Jeffrey Weld, Director of the Iowa Mathematics & Science Education Partnership, is directly associated with the Governor's STEM initiative wrote in his article OP-ED: Time for a STEM talk with your kids, which is located on the Governor's STEM Advisory Council website, that "according to an Intel Corporation poll, most parents would rather discuss the dangers of drug abuse than science and math with their teenager." Teaching children about the dangers of drug abuse is important, but Mr. Weld also contends that it is just as important to teach our children about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) because our children's future is directly impacted by STEM. The importance of STEM was the catalyst for a group of teachers, administrators, and community members to apply for a STEM Scale-Up Program through the Iowa STEM Advisory Council. A STEM Festival was held April 7, 2013 at the North Tama Schools. The Tama County Community Foundation (TCCF) is proud to have provided a grant to help fund the festival.
Lisa Chizek, 5th and 6th grade science instructor for the North Tama Community School District, was wandering through the Varied Industry Building at the Iowa State Fair a couple of years ago and saw an exhibit regarding a STEM festival that was going to be held in Coralville. Since Chizek was already convinced of the importance of STEM education by integrating it into her own classroom, she went to Coralville to visit the first STEM Festival held in Iowa.
Chizek thought about how a small rural school could host a STEM Festival. She knew that she couldn't do it alone, but with the help of teachers and administrators from other schools along with community help, she knew it could be done.
The Tama County Family STEM Festival held at North Tama last year targeted preschool through 6th grade and offered hands-on STEM activities. "Students experience how STEM integrates such a wide array of interests and careers and can be really fun!" stated Chizek. The festival had presenters from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), KWWL TV, Hawkeye Community College, the University of Iowa, the Iowa DNR and the Mayo Clinic, to name a few. They showed the students, parents, and community members how engaging and essential hands-on STEM learning is for our children's future.
On March 30th, the second Tama County Family STEM Festival will be hosted by the North Tama Schools. They have a collaborative partnership with the NE Iowa STEM Hub, Belle Plaine, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Garwin-Green Mountain, Meskwaki Settlement School, North Tama, South Tama, and Union-La Porte Schools. People in this innovative Tama County collaboration included the following people from the North Tama and Traer area: Lisa Chizek, 5th and 6th grade science teacher; Josh Youel, Elementary Principal; Bob Cue, Superintendent; and Teresa Keefe O'Meara, Pam Mitchell, and Patti Lorenzen, teachers; Pete Holden, Traer Mayor; Steve Foster and Mark Earley, both Traer community members; Dave Chizek is a Tama County community member. Those individuals from the other schools are the following: Jim Bugge, Principal, South Tama County Elementary (STC); Mary Sherwood, STC Associate Principal, and Joy Schirmer, an STC teacher. Carol Meyer, Meskwaki Settlement School; Jennifer Strohbehn, Gladdbrook-Reinbeck Community Schools; and Gina Miller, Belle Plaine, all teachers, finish out the collaborative team.
Chizek expressed gratitude for the Tama County Community Foundation (TCCF) grant. "Everyone was so supportive and excited about this festival. It was really an important event to bring to our rural county. Collaboration was really important, and the TCCF really helped make an impact. The TCCF grant money was used mainly for promotional materials, advertisements, posters, event bags, brochures, signage, advertising bookmarks for student and the public, and more."
The TCCF is able to assist 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, schools, and governmental entities with grant funding to support qualified programs and projects in Tama County. The TCCF is proud to support the STEM Festival and the children of Tama County. For more information about the TCCF, contact Brian Sokol, Chair of the Tama County Community Foundation, 641-484-2980, or Mary Fasse-Shaw, TCCF's Development Associate at 641-751-5251.