The governor’s STEM Advisory Council will highlight the accomplishments of the effort this Thursday at the capitol building in Des Moines, but gave a preview at the governor’s news conference Monday.
The focus on STEM or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, began in 2011 and advisory council cochair Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds says the Scale-Up programs have been key.
“Getting those high-quality programs in the hands of students, and these 10 outstanding STEM programs, I am happy to say are reaching over 117,000 students in the State of Iowa,” according to Reynolds. The legislature appropriated $5.2 million for STEM programs in 2014-2015, and that is supplemented with support from other sources. “Scale Up programs I am happy to say are in more than 90-percent of the 338 school districts across the state of Iowa, as well as many non-public schools and out-of-school settings,” Reynolds says. ” And our goal is to be in 100-percent of the districts, and we hope to do that relatively soon.”
The executive director of the STEM Advisory Council, Jeff Weld, is also an associate biology professor at the University of Northern Iowa.
“We’ve been at this for three-and-a-half years and I think we’re beginning to see the impact of our affect. We have a wonderful uptick in the number post-secondary community college and four-year college majors in the STEM fields that we are seeing lately,” Weld says. “We’re seeing wonderful evidence of public support and awareness of the STEM cause for our state. We are seeing an encouraging rise in the number of teachers earning math and science teaching endorsements.”
STEM information shows a 13-percent increase in the number of teachers in Iowa with one teaching endorsement in science or math. “Last year the Board of Educational examiners approved a new STEM endorsement. So, unlike your and my school experiences where we took math and we took science, kids of our not-to-distant future will be able to take STEM classes by teachers trained and prepared to teach interdisciplinary active, community-based, problem-solving approaches to learning,” Weld says.
Displays touting the work of the STEM Council will be set up in the capitol rotunda Thursday.