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Officials laud new STEM program

BY LILY ABROMEIT | DECEMBER 13, 2013 5:00 AM

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In an effort to aid students in reaching a more successful future, a public-awareness campaign was released earlier this week to encourage greater participation in science, technology, engineering, and math courses.

Initiated by Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration, the new program is designed to raise awareness around opportunities available to students through STEM.

The campaign, according to a press release, will include public-service announcements, a new brand and logo, billboard messages, and statewide and local events.

“We look forward to rolling out our new brand to students, families, educators, corporate partners, and others in the coming weeks because we believe all interested parties will connect with the idea that greatness STEMs from Iowans,” Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who a co-head of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, said in a press release. “The new logo leverages the STEM acronym and prominently ties it with our state’s roots, which is important because STEM is a vital economic-development advantage for Iowa.”

Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, said she thinks programs such as this are important because those are the areas that need more workers.

“I certainly think it’ll help students identify careers early on,” said Sinclair, who serves on the Education Committee. “Careers that are really in demand in Iowa and across the nation.”

Citing a recent visit to a local company, she said she was not impressed with the level of knowledge about STEM, adding people must be aware for it to be effective.

“Awareness comes in at the individual level, where they know that’s the direction they need to go,” she said.

City High Principal John Bacon said he has seen increasing involvement in these programs over the years.

“We have a thriving STEM program … and we have many opportunities for students to take STEM,” he said.

Although he said these classes “enjoy a growing enrollment,” Bacon said he would still like to see a strong push toward the classes.

“It’s certainly something guidance counselors and teachers work to help students understand and … we strive to help students understand STEM careers,” he said. “Students who are taking advantage of STEM-related classes are receiving a transformative education in a relevant field that will help them prepare for STEM related career paths in their future.”

Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said he is pleased with the new initiative to draw more attention to STEM, although he said this is just the first step.

“The challenge is going to be ‘how do we initiate it in our public schools and private schools to touch everyone,’ ” he said.

For this to happen, he said, this initiative must be a cornerstone for more awareness to come.

“We’ll have to show some guts and actually fund the initiative, get past the awareness and work with every student to have STEM in their background,” he said.


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