For many of us spring means an urge to push aside the dreary winter days by looking forward to gardening. In addition to perusing seed catalogs and visiting garden centers, we also begin clearing debris from flower beds, trimming trees, and inspecting plant stems for new growth.
In education, we think about STEMs of another variety. Our STEMs are an acronym for academics and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The demand for more workers in STEM fields is abuzz throughout the U.S., and Marshalltown Community College is nurturing our students into STEM fields. Our highly qualified faculty in our biology, chemistry, and mathematics departments teaches our bright students, who will transfer into STEM majors at the universities. Our experienced and committed faculty in our advanced manufacturing and technology programs trains students in preparation for immediate careers in the high-tech industries in our region.
Another way we have enriched our students' STEM opportunities is through partnerships with other colleges and organizations including:
The IINspire Alliance facilitates an MCC partnership with other colleges to offer STEM faculty professional development through a mentoring network, legislative advocacy, and increased student enrollment in STEM coursework through the development of inclusive instructional strategies. MCC faculty have created a student STEM co-curricular group that shares information about opportunities across the state.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant is a three-year partnership between MCC and ISU to recruit underrepresented minority students into STEM fields. Part of this experience places MCC students with ISU faculty in science labs for a paid summer experience doing research and working with the latest technology. Last year nine MCC students participated and a new crop will be working on science projects this summer.
MCC has one of the longest relationships with First Lego League in the state of Iowa. Each December 35-40 teams of middle school-aged students compete in this day-long STEM-connected activity hosted at the college.
MCC is partnering with Marshalltown, West Marshall, Grinnell-Newburg, and South Tama school districts to support and enhance their Project Lead the Way pre-engineering and biomedical programs. Students enrolled in PLTW pre-engineering courses at their local high school have an opportunity to earn MCC credit.
Just like our gardens, STEM education is growing and MCC is cultivating our students' experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
Robin Lilienthal is Provost of Marshalltown Community College