2017 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 2017 to disburse $475,000 in cost-shared funds to 19 competitively-selected school partnerships, bringing to the table a total cost-share commitment of $2,880,481. The 2017 STEM BEST® Program partners are:

Albia Community Schools

The Albia Community Schools will commence a collaborative learning model between business, community and education in the fall of 2018. This model will bring relevant, rigorous and authentic learning experiences to life for students while working with business partners and Indian Hills Community College. Students will be immersed in community projects with a STEM focus that will solve real problems in the Albia area, thus improving the living and working conditions for our citizens.

Contact: Kevin Crall at kevin.crall@albia.k12.ia.us

Alburnett Schools

The Alburnet Community School District developed and implemented a program called the Pirate Collaborative in 2016-2017 to bridge the needs and issues of businesses with increased applicability and relevance in learning for students. The Pirate Collaborative aims to aid students in the work they do for businesses in their school projects, and these businesses provide career awareness, preparation, and exploration to their students. The Alburnet CSD Financial Model includes In-Kind support from both local businesses and the school district itself for professional development, technology, equipment, and program partners for $25,250, while the STEM BEST® Program award would cover technology, equipment, and facility development improvements.

Contact: Brian Moretz, Principal, at bmoretz@alburnettcsd.org

Ankeny Schools

Ankeny created a college and career readiness program called Orbis that exemplifies the STEM BEST® Program model, where students are solving real problems in partnership with the workforce. These problem solving, project-based experiences are grounded in the Universal Constructs and 21st Century Employability Skills from the Iowa Core. In addition to allocating funding for a full-time Director of College and Career Readiness to implement this program, the district needs to begin pilot projects for Orbis which include meeting with local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and students to engage in collaborative project planning and design, along with a collaboration space for all of this to occur with in-kind and school district funding of $130,000. The STEM BEST® Program award would cover professional development, site visits, and conferences to better meet the needs of students and the workforce. 

Contact: Dr. Jill Urich at jill.urich@ankenyschools.org

Atlantic Community Schools

Atlantic Community Schools' STEM BEST® Program model is a pre-apprentice approach to the constructions trades. Their business partners will provide support and expertise (Master Licensed contractors) as they create and implement a robust construction trades program. The Atlantic School Board has purchased a facility that can house such a program allowing room to develop more in years to come. Incorporating a comprehensive exploratory program at the middle school is another part of this project. The curriculum taught will include hands-on experiences in modeling and construction applications and 21st Century Skills, which will focus on employability skills, technology and financial literacy.

Contact: Heather McKay at hmckay@atlanticiaschools.org

Cedar Falls Community Schools

Cedar Falls is further developing a CAPS program in Engineering Technology, Communication and Design, and Education. The community partnerships will involve students working on projects that fulfill needs for businesses, job shadowing opportunities, access to resources and equipment for students and fresh, creative minds for businesses. The financial model includes $278,045 from in-kind, partnership, Cedar Falls CSD, and other grants for classroom spaces, equipment, contracts, and personnel, while the STEM BEST® Program award would be used for contracts and some equipment costs. 

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

Chariton Community Schools

Chariton Community Schools in partnership with the Lucas County Development Corporation will implement the REAL (Relevant – Engaged – Applied – Learning) program in the 2018-2019 school year. The program will engage high school students in on-site, work-based, career-specific projects providing experience in STEM careers. Students will be exposed to high-demand fields such as design/engineering, diesel mechanics, IT, nursing, coding, finance and supply chain. Initially, nine businesses, including Hy-Vee, Johnson’s Machine Works and the Lucas County Health Center, have partnered to provide career awareness, exploration and preparation & training opportunities for students through tours, speakers, career course development committees and hosting students in the workplace.

Contact: Tracy Hall at tracy.hall@chariton.k12.ia.us

Davenport West High School

Davenport West High School purchased a Haas CNC Mill under the STEM BEST® Program award in 2015 and is expanding its Advanced Manufacturing program with the purchase of a Haas CNC lathe. Working with business partnerships and focusing on Advanced Manufacturing, Davenport West HS plans to revitalize manufacturing in the Quad Cities by creating a high tech area of students learning CNC programming and operating. Davenport West HS will work to expand student internships with M.A. Ford for students wanting to pursue careers as engineering technologists and engineers. M.A. Ford also supports the Governor's STEM Advisory Council's STEM Teacher Externships Program.

Contact: Greg Smith at smithgr@davenportschools.org

Des Moines Hoover High School 

Hoover’s STEM Academy implemented in 2012 is a school-within-a-school model that focuses on providing robust experiences for all students who connect the Hoover learning community with businesses and institutes of high education in authentic, collaborative and challenging ways. This award expands upon a previously awarded STEM BEST® Program award and focuses on two goals: (1) providing students with opportunities to conduct research at a university or internship with local businesses and (2) providing teachers with ongoing, in-depth professional development. The total project value of $170,635 consists of In-kind funding of $125,635.

Contact: Jonathan Temple at jonathan.temple@dmschools.org

IKM-Manning Community School District

IKM-Manning wants to develop their Middle School SPARK program and repurpose a classroom into a Makerspace environment. This would help engage more students in project-based learning and with community business partners. The IKM-Manning Foundation GALA brings together many invested partners and has shown to be a sustainable source of funding in years past. Their financial model illustrates $28,500 of in-kind support and school district funding for technology and equipment upgrades, and Makerspace materials, while the STEM BEST® Program award would fund room furniture and professional development opportunities.

Contact: Luann Langel at llangel@ikm-manning.k12.ia.us

Iowa BIG North

This is the second full year of operations for their Iowa BIG North consortium, which has been a catalyst for strengthening their business and school district partnerships. Within these districts, many local businesses have plans for incorporating student learning and relevance to their programs. The financial model illustrates a desire to expand out to other locations, along with trainings and technology upgrades for a grand total of $39,150, with $20,000 coming from the school districts.

Contact: Mike Kuennen at m_kuennen@new-hampton.k12.ia.us or Donna Forsyth at dforsyt@charles-city.k12.ia.us

Iowa City Community School Schools

Iowa City community school district wants to scale all of their current STEM-driven programs to provide the experience to all students that connects each individual program. Many businesses have been involved with the individual programs for years and continue to support the school district. Their financial model provides a majority of in-kind funding for a new personnel salary, workplace learning contracts, and professional development for teachers with $103,301. The STEM BEST® Program award would be applied to curriculum development, site visits, and professional development.

Contact: Matt Degner at degner.matt@iowacityschools.org

Marshalltown Learning Academy

Marshalltown schools created the Marshalltown Learning Academy to provide a personalized learning environment for students several years ago; due to great success, they want to scale up the program and include apprenticeship programs with area businesses that are often already in partnership with the school district. The STEM BEST® Program award will fund professional development, site visits, curriculum updates, and student field experiences, while in-kind funding would support a 0.5 time salary for a teacher and improving TLC curriculum.

Contact: Eric Goslinga at egoslinga@marshalltown.k12.ia.us

Muscatine Community Schools with West Liberty Elementary and Muscatine Community College

STEAM into MCC was a recipient of a 2017 Iowa STEM BEST® Program award. In the spring of 2017, all six elementary schools in the Muscatine Community School District (MCSD) and teachers from MCSD and Muscatine Community College (MCC) partnered to offer a unique after-school program for 4th and 5th graders. Twenty-eight kids participated in the inaugural program: 15 girls, 13 boys and 16 minorities. While much was accomplished in our first year, work remains to meet all of the outcomes. In 2018, we will double the number of students served and expand into a new elementary school with 54% Latino students. A STEM BEST® Program award will fund a portion of a project director, stipends for six teachers/MCC faculty, and transportation to business partners, MCC and Muscatine High School.

Contact: Jerald Riibe at jerry.riibe@muscatine.k12.ia.us

Newton High School

Newton High School‘s program is called Fledge Innovator, a partnership between the high school, businesses and the community. Area business partners will provide authentic projects for students to work collaboratively on their assigned projects on site or at the new NHS STEM Innovation Center called "The Incubator." The STEM BEST® Program award will support retrofitting The Incubator space with modern aesthetics and technology. The course supports STEM initiatives and follows the University of Iowa's STEM Engineering or Biz Innovator Curriculums. The class will be open for juniors and seniors and will meet for 1.5 hours for nine weeks.

Contact: Bill Peters at petersb@newtoncsd.org

North Iowa Community School District

Partnering with a primary local partner, NGT (Next Generation Technology), North Iowa CSD plans to develop Next Generation Kits (NGK’s), providing hands-on student-led learning opportunities that challenge and engage students while aligning to NGSS and other CORE standards, to be used in their Solution Center. NGK’s will foster creativity, innovation and problem solving skills. Initial kit topics will include build a PC, Drones, Networking, Web Development, Robot Vacuums, Smart Homes, Security Cameras, 3D Printing, Astronomy and App Design. STEM BEST® Program funds will support purchase of materials for the kits, and staff coordination of NGK alignment to academic standards.

Contact: Joe Erickson, Superintendent, erickson@northiowa.org

Oelwein Community Schools

PROJECT ONE was created by the Oelwein Community School District in conjunction with the Oelwein Economic and Area Development to create opportunities for students to flourish in robust Project and Work Based Learning Environments. With support of local businesses, authentic learning opportunities will provide students with a rich opportunity to explore interests, learn in cross-curricular classrooms and develop skills of the Universal Constructs. Pedagogical professional learning will be provided to teachers as OCSD prepares for this Project and Work Based approach to education. Oelwein Community School District believes EveryONE will have an opportunity to engage in: PROJECT ONE: ONE PROJECT, ONE BUSINESS, ONE STUDENT AT A TIME.

Contact: Deb Kaeppel at dkaeppel@oelwein.k12.ia.us

Southwest Valley Middle School of Villisca

In the early years of Villisca, the heart of our town was the local train station. This was a very a common place for all community members to collaborate ideas. Since the closing of the station, the town lost much more than a transportation facility. With the STEM BEST® Program award, Villisca will regain that intellectual common place and it will be known as the Career Stop. Collaboration between community members and students will problem-solve real world situations.  Our vision is to create a Career Stop which is a learning space where area businesses can come in to teach our students some of the skills they use on the job. The idea is to integrate as many of the Career and Technical Education strands as possible. Teachers and businesses will work together to create curriculum units that integrate entrepreneur and apprenticeship skills and hands-on learning job skills for students. STEM BEST® Program funds will support site visits to area programs for educators, supplies for start-up coffee shop and wood-working shop, and remodel of space donated by SW Valley MS. 

Contact: Lora Top at ltop@villiscaschools.org

Spirit Lake Middle School 

The goal at Spirit Lake Middle School is to create a multipurpose educational makerspace that connects school with community. The makerspace concept provides hands-on, creative ways that allow students to innovate while engaging them in deep learning in all academic disciplines. The STEM BEST® Program award will support purchasing furniture and technology for adding a contemporary presentation area designed to provide accessibility, mobility and inspiration within the makerspace. The award will also support renovating the current Maker area. Connecting with local businesses and nonprofits to raise STEM career awareness and job skills are also a priority. The end goal is to establish a public asset Makerspace that will deliver STEM opportunities not only to Spirit Lake students but also to the community. 

Contact: Angela Olsen at aolsen@spirit-lake.k12.ia.us

West Liberty Community Schools

The goal of the project is to bring an innovative technology experience involving virtual reality to the students. Shaking Earth Digital, LLC (SED) will design a program for students to create their own virtual reality (VR) game or experience. Students will create a project in an after school program. “I'm beyond excited. We have a unique opportunity to not just expose students to future technology, but to shape future itself.” - Jens Zalzala, owner of Shaking Earth Digital. “We wanted students to be creators behind VR. We are thrilled to bring this experience to our students and grateful for partnering with Shaking Earth Digital!” -Jackie Henderson, West Liberty Community Schools teacher. 

Contact: Jackie Henderson at jhenderson@wl.k12.ia.us