Members of the STEM Advisory Council alongside academic, business, public policy and nonprofit leaders and passionate volunteers took part in a six-month quest to chart the course of STEM in Iowa. Beginning with an array of dozens of brainstormed priorities on the table, Council members focused in on four most pressing areas plus one special study. Working groups were formed around those five areas and contributors gave their time, ideas and expertise to developing recommendations for:
- STEM Career Exploration and Guidance
- District Best Practices in STEM
- Equity in STEM
- STEM to STEAM?
- STEM Teacher Preparation and Professional Development
These working groups served the STEM Council valiantly in incubating actions to realize those priorities. Following months of meetings, research and collaboration, the working groups delivered twelve recommendations to the STEM Advisory Council. Collectively, the STEM Advisory Council ranked the recommendations in order of urgency. The six of those receiving the highest ranks are:
- Increase the diverse youth voice in STEM programming and outreach.
- Prioritize an equity focus in STEM communications and professional learning opportunities.
- Increase diverse role models in STEM programming and outreach.
- Assemble a STEM Education Collaborative to support STEM pre-service and in-service teachers.
- Create an Iowa STEM Solutions Resource Map/Guide.
- Capture and share Iowa STEM Remote Connectivity Best Practices, such as a play book providing links and resources of existing material to facilitate online/remote learning for STEM stakeholders, a "how-to" for planning virtual STEM events/webinars that highlight successes.
Complementing the strategic planning process has been a series of Council member conversations conducted by the executive director through November and December. The culmination will be a merged report of all quantitative and qualitative data presented to Council leadership in early 2021 for clearance to proceed on key actions.
A special “thank you” goes out to all of the working group members who were selflessly committed to mapping out these priorities. These recommended actions will guide the STEM Council forward into 2021 and beyond and will leave a lasting impact on students in Iowa.