Empowering High-Ability Middle School Students in STEM

Excellence map, UI, all schools11 rural schools in Iowa have been selected to participate in a rigorous extracurricular math and science enrichment program offered through the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.

The three-year program is aimed at empowering high-ability, middle-school students living in rural school districts across the state with challenging opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The STEM Excellence and Leadership program will provide year-round programming for educators and an estimated 120 students per year and includes professional development, materials, services, stipends for participating educators, and other support. The program was made possible through a $500,000 Talent Development Award the Belin-Blank Center received from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the nation’s largest scholarship foundation.

This program ensures that rural school districts in Iowa have the opportunity to provide rigorous courses in math and science, fostering the development of Iowa’s academic talent, especially in STEM.

NSE_badgeBy expanding mathematics and science curricula in participating school districts and enhancing teachers’ abilities to raise the academic rigor in their classrooms, STEM Excellence is expected to help close the achievement gap between rural students and their urban counterparts.

The program is designed to improve student outcomes in middle school STEM courses, prepare participants for success and boost their enrollment in Advanced Placement (AP) math and science courses in high school.  Ultimately, STEM Excellence will prepare students academically and social-emotionally for advanced coursework, which will prepare them for university life.

The schools selected to participate in this program are:

  • ADM Community School District—ADM Middle School
  • Atlantic Community School District—Atlantic Middle School
  • Cardinal Community School District—Cardinal Middle School
  • Chariton Community School District—Chariton Middle School
  • Davis County Community School District—Davis County Middle School
  • Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont Community School District—Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont Junior/Senior High
  • Fort Dodge Community School District—Fort Dodge Middle School
  • Graettinger-Terril Community School District—Graettinger-Terril Middle School
  • Mount Pleasant Community School District—Mount Pleasant Community Middle School
  • Spencer Community Schools—Spencer Middle School
  • Starmont Community School District—Starmont Middle School

The eleven selected schools are across Iowa, with at least one in each of the six regions of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.

For more information, please visit www.belinblank.org/excellence or contact Dr. Lori Ihrig at lori-ihrig@uiowa.edu.

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