Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today were joined at their weekly press conference by Dr. Jeff Weld, executive director of the Governor's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Advisory Council and Shelly Vanyo, a science teacher at Boone High School, to highlight Iowa's STEM initiative, three years after it was established by Executive Order 74.
"It's remarkable what a dedicated group of Iowans can accomplish. Gov. Branstad and I knew that to prepare our children for a globally competitive job market, we had to promote and provide a quality STEM education," said Reynolds, who serves as the Governor's STEM Advisory Council co-chair with Vermeer CEO Mary Andringa. "Today, over 3,000 classrooms and clubs involving more than 100,000 young Iowans were involved in STEM in 2013-14, and the program continues to expand its reach to every corner of the state with each passing year."
Branstad and Reynolds highlighted the progress made by the Governor's STEM Advisory Council:
Created a network of six STEM regions partnering with Hub institutions to support the program delivery by outstanding regional STEM managers, each overseen by regional STEM boards.
Implemented the Council's vision for providing excellent STEM programs to children across Iowa, both inside and outside schools.
Launched STEM-focused classrooms, STEM teacher licenses, community STEM festivals, STEM connections between business and education, and a STEM awareness campaign, among other innovations.
Over 3,000 classrooms and clubs involving more than 100,000 young Iowans were involved in STEM in 2013-14.
"Every one of the STEM programs rolled out to educators across Iowa this past year has met or exceeded its objective of inspiring greater interest in STEM among students. That's important because facts show that STEM careers pay, on average, $10 dollars more per hour than non-STEM jobs, translating to average incomes of $58,800 versus $39,300 for all occupations," said Branstad. "We made a commitment to Iowans that we will provide the tools to succeed in STEM, and we are delivering on that commitment."
In addition, the Governor's STEM Advisory Council released a report evaluating the impact of STEM education efforts across the state. Iowa STEM is independently evaluated by a consortium led by UNI's Center for Social and Behavioral Research working with ISU's Research Institute for Studies in Education and UI's Iowa Testing Programs. The findings of this report are based on data from over 20,000 student participants in the STEM Scale-Up program and 600 STEM educators, and nearly 1,900 Iowans who participated in the statewide survey.
Among the key findings from the report were:
Students participating in STEM Scale-Up programs reported more interest in STEM topics and STEM careers afterward.
A small gender gap between male and female participation in Scale-Up has been narrowed from Year 1 to Year 2 of programming.
Participation of minority students matches their share of Iowa's school-age population.
Awareness of the acronym STEM among adults has increased 58 percent between 2012 and 2013.
And in case we were not sure if all this mattered to the average Iowan, a whopping 98% of surveyed adults agree that advancements in STEM will give more opportunities to the next generation.
"The results are especially gratifying for everyone involved in Iowa's STEM effort. I was particularly pleased to see that three-fourths of all the teachers who scaled-up a STEM program this year reported greater skills and confidence to teach STEM and 750 business partnerships took place this year with educators scaling up STEM programs," said Weld. "Connecting schools and businesses is a major strategy of the Council, because of the promise these connections hold for maintaining the momentum in STEM."
For more information on STEM education in Iowa, please visit www.IowaSTEM.gov.