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The Iowa Governor’s STEM Council Announces Launch of Redesigned STEM Learning Environments, Guest Blog Post By: Kari Webb, Northwest Iowa Regional Manager, Governor’s STEM Initiative

The Iowa Governor’s STEM Council Announces Launch of Redesigned STEM Learning Environments
Guest Blog Post By:
Kari Webb, Northwest Iowa Regional Manager, Governor’s STEM Initiative
 
 
Today’s headline news in Iowa STEM circles is the release of a Request For Proposals to provide support for innovative, redesigned STEM Learning Environments---schools and classrooms with an outside-of-school twist!  With an aggressive timeline, proposals will be due on August 30th, with the design and implementation phase to occur during Spring, 2014. Strong proposals will demonstrate a commitment to three key characteristics that have been endorsed by the Iowa STEM council.
 
Redesigned STEM Learning Environments: STEM is interactive, dynamic, collaborative, inquiry driven, trans-disciplinary, and student-centered.  Technology will be seamlessly embedded and ubiquitously available to both teachers and learners.  Workspaces facilitate pathways of communication and creativity.  A STEM learning environment encourages tangential discoveries and multi-faceted decision-making. Students will require learning spaces that embrace failure (experimentation and design) as an important aspect of their academic experience. They will need to develop collaborative skills that mesh physical and virtual environments. Increasingly, students are learning and working in hybrid spaces, "third spaces", that require unique tools and skill sets. 
 
Integrated STEM curriculum focused on personalized, deeper learning:  Iowa STEM Schools will inspire innovative, lifelong learners within interdisciplinary environments, stimulating constructive connections between seemingly abstract concepts and encouraging insightful leadership via technology-rich, real-world applications anchored by global literacy.  An integrated approach to the STEM and non-STEM disciplines will result in a re-imagined use of time in school, allowing students to engage with core content in novel and deeper ways.  Students will be encouraged to deploy tools and technologies that build local system capacity while retaining the perspective of global citizenry.
 
Higher Education, Private Business and Non-formal Learning Community Partners
  • Higher Education:  Within the context of a STEM school, partnerships with post-secondary institutions will provide students support throughout a blended high school and college experience.  
  • Private Business Partnerships:  Iowa STEM schools will build meaningful partnerships with community businesses as a mechanism to ensure career and college readiness for all of Iowa’s young people. Student learning goals and activities will extend beyond the traditional classroom to incorporate real-world learning with local connections.  Partnerships may take the form of internships for students,  externships for teachers, facilitated mentoring programs and other off-campus learning opportunities.
  • Non-Formal Education Partners: Museums, libraries, science centers, youth agencies, clubs and other non-formal education entities are powerful partners in the borderless new paradigm for STEM education. Iowa STEM is committed to the idea that STEM fields present vibrant life and career opportunities for all students.  Non-formal partners will help provide bridge programs, tutoring programs, extended school day, and year-round learning, with an emphasis on developing a "STEM identity”.
“Exciting post-secondary majors and certification programs await Iowa’s K-12 graduates,” said Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “These programs set the stage for rewarding STEM careers that fuel lifelong learning and the state’s economy. Redesigned STEM-focused schools will invigorate the pipeline and enhance the fact that STEM education truly ties together all education disciplines.”
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