August 21, 2018 Academics

Loess Hills inspires new state STEM program

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced Monday that a local elementary school was the inspiration for her newest STEM project.

Gov. Reynolds and Roger Hargens, CEO of Accumold, co-chairs of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, announced a project to launch six innovative computer science elementary schools. The six high-poverty schools will be competitively selected to transform existing buildings with engaging computer science instruction. This will create more opportunity for their students, including real-life work experiences with area employers. It also will establish a network of computer science expertise as a resource for all public and non-public elementary schools across the state.

Loess Hills Computer Science Elementary School in Sioux City is the inspiration for the Computer Science is Elementary project. The district pioneered one of the first computer science elementary schools in the nation in 2015 when Loess Hills started teaching computational thinking and other skills, such as problem solving and teamwork. Loess Hills will serve as a blueprint for the project, which aligns with the Future Ready Iowa initiative to prepare more Iowans for rewarding, high-demand jobs.

“Computer science is a new basic skill in the 21st century,” Gov. Reynolds said. “It is critical to build a strong foundation early so students are ready for outstanding career opportunities in a technology-driven economy. These are Iowa jobs that pay well with a lot of potential for growth.”

“The computer science workforce shortage that employers face will grow unless we accelerate computer science instruction in K-12 schools,” Hargens said. “Many more jobs will require at least some computer science in the future, even if they are not strictly IT positions.”

Gary Scholten, executive vice president and chief digital and information officer at Principal Financial Group, is leading corporate engagement and support for the project. The campaign is working to raise $450,000 from the private sector by December 2018.

View the full story from KCAU
by Kristen Hahn