The third year of the “Scale-Up” program that’s designed to give a sort of turbo boost to students interested in science, technology, engineering and math is available beginning today. Those areas are known as “STEM” and Jeff Weld is the executive director of the Governor’s STEM Council.”It’s really quite simple, identify some of the best STEM education programs going on in Iowa — or across the nation for that matter — and grow it here, rather than inventing or recreating wheels, this is the path the council took,” Weld says.
The council put out a call for STEM proposals for the third year of Scale-Up. “Twenty-nine applicants came in from across the country, filled out proposals and an expert panel of independent reviewers were assigned by the council to sift through the proposals and these 10 survived a 13-point checklist to be grown across the state for the kids of Iowa,” Weld says.
The 10 programs are now listed on the STEM Council’s website, and groups and schools can apply to get funding to implement one of them. “If all goes well, most of the applicants get funded,” Weld says. “We fell a bit short last year — ran out of money before we got all the applicants served — but we get most of the applicants served across the state. Last year there some 900 applications serving about three-thousand classes and clubs.”
Weld knows first hand about the importance of students getting a good STEM education as an associate professor of biology at the University of Northern Iowa. The council has three million dollars to spend on the Scale-Up programs. “So far indicators are very strong that this investment inspires more interest among the youth of Iowa in STEM fields,” Weld says. “We’ll watch them over the years to make sure that they take advanced coursework in the STEM fields in high school to prepare them for post-secondary study and ultimately for the entry into career paths into the fields of information technology or the biosciences or advanced manufacturing — all those industry sectors that rely on a sound STEM education.”
For more information on the Scale-Up programs that are available this year, go to the STEM Council’s website at: www.iowastem.gov/2014-2015-stem-scale-programs