On Monday, Sept. 17, Drake University hosted â€œConnecting the Community,â€ a town hall-style event featuring conversations about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen were on hand to give an overview of the program and take suggestions and questions from the roughly 30 people in attendance. They are the co-chairs of the Governorâ€™s STEM Advisory Council, a public-private partnership whose overarching goal is creating greater student achievement in STEM subjects and a stronger workforce.
Held at the Drake Legal Clinic, Reynolds and Allen started the conversation off with information about what the STEM Advisory Council had accomplished and what is next for the council. They emphasized the importance of expanding access to STEM programs and working with schools, business, and communities to do so.
Reynolds and Allen discussed next steps for the Council including embarking on a media campaign to share the importance of STEM to students, parents, and community members. They also discussed the importance of providing access to excellent STEM professional development for teachers and are working with area education agencies, schools of education and K-12 schools to consider what is needed in the areas of teacher training and professional development. Allen and Reynolds mentioned exploring STEM teaching certification and discussed the possibility of STEM-focused schools.
Audience members asked questions about how college students could participate in the program and how success would be measured. Allen and Reynolds took various suggestions into consideration and provided examples of how the Council was undertaking some of the issues that arose.
In May, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad named Drake one of six regional network hubs that will promote STEM education and economic development across the state. A regional manager, Kris Kilibarda, has been appointed, along with an advisory board.