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Sioux Center Public School partners with Dordt College to use their STEM grant

October 31, 2013

The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council has named Sioux Center High School as the recipient of a $50,000 district-matched award to implement a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classroom. Sioux Center High School was one of four recipients chosen from a group of 23 applications submitted earlier this summer.

Building on a longstanding tradition of collaboration, Sioux Center High School proposed a partnership with Dordt College. The proposal includes plans for redesigned learning spaces and curriculum in partnership with the college. Working together will allow SCCSD and Dordt to share costs, to partner in professional development, and to better evaluate new technologies and teaching strategies.

The grant will support a redesigned classroom in the media center at Sioux Center Middle/High School and a parallel STEM classroom at Dordt College, with video-conferencing capabilities linking the classrooms to each other and the online world. The grant will also fund statistics education training for SCCSD teachers, to be led by a Dr. Nathan Tintle, a nationally recognized Dordt College statistics professor. Additionally, it will support professional development for SCCSD faculty to consult with experienced college personnel on best practices for teaching with technology and for STEM education. Areas such as statistics, agriculture, chemistry, engineering, and computer sciences will benefit from connected classrooms, and the proposed video conferencing capabilities will also increase opportunities for dual enrollment courses where high school students are able to take college courses for college credit. 

The other schools receiving grants are Davenport Community School District, Hoover High School of the Des Moines Community School District, and Mount Pleasant Middle School. Initially, only three schools were to be funded, but a fourth grant was funded thanks to contributions from Des Moines Area Community College, DMG Mori Seike/Ellison Technologies, Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Kemin, Kinze Manufacturing, Inc., Pella Rolscreen Foundation, University of Iowa, and Vermeer Charitable Foundation, Inc. Each school will serve as a model for other schools around the state.

These schools serve various populations in Iowa, both urban and rural in large and small communities. 

“The broad cross section of these recipients speaks to the importance of innovative STEM education in the state of Iowa,” Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds said. “As the diversity of Iowa increases, both in the classroom and in the workforce, so does the need to educate students of all geographic, demographic and ethnic groups. The STEM learning environments will bring that focus in four model classrooms.”

Selected schools have in common a commitment to transform the learning space in three ways: (1) An altered physical and technological space that empowers learners to investigate and collaborate; (2) An innovative curricular and pedagogical approach that frames the teacher as a facilitator and students as real-world problem solvers working in groups across disciplinary boundaries; and (3) Connections to the world beyond the school walls through partnerships with business and industry.

“These schools are an example to the future of STEM education in Iowa,” said Mary Andringa, Advisory Council Co-Chair and Vermeer Corporation President and CEO. “With the combination of powerful community partnerships and relevant curriculum, the STEM learning environments will prepare students for their next steps in college and the workforce.”
Implementation of the four redesigned STEM learning environments will begin in spring 2014.

About the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council: Formed in 2011, the Council is a 46-member, public-private partnership dedicated to building a strong STEM education foundation for all Iowans. For more information, go to www.IowaSTEM.gov.

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