We are excited by the news from the Iowa Governor’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Advisory Council that the Charles City, New Hampton, Osage, and Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School Districts have been awarded a $25,000 STEM BEST (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) grant to enhance project-based and profession-based learning for our students.
Collaboration and Creativity are two of the super skills for the 21st century. I am proud of the collaboration among our four school districts to creatively figure out how to expand learning opportunities for our students and strengthen the partnerships with our amazing business partners here in Floyd, Mitchell, & Chickasaw Counties.
The $25,000 dollar STEM BEST grant from the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and the $40,000 dollars of in-kind support from our business partners will allow us to establish a North Iowa expansion of the Iowa BIG (Big Ideas Group) program in Cedar Rapids. At its core, the Iowa BIG program taps into students’ passion to engage them in authentic community projects and connect them with local businesses.
Through the use of technology, the T in STEM, students in Charles City, New Hampton, Osage, and Rockford will be able to engage in the same types of project-based learning experiences at their own high schools while they collaborate with peers in the consortium, in Cedar Rapids, or both.
Charles City High School students currently have numerous STEM class options from which to choose. Students in our Exploring Science Careers class research and explore a broad range of careers and engage in field trips and job shadowing experiences. They are doing exactly what these four school districts are looking to expand on — cooperating with local businesses so that students can enhance their core learning while learning about possible careers.
These students are getting authentic experiences that will benefit them as they determine their career paths. This is also good news for local STEM businesses, knowing that students are interested in returning home to Northeast Iowa to the STEM possibilities available right here in their own back yard.
Students in our Agriculture classes are flying drones, a unique experience that isn’t available in many Iowa school districts. Industrial Technology students have partnered with Mitas Tires on two different projects in the past six months. STEM is important in Charles City and our students know that for many of them, their future lies in STEM careers.
Charles City, New Hampton, Osage, and Rockford high school students also will have the opportunity to take part in profession-based learning on-site at one or more of our business partners, spending a trimester or semester exploring STEM careers while also earning high school, and potentially college credit, just as students do in the Waukee APEX (Advanced Professional Experiences) program in suburban Des Moines and the Northland CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) program in suburban Kansas City.
We believe that this STEM BEST grant is a game-changer for education in North Iowa. It reinforces for the rest of the state that students in rural Iowa school districts, like Charles City, New Hampton, Osage, and Rockford, can, and do, receive a world-class education.
BIG cooperation among our schools certainly has landed BEST opportunities for our students and area businesses.