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Iowa receives $1.2 million federal STEM grant

Gov. Terry Branstad
Gov. Terry Branstad

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a 3-year, $1.2 million grant to the Iowa Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Advisory Council for the project entitled “Iowa STEM Education Evaluation (I-SEE): Navigating the Iowa STEM Roadmap.”

The proposed plan is to build a coordinated statewide evaluation system that comprehensively assesses the educational and economic changes that occur throughout a long-term statewide STEM initiative.

“This award validates the hard work Iowa’s educators, parents, students and communities are accomplishing in support of the hundreds of STEM projects throughout the state,” said Reynolds, who co-chairs the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council in Iowa. “This grant will be used to continue ramping up our exciting programs, and will build on the STEM enthusiasm we see every day as we visit Iowa’s 99 counties.

The I-SEE project objectives are to:

1) generate best practices in developing and implementing evaluative strategies to examine statewide STEM initiatives, as well as translating and disseminating evaluation and research findings to support the improvement of a state plan to advance K-12 STEM education;

2) identify, develop and sustain evaluative capacity and infrastructure that emphasizes accessible and useful resources, especially those that are online; and

3) create a system to examine statewide cultural change related to STEM, particularly in terms of public awareness of and support for STEM education and workforce/economic development initiatives.

“I want to commend everyone involved in Iowa’s STEM program,” said Gov. Branstad. “The need for quality STEM education is so great in this country, and I view Iowa as a pioneering state in advancing these important life and career skills.”

The project is a collaboration of evaluation centers at Iowa’s three public universities: the Center for Social and Behavioral Research at UNI; the Center for Evaluation and Assessment at the UI, and the Research Institute for Studies in Education at ISU.

President Ben Allen, co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, said, “Receipt of this grant is evidence of leveraging state resources to obtain additional funds that will advance the evaluation component of this statewide initiative. This grant will augment the collaborative and innovative STEM evaluation work being undertaken by the Executive Director, Jeff Weld, the six Regional STEM Hub Managers, K-12 teachers and university researchers. Furthermore, receiving this grant demonstrates the confidence and interest other states have in what and how we are making a positive impact on statewide STEM education.”

State STEM Evaluation is a new category within the RETA (research-evaluation-technical assistance) aspect of the NSF’s MSP (Math-Science Partnership) program and Iowa’s is the first award of its kind. Our charge is to study Iowa’s STEM initiative so as to disseminate and inform other state STEM initiatives.

“This award from the NSF acknowledges Iowa’s 18 month old STEM initiative as one of great promise for informing all states as to building a comprehensive and collaborative environment for STEM education reform,” said Jeff Weld, executive director. “Strong partnerships across Iowa’s business and education sectors have positioned us well to lead.”

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