners of the 2012 STEM Innovative Educator Awards

McGraw-Hill Education today announced the winners of the Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Innovative Educator Awards (STEMIEs), a competition that honors innovative educators in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Lance Schwartz, an eighth grade technology teacher from Selinsgrove, Pa., has been named the first-prize winner. Tricia Fuglestad, a fifth grade technology teacher from Arlington Heights, Ill., and Jim Emmert, a high school technology teacher from Pella, Iowa, were awarded second and third place prizes.

Teachers entered the contest by submitting a short video that demonstrates innovative teaching methods in their STEM classrooms. Thirty finalists were selected by teachers and a panel of guest judges, and were uploaded to the STEMIE site to encourage teachers to review, share and vote on other lessons. In total, over 22,000 votes were cast for extraordinary teachers from all across the country.

"It's inspiring to see our country's great teachers in action, and we're delighted to be able to give this award to such a dynamic and captivating teacher," said Lisa O'Masta, vice president of STEM, McGraw-Hill School Education. "The energy and creativity captured in Mr. Schwartz's video entry is an inspiration to all of us in the STEM learning community, and we sincerely hope that the prize will not only help Selinsgrove Area Middle School continue to support exemplary STEM education but serve as a platform for teachers to share effective teaching strategies."

Mr. Schwartz's winning video, which can be seen at http://stemie.mcgraw-hill.com/, shows how his students use STEM concepts to design, build, analyze and race CO2-powered race cars. Selinsgrove Area Middle School will receive $15,000 to further enhance classrooms for STEM learning. A total of $25,000 will be awarded to three winners and five honorable mentions throughout the country.

For more information on McGraw-Hill Education's Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Innovative Educator Awards, please visit: http://stemie.mcgraw-hill.com/. 

source: http://www.heraldonline.com/2012/10/05/4316200/mcgraw-hill-education-announces.html 



$13 Million for Job Training and Workforce Development Announced for Iowa

A consortium of Iowa community colleges, including Kirkwood Community College in Iowa’s Creative Corridor, has been awarded a grant of $12,951,165 for targeted job training and workforce development.  The funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) initiative, a program created in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. 

Members will also partner with dozens of employers, business groups, Iowa’s workforce investment boards, and the University of Iowa.

The Iowa-Advanced Manufacturing (I-AM) consortium will collaboratively build training capacity by developing and awarding certificates, diplomas and associate degrees in welding, machining, industrial maintenance, industrial automation, manufacturing technology, robotics, and transportation and logistics. In addition, curricula in these programs will be aligned with third-party certifications, including the NCRC™, AWS, NIMS and MSSC, which are part of the National Association of Manufacturers’ Skills Certification System.

As a result, more than 3,000 displaced workers and other adults in need of re-training will be given the opportunity to earn a college credential and industry-recognized certifications in a shortened time frame, making them eligible for high-wage jobs with advancement opportunities in Iowa’s growing manufacturing sector.



source: http://www.iowacityareadevelopment.com/news/13million/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ICADG+%28Iowa+City+Area+Development+News%29

Lt. Gov. holds STEM lecture

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds says she would like to have more equipment and programs in Iowa’s classrooms to expose young children to the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, and keep them interested.

This is just one aspect of the STEM Education Initiative, which looks to improve the education of science, technology, engineering and math.

Gov. Terry Branstad launched a STEM Advisory Council last year through an executive order. The STEM Advisory Council is a public-private partnership whose overarching goal is creating greater student achievement in STEM subjects and a stronger STEM workforce.

“The initiative is really about innovation … it’s about growing jobs, it’s about closing the achievement gap, and it’s about inspiring our students to embrace STEM fields so that they really have the key to their future,” Reynolds said during a town hall-style lecture last week at Simpson College.

Co-chaired by Reynolds and University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen, the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council includes 40 leaders from across the state representing Iowa’s education, business and non-profit sectors, as well as legislators, state agency directors and national STEM experts.

The Sept. 17 lecture was one of a series of community conservations Branstad, Reynolds and Allen are holding across the state over the next month. Similar lectures have been held in Toledo, Cedar Falls, Jefferson, Boone, Marshalltown, Des Moines, Creston and Bedford.

Reynolds was the only co-chair of the STEM Council to speak at Simpson College last week. Branstad and Allen had other obligations and were not able to attend, Reynolds said.

The community conversations are designed to seek feedback from Iowans about what priorities the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council should focus on as the STEM initiative continues to build across the state.

STEM jobs require post-secondary training but Iowa ranks below the national average in percent of community college and university enrollees majoring in STEM, 12 percent versus a national average of 15 percent, Reynolds said.

“Just 51 percent of the class of 2012 who took the ACT tested college ready in math, and just 38 percent tested college ready in science,” Reynolds said. “It’s not acceptable that Iowa ranked 25th in eighth-grade math on national tests in 2011 when we were number one in 1992.”

So far, the initiative has been well received, Reynolds said. The Iowa Legislature appropriated $4.7 million for STEM this past year in a bipartisan agreement. Rep. Julian Garrett of Indianola attended last week’s discussion, as did dozens of local educators, business people, community leaders and Simpson College students.

Last May, the council set up six regional STEM network hubs at colleges across the state. The hubs are designed to help bring STEM programs to local schools and nonprofit organizations in their assigned area and are tasked with seeking additional private funding from businesses in STEM-related fields that would benefit from the investment of STEM education.

This summer, the council selected 12 projects proven to increase student interest and achievement in STEM. Educators may apply with the council to bring STEM programming to communities across the state. The current programs include: A World in Motion, Fabulous Resources in Energy Education, First Lego League, First Tech Challenge and iExploreSTEM.

More information about the STEM initiative can be found at: www.iowastem.gov.



source: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120925/INDIANOLA01/309250018/Lt-Gov-holds-STEM-lecture

Aerospace engineering program named No. 1 in job placement

Iowa State has been named one of the premier engineering schools in the nation, according to Aerospace Week and Space Technology Magazine.

This publication has deemed Iowa State the No. 1 school in regards to the number of graduates hired in the aerospace and defense industry. An achievement of such caliber places Iowa State’s aerospace engineering department in the same conversation as prestigious schools such as Cal Tech and MIT.

What sets Iowa State apart from these schools, however, is “places like Cal Tech and MIT turn out some very high quality students, but they don’t turn out very many students,” said Richard Wlezien, professor and department chairman of the aerospace engineering program. “I teach a freshman class, Introduction to Aerospace Design, and it's based on the MIT course. When MIT teaches the class, they teach it to 35 students; when I teach the class, I teach it to 230 students.”

Wlezien said Iowa State is not only up to par with the quality of students it produces but is also exceptional in terms of quantity. Given the readiness of graduates for the real world and the promising future of job availability in the aerospace and defense field, this level of success appears to be sustainable.

“There are jobs in aerospace engineering, and it doesn’t mean that everyone has to be in aerospace engineering," Wlezien said. "There are other fields that the aerospace companies hire. The challenge aerospace companies have right now is their workforce is aging, and they’re looking to replace those people, so there are opportunities.”

With enrollment up 10 percent in the aerospace program, Wlezien said ISU graduates are primed to take advantage of the aforementioned opportunities for years to come.

One current student who has already taken advantage of a great opportunity is Prasad Raman, a senior in aerospace engineering who has completed an internship with Boeing.

"[It was] a great opportunity to take some of the classroom knowledge and apply that to a real world problem — something that’s difficult to do in a classroom setting,” Raman said. 

Similar experiences are the norm for other students within the program, as they "come back with practical knowledge that really enhances what they do in the classroom, which is something that contributes to ISU having the highest rate of graduates hired," Wlezien said.

Stepping back to view a broader scale, ISU President Steven Leath explained how Iowa State goes about molding such high-level graduates, not only within the aerospace engineering program but universitywide.

“We’ve done a really good job at getting that blend between education and training," Leath said. "Iowa State has found this unique sweet spot to give them a really great education. [We] teach them how to think, but [we] give them enough hands-on education so they can do stuff."

To sustain this level of success, Leath believes maintaining a good balance is ideal.

“If we can continue to stay in that spot, we’ll do a great job of getting our kids jobs," Leath said. 



source: http://www.iowastatedaily.com/news/article_3a95817a-faf1-11e1-88a1-0019bb2963f4.html


Iowa Includes FIRST In Groundbreaking Legislation To Promote Student STEM Learning

Iowa Gov. Terry E. Brandstad will be joined by leaders of Iowa’s higher education and FIRST® to launch a groundbreaking program that sets aside $4.7 million for schools and community groups in the state to engage students in hands-on programs that promote science, technology engineering, and math (STEM).

The state of Iowa has committed $4.7 million to growing 12 exemplary STEM educational programs, based on their proven ability to stimulate interest and impact students' achievement in STEM-related topics. FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) and FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®), both FIRST programs, are two of these 12 hands-on programs selected by the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, distributed via six STEM regions, assuring access to all Iowa students for little or no cost to the school or after-school programming organization. The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is a public-private partnership whose overarching goal is creating greater student achievement in STEM subjects and a stronger STEM workforce in Iowa.

“Iowa is leading the country in fully enabling STEM education,” said Dean Kamen, FIRST founder and President of DEKA Research & Development Corporation. “The proven formula of utilizing hands-on learning programs to spark math and science education in the classroom places Iowa squarely in the position of being a leader and a model for the entire nation.”

According to Change the Equation’s STEM Vital Signs, jobs in STEM are expected to grow by 16 percent this decade in Iowa (57,830 jobs in 2008 to 67,330 by 2018). Currently, there are 42 other states considering similar STEM legislation.

“It is critical to provide Iowa’s students with a world-class education, which means emphasizing the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields,” said Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. “As co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, it’s about growing jobs, closing the achievement gap and inspiring students to embrace STEM fields to that they can take charge of their future.”

source: http://www.schoolbuyersonline.com/doc.mvc/iowa-includes-groundbreaking-legislation-student-stem-learning-0001



Lt. governor to tour Iowa to promote STEM education

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will travel around the state this fall to host 14 “community conversations” about the state’s efforts to push Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education — also known as STEM.

Reynolds and University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen lead the statewide STEM Advisory Council, which included the creation of six regional STEM hubs.

The hubs are at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville, Iowa State University in Ames, the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Southwestern Community College in Creston, Drake University in Des Moines and the University of Iowa/Kirkwood Community College.

“We are determined to provide Iowa’s young people with engaging STEM education opportunities, no matter where they live,” Reynolds said. “That will help assure more students are well-equipped to be knowledgeable citizens and to someday begin college or career training prepared for success. It also will help assure a stronger STEM employee pipeline for Iowa’s businesses and industries.”

The meetings begin Sept. 11. In the Quad-City area, Reynolds will host a Muscatine County STEM Community Conversation at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at Muscatine Community Schools Administrative Center’s Conference Room, 2900 Mulberry Ave., Muscatine.

Reynolds said the goal of the community conversations is to get feedback on the council’s proposals and how they can achieve them. The proposals include improving STEM teacher training, creating incentives for businesses to work with STEM training and establishing STEM career paths.

A full schedule of the meetings can be found here: http://1.usa.gov/OViy0a



source: http://qctimes.com/news/local/education/article_b2c7798e-f7ac-11e1-8833-001a4bcf887a.html#.UEiih_MMZiQ.twitter


Iowa leaders plan 14 statewide STEM education meetings
State officials announced plans for 14 community meetings  in September and October that will focus on science, technology, engineering and math education and economic development.
The “community conversations” are intended to see feedback from Iowans about what priorities the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council should focus on as an initiative on education and economic development continues to build across Iowa, said Gov. Terry Branstad. He was joined at a Statehouse news conference by Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen, who co-chair the advisory panel, which is described as a public-private partnership intended to improve student achievement and provide an educated workforce for Iowa employers.
“We are in the process of rolling out STEM programs through our scale-up initiative and these community conversations are a way to foster STEM relationships between local businesses, the regional STEM networks and area schools,” Allen said.
The following STEM Community Conversation events are open to the public:
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012
9:30 a.m. Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds and President Allen hold Tama County STEM Community Conversation
Reinig Center
1007 Prospect Dr.
Toledo, IA
11:30 a.m. Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds and President Allen hold Black Hawk County STEM Community Conversation
University of Northern Iowa – Center for Energy and Environmental Education – Main Lobby
1227 W 27th St.
Cedar Falls, IA
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012
9 a.m. Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds hold Greene County STEM Community Conversation
Greene County Community Center
204 W Harrison St.
Jefferson, IA
10:30 a.m. Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds hold Boone County STEM Community Conversation
DMACC Boone Campus – Auditorium
1125 Hancock Dr.
Boone, IA
12:30 p.m. Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds hold Marshall County STEM Community Conversation
Emerson Innovation Center, Fisher Technology
301 S 1st Ave.
Marshalltown, IA
Monday, Sept. 17, 2012
10 a.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds and President Allen hold Polk County STEM Community Conversation
Drake Legal Clinic Courtroom
2400 University Ave.
Des Moines, IA
1:30 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds holds Warren County STEM Community Conversation
Simpson College – McNeil Hall – Pioneer Conference Room
701 North C St.
Indianola, IA
Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012
1:30 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds and President Allen hold Union County STEM Community Conversation
Southwestern Community College – Instructional Center Room 180
1501 W Townline St.
Creston, IA
4 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds and President Allen hold Taylor County STEM Community Conversation
Bedford High School – Auditorium
906 Penn St.
Bedford, IA
Friday, Oct. 5, 2012
9 a.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds holds Emmet County STEM Community Conversation
Iowa Lakes Community College – Wind Energy Facility
2021 7th Ave. S
Estherville, IA
2 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds holds Webster County STEM Community Conversation
Iowa Central Community College – Bioscience and Health Services Auditorium (BHS105)
330 Ave. M
Fort Dodge, IA
Monday, Oct. 8, 2012
12:30 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds holds Muscatine County STEM Community Conversation
Muscatine Community Schools Administrative Center – Conference Room
2900 Mulberry Ave.
Muscatine, IA
3:30 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds holds Des Moines County STEM Community Conversation
Greater Burlington Partnership – Winegard Board Room
610 N 4th St., Suite 200
Burlington, IA
Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012
2 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds holds Linn County STEM Community Conversation
The Hotel at Kirkwood Community College – Ballroom
7725 Kirkwood Blvd. SW
Cedar Rapids, IA
Here are six recommendations of the STEM advisory panel:
1. Establish a STEM Professional Development Center to provide vision and leadership, Its work will include focusing on blended learning utilizing interactive technologies and expanding the pool of professional development providers to include private-sector professionals.
2. Improve STEM teacher training, licensure, and retention. This would include creating rigorous alternate pathways to the classroom for STEM professionals and creating a STEM endorsement for secondary and a STEM emphasis for elementary.
3. Build a web portal to house a best-practices clearinghouse (a comprehensive searchable database of curriculum, demonstrations, partnerships… directories of resources local, regional, national, international) and an on-line repository of all educational assets and professionals within Iowa.
4. Establish regional STEM-focused schools.
5. Increase public awareness of the importance of STEM by launching a campaign to include multi-media messaging focused on STEM careers.

6. Incentivize Iowa businesses to commit workforce, facilities and other resources such as equipment to STEM education. And in turn promote the Iowa Workforce Development Skilled Iowa initiative through schools, colleges, and informal educational facilities. 


source: http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2012/09/04/iowa-leaders-plan-14-statewide-stem-education-meetings/


Iowa names six STEM hub sites
Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and UNI President Ben Allen announced the selection of six regional network hubs that will promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and economic development across Iowa.
This is the first major initiative of the new Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, a public-private partnership whose overarching goal is creating greater student achievement in STEM subjects and a stronger STEM workforce. Each STEM network hub will work with business, education institutions, nonprofit groups and others in their region in a way that best fits local needs, interests and resources.
The six hubs are:
Northwest hub – Iowa Lakes Community College
Northeast hub – University of Northern Iowa
North central hub – Iowa State University
Southwest hub – Southwestern Community College
Southeast hub  – University of Iowa & Kirkwood Community College
South central hub  – Drake University
“These six regional STEM network hubs will be the driving force offering Iowa youngsters more opportunities to learn about STEM, which will better prepare them to someday consider STEM careers,” Branstad said. “STEM fields are among the fastest-growing, with many jobs that pay well.” 
 “Iowa is fortunate to have some outstanding STEM education programs, but whether students have access right now depends largely on where they live,” said Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “The hubs will provide these opportunities more equitably around the state. STEM occupations are critical to Iowa’s economic competitiveness because of the direct ties to innovation, productivity and economic growth.”
“Regional needs in STEM can best be met through local and regional programming that takes advantage of local assets such as partner businesses, county extension, formal and informal education organizations, nonprofits, and more,” said UNI President Ben Allen, co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “Great hope and expectation rides on these regional hubs and their managers to unite those assets for the betterment of STEM education across Iowa.”



source: http://www.iowacityareadevelopment.com/news/stemhub/

Governor's STEM Advisory Council Discusses Education Opportunities
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Just over one year after Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the formation of the Governor's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Advisory Council, the group is already hoping to ensure all schools across the state have an equal opportunity to develop a program.
And starting Wednesday August 15th, teachers will be able to begin applying for various STEM Scale-Up programs on the advisory's website through an application process.
But that change is just one of many to come following the advisory council's meeting in Iowa City on Tuesday afternoon. Within the next few years, those with the program have also recommended more inter-agency coordination to expand more STEM-related learning opportunities.
The council was created in July 2011 with the goal of raising student achievement in STEM areas, improving teachers, and guiding students through math and science courses and into careers that help develop the economy.
Jeffrey Weld, executive director of the STEM Advisory Council, said the group also hopes to standardize professional development opportunities throughout the state so all teachers have the ability to be the best they can be, and students have an equal opportunity to obtain quality education in STEM areas.
"I'm shocked that we can go from Anchorage, Alaska to Tampa and get a Big Mac and it will be the same good Big Mac wherever you're at. You can go to an orthopedic surgeon in Portland, Main or San Diego and have an ACL repair at the same quality, but that can not be said, anywhere else, about teaching," said Weld. "The quality of teaching is a happenstance birthright and we can't have that -- just because you're born in a locale of great academic riches, you get a great experience. It's unsustainable."
Other recommendations discussed Tuesday included building a website to house best-practices for STEM education, establishing STEM-focused schools, increasing public awareness of supporting STEM through multimedia messaging, and incentivizing Iowa businesses to commit resources -- such as employees and facilities -- to STEM education.
Jenny Becker, director of community relations with Rockwell Collins, said the company has been involved with STEM education outreach for more than 20 years, adding that partnership is important to both the future of Rockwell Collins' workforce and the economy as a whole.
"As we look to the future of our company, it's imperative that we support communication to have the best education system that we can possibly have," Becker said. "In addition, it's the the STEM education initiatives that will provide us with the workforce of the future, so its really the development of that future type of STEM-literate young people that we are concerned with."
And for those working in STEM education directly with students like Dan Niemitalo, a science teacher who works with students in the FIRST Robotics Challenge at Linn-Marr High School, the positive result that STEM-focused programs provide to students is obvious.
"These students end up learning a lot of new skills and they also find a good social group and that's important.They learn a lot of team work and then when they go to find a job that's all their employers want to hear about, you know, 'Tell me about your robotics stuff.'" said Niemitalo. "They're into it and you can see them growing into their ability to solving problems."




Kari Webb takes position as first Regional STEM Hub Coordinator



The first ever STEM (science, technology, education and math) Regional Hub Coordinator for Iowa Lakes Community College will be a familiar face in education circles.
Kari Webb has stepped down as a Spirit Lake High School teacher and Academic Dean and fill the role at the college to help connect education with private and public sectors. She will also help coordinate and plan educational activities and programs related to STEM. Webb has taught chemistry and Advanced Placement chemistry for Spirit Lake Community School District for 10 years.
"This is a huge opportunity to get back to my first love -- in terms of my professional career -- of education in the STEM area," she said. "I've always believed a solid background in science will propel students to a position where they will be very employable."
Gov. Terry Branstad's Advisory Council, in May, selected Iowa Lakes Community College as one of six regional hubs in the statewide initiative to support and promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
"I would like to connect innovation and education with economic ties," Webb said. "I see Iowa's future as depending upon creating a workforce that is competent in STEM educational sectors. Most jobs that are available to Iowans right now do require science, technology, engineering or math competencies."
The state of Iowa, Iowa Lakes Community College and Webb all recognize the important connection between the growing economy and the necessity of a workforce that is capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds have placed an emphasis on STEM education in Iowa during the past year.
"The thing that I really like about this initiative is that it's connecting education with the private sector," Webb said. "That's a huge theme that is going to be occurring throughout."
Webb, along with the Regional Advisory Council, will be looking to integrate business partnerships with education throughout northwest Iowa. In many ways, her new position is similar to the ideas that her and her colleagues at Spirit Lake High School began to focus on the last few years. And the focus won't just be centered on high school or college students either.
"This will be implemented kindergarten through college -- pre-K through pre-career," Webb said. "Obviously, we have a desire to have students that first engage in the areas -- science, technology, engineering and math -- or are interested in it as elementary students, then support it by their work as middle school students, but research shows if a student chooses not to receive proper training in one of those fields they aren't as employable. We want to support students all the way to career readiness."
An important part of Iowa Lakes and Webb's responsibility as the regional hub will be the promotion, funding and implementation of STEM scale-up projects throughout northwest Iowa, both within and outside of traditional school settings.
"Our region will have funding available and it will be through Iowa Lakes as the hub," Webb said. "It will then go to local education agencies, clubs and businesses. We will go to them and ask if they want to be a part of this, the funding is available if they'd like to offer this programming to students in their area."
Webb was selected by Iowa Lakes as the Hub Coordinator last week and the Advisory Council recently settled on 12 scale-up projects to get the ball rolling. These projects were identified as having significant impact on student achievement and engagement. The 12 projects are going to be the focus of the funding of the STEM Initiative.
"This position is looking at how businesses can collaborate with educators to remove barriers," Webb said. "I just want people to be aware that these programs are available and that they can step forward and ask for an opportunity to implement these programs -- we'd love to have them. These projects will have proven benefits."
In her new role, Webb will strive to advocate STEM activities and programming, as well as establish and maintain partnerships between the Regional Hub and northwest Iowa businesses with a STEM emphasis.
"Iowa Lakes Community College is poised to make a significant contribution to the region's already strong position," she said. "The exceptional STEM faculty and the new, well-equipped facilities at Iowa Lakes will allow the northwest hub to address many of the challenges identified by the Governor's advisory council."



source: http://www.dickinsoncountynews.com/story/1874202.html

Officials talk recruiting, retaining STEM teachers

The median income for a petroleum engineer was $114,00 last year, according to federal statistics, while a veteran science teacher in the Iowa City Community School District can bank on about $75,000.

That’s one of the biggest reasons schools say they’re having trouble finding and keeping science, technology, engineering and math teachers. A new Obama administration program aims to ease that problem, but local education leaders say the problem is likely to persist.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced this week that the Obama administration wants $1 billion in new funding to give high-caliber STEM teachers $20,000 in annual salary supplements. Within four years, federal officials hope to identify 10,000 teachers to participate in what they’re calling a “master teacher corps.”

“If America is going to compete for the jobs and industries of tomorrow, we need to make sure our children are getting the best education possible,” President Obama said in a White House statement.

Locally, Pat Highland, coordinator of career and technical education for ICCSD, said the district has fared well in recruiting and retaining STEM teachers, but there’s still a problem across the country.

“There are just too many options that are available to them outside of education that pay more,” said Highland, who teaches technology courses in the district.

In addition to some teachers leaving science teaching jobs to pursue private sector work, some say fewer science-interested college students are opting into education in the first place.

Tonja Richards, a spokeswoman at the Iowa Math and Science Education Partnership in Cedar Falls, said her organization is looking for ways to attract more students to the field.

“We saw early on that we were retiring (more science and math teachers) than we were putting out,” Richards said. “Fewer and fewer people are going into that field of education.”

In addition to the difference in paychecks, Richards said the allure of working on the cutting edge of technology plays a part as well.

“One of the biggest reasons is there’s a lot of stuff going on out there in STEM-related fields. It’s exciting and forward-thinking, and if you’re a math or science major, you might be more inclined to go in that direction than teaching,” she said.

Many Iowa STEM experts agree that Obama’s $1 billion initiative will help, but it doesn’t address the whole problem.

Teresa Finken is a former professor at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant and a member of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. She said solving the problem involves more than just money.

“Another issue is working conditions, which is my term for a lot of different elements that have caused teaching to be less attractive for many people: class size, lack of adequate facilities, funding, technology,” said Finken, a University of Iowa alumna.



source: http://www.press-citizen.com/article/20120720/NEWS01/307190049/Officials-talk-recruiting-retaining-STEM-teachers?odyssey=nav%7Chead&nclick_check=1

Lt. Gov. Reynolds applauds Iowa recipients of the Presidential Award
for Excellence in Mathematics and Science teaching
 Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today congratulated the two Iowa teachers who have received prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.


Today’s White House release announced that Karla Digmann of Dubuque received the award for math, and Jody Stone of Cedar Falls received the award for science.


“I want to congratulate both Karla and Jody for a job well done,” said Reynolds, who Co-Chairs the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Advisory Council with University of Northern Iowa President Ben Stone. “The jobs of the future are dependent on STEM education, and it is appropriate to honor those teachers whose instructional talents are bettering our students.


“Raising skill levels is critical for the innovation and productivity needed to drive a thriving Iowa economy. A key step to assuring young people acquire those skills is a rigorous, real-world education in science, technology, engineering and math. These teachers are furthering our administration’s goal of providing access to an outstanding STEM education for all Iowa’s students.”


source: http://oskynews.org/?p=46709

Governor's STEM Advisory Council Recommends an A for Agriculture


 The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council – emphasizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for Iowa’s youth – is missing a letter, according to Southeast Polk Agriculture Instructor Matthew Eddy.


It should be STEAM, with an ‘A’ for agriculture, if we are concerned about innovation and the future of Iowa’s economy, Eddy said, summing up the content of an op-ed piece he wrote for USA Today in February.

The FFA advisor makes the argument that America’s youth, particularly those in ag-centric Iowa, need a basic understanding of agriculture. But Eddy is not waiting for a governor’s initiative to get motivated, which is partially why the Iowa Association of Agriculture Educators will recognize SEP and Eddy for running the no. 1 “2012 Outstanding Middle/Secondary School Ag Ed Program” in the state.


“This award recognizes agricultural education programs for their overall success, growth and motivation. Outstanding agricultural education programs have educators who are innovators and catalysts for student success in agricultural education,” a statement from the IAAE read.

Eddy will receive the award at the Iowa Agricultural Education Summer Conference in Ankeny June 25-28.


In 2011, the SEP FFA chapter was the largest in the state of Iowa with nearly 250 students after showing consistent growth since the early 1990s. Since 2004, the SEP chapter has also been recognized annually as a three-star National Chapter, placing in the top 10 percent of programs in the nation.


Individual student accomplishment has also excelled in recent years, with two students receiving the chapter’s first American Degrees – FFA’s highest achievement for students. One student, Vivian Bernau, was also nominated as a National Star Finalist in Agriscience in the fall.


In addition to the FFA chapter, SEP offers extensive opportunities within its Curriculum for Agriculture Science Education, which includes courses like advanced animal science. The High School even has a $25,000 science lab and a greenhouse for students to apply their course work.


Eddy said the SEP program is special in the way it offers hands-on experience to students who previously had never encountered animals or agriculture.


“Our kids have a lot of interest in the animal science field, but they have no experience with it whatsoever,” Eddy said.

Now students enrolled in Advanced Animal Science with Eddy care for an entire herd of beef cattle year round to supplement their studies. Other students serve at the FFA Animal Learning Center at the Iowa State Fair, where they educate the public about animals and farming.


These vast ag-ed opportunities played a significant role in home-school student Sarah Stewart’s decision to attend SEP full time for her junior and senior year of high school.


“Between the classes and the FFA, you get a really well-rounded experience in agriculture,” Stewart said, giving all the credit to Mr. Eddy, who has directed the program for eight years. “Mr. Eddy is a great ag instructor. The program is what it is because of him and all the students know that.”


Stewart, 17, said she plans to spend her third summer working at the Animal Learning Center this year before starting at DMACC in the fall with scholarships to cover all her costs. After one year at DMACC, she said she will transfer to Iowa State University and graduate in two years with a degree in social studies and a minor in animal science. The plan is to teach during the school year and participate in horse judging during the summer, Stewart said.



source: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120611/ALTOONA01/306110044/SEP-s-ag-program-honored-by-IAAE?nclick_check=1

Iowa Interactive Partners with the Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership to Launch New STEM Web Site

DES MOINES, Iowa--Iowa Interactive and the Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership (IMSEP) have collaborated to create the new Web site which offers Iowans an online one-stop for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and innovation information.

The Web site, http://www.IowaSTEM.gov offers comprehensive access to essential STEM information for educators, students, families and children.

"We are excited to provide this resource for Iowans," said Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council along with University of Northern Iowa President Benjamin Allen. "This user-friendly Web site brings everyone up to date on the importance of STEM. From learning what is happening in state-level STEM, to fun activities families can do at home to spark that sense of wonder with their children, there is something here for everyone."

The Web site targets a broad range of interests with each page providing detailed information about education, civic and recreational opportunities and innovation happenings across the state. This page will also serve as the landing page for the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, showcasing Iowa's targeted priorities for action planning. Designers considered three main audiences when regarding site content: students, educators and parents. Students can look for STEM careers, cool Web sites and click through Iowa’s community college offerings, as well as public and private colleges and universities. Parents will like the various resources to invigorate their children's interest in math, science, engineering and technology as well as links to STEM events occurring around the state. Educators can browse for classroom resources and afterschool programming ideas.

"The new Web site, IowaSTEM.gov, is a powerful extension of the work of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council," said Jeff Weld, the council’s executive director. “Our promise to deliver to citizens of the state a world-class STEM education includes delivery on access to information and opportunity, which the new site helps us to do.”

The creation of the Web site was a collaboration of IMSEP and Iowa Interactive, a subsidiary of NIC. Iowa Interactive also created the governor and lt. governor’s Web sites, as well asthe Iowa Education Summit Web site which highlights efforts that are outcomes of last year’s Iowa Education Summit. Each of these sites was built at no cost to the taxpayers by leveraging Iowa Interactive’s self-funded model.


source: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120405005869/en/Iowa-Interactive-Partners-Iowa-Mathematics-Science-Education


The World Food Prize Offers New STEM Education Opportunity for all Iowa High School Students


(Des Moines, Iowa, March 7, 2012) – The World Food Prize and Iowa State University are inviting students from every high school in the state to participate in the very first Iowa Youth Institute on Monday, April 30. The daylong program aims to inspire high school students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math, particularly related to the critical areas of food and agriculture, as well as global sustainability, development and policy work.

Governor Terry Branstad will attend the event and give a keynote address. He will be joined at the event by Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and ISU President Steven Leath. Pioneer Hi-Bred President Paul Schickler and his wife Claudia, whose generous personal donation has made this new statewide program possible, will also participate in the day’s events.
“We are thrilled to be able to create this educational opportunity for students all across Iowa,” said Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. “It was the dream of our founder, Dr. Norman Borlaug, to build youth programs here in Iowa and across the country that would encourage the next generation of innovators and scientists to continue the fight against hunger and to solve our world’s global challenges.”
Interested students have until April 1 to register online, and must also submit a five-page essay at that time about an issue related to global food security. Details and instructions are available at this link.
During the day, the students will present their papers in small groups and interact with experts from both the academic world and the food and agriculture industries. They will have the opportunity to tour labs and learn about current research initiatives going on in Iowa that have a global impact. Finally, students will hear from several keynote speakers. Teachers accompanying each student will also participate in all of these interactive activities and will be exposed to the opportunities that abound for today’s students.
This year, The World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute will welcome 200 students from across the state. Slots are filling up quickly, so interested students are encouraged to register immediately. Learn more at www.worldfoodprize.org/iowayouth or contact Catherine Swoboda at 515-245-3727 or cswoboda@worldfoodprize.org.
TODAY: The World Food Prize is sharing information about its youth programs at the Iowa State Capitol today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of STEM Education Day. The World Food Prize will have a display in the rotunda; staff will be on hand, as will students who have participated in other World Food Prize youth programs. For a brochure about our programs, and examples of the careers that have been launched, visit www.worldfoodprize.org/launchingcareers.
ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE YOUTH PROGRAMS: Students participating in statewide youth institutes write an essay on a food security topic each year. The top students from several states are then invited to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in October, where they interact with experts at the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium, visit research facilities and take part in interactive activities, and present their essays to panels of experts that include World Food Prize laureates and other renowned scientists. They are also eligible to apply for Borlaug-Ruan International Internships, eight-week summer internships at research centers in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE:  The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, The World Food Prize has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Laureates have been recognized from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States.
Media Contact: Megan Forgrave, Director of Communications, 515-245-3794


Iowa Invests WIA Incentive Funds in Workforce Partnerships

Iowa is making long-term investments of incentive funds earned for high performance under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) in an Adult Literacy for the Workforce in Iowa initiative (ALWI). Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Department of Education's Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation received two rounds of incentive grant funds in 2009 and 2010. The agencies allocated $779,429 to Iowa’s 15 community college adult literacy programs through June 30, 2011, and $706,297 through June 30, 2012. ALWI funding was awarded based on the commitment of each community college to include in their programs innovation; research to support their approach; partnerships; and plans for recruitment, retention, sustainability, evaluation, and professional development. The new 2010 WIA Incentive Grant Proposal will support the colleges’ efforts to enhance ALWI programs by:

 Expanding the ALWI of community colleges;

 Investing in online GED instruction;

 Extending National Career Readiness Certificate and WIN Licensing; and

 Implementing data system alignment activities.

ALWI participants comprise a longitudinal data set, which allows the state to study follow-up outcomes such as participants’ workforce entrance and retention, enrollment in postsecondary education and training programs, and in credit and non-credit training in community colleges or public and private universities. More information is available from Iowa’s State Director Helene Grossman.