Skip to main content
3 min read

Scaling-up STEM across Iowa

For Immediate Release

INDIANAPOLIS (December 3, 2013) – Project Lead The Way (PLTW) was selected as one of nine science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs by the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council for wide-spread implementation throughout the state.

The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council distributed over $3 million in grant dollars to schools, museums, and other educational entities to implement one of the selected STEM programs. Of that total, over $260,000 went to PLTW, and as a result, 35 middle schools across Iowa implemented PLTW’s Gateway To Technology (GTT) program for the 2013-14 school year. The grant provided each school with five VEX Robotics kits and also paid for 39 teachers to attend and complete PLTW’s Core Training professional development program, which is required by PLTW for each course a teacher instructs. The majority of the newly trained teachers attended training at Iowa State University’s College of Engineering, which is an affiliate partner of PLTW.

The Council’s priority is starting quality STEM programs in areas of the state that have the most need. The 35 middle schools implementing PLTW this school year serve more than 9,000 middle school students. The schools range from rural (80%), to suburban (3%), to urban (11%) and large (756 total students) to small (28 total students). The schools are spread over all six Iowa regions and represent 34 different school districts. Many of these schools have implemented the GTT program as exploratory courses that all students are required to take as part of their standard curriculum.

“The PLTW Gateway To Technology program has increased student engagement, excitement and learning at St. Theresa,” said Ellen Stemler, principal of St. Theresa Catholic School, one of the schools awarded the grant. “The students love working with the design software and can’t wait to get to STEM and dive deeper into their learning! Everyone at St. Theresa Catholic School is thrilled with the unlimited learning opportunities available for our young people through PLTW GTT. This really is a gift that will keep on giving for a lifetime.

PLTW has a long history in Iowa. The first school to offer PLTW did so in 2005, and today, 220 schools offer at least one of PLTW’s four programs of study – PLTW Launch for students in kindergarten through fifth grade; GTT for students in grades six through eight; and Biomedical Sciences and Pathway To Engineering for high school students.

”The national reputation for excellence so well-earned by Project Lead The Way makes the program a natural partner in Iowa’s STEM Council effort to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, “We could not possibly change the course of history within our state without the outstanding programs of PLTW and our other scale-up partners.”

PLTW’s success in Iowa has been, in part, to the collaborative network of corporate and post-secondary partners engaged in supporting PLTW programs in schools throughout Iowa, as well as the generous support of several key corporate and philanthropic partners. Collectively, Bemis Company, Cargill, John Deere, and the Kern Family Foundation have committed $3.6 million to support PLTW in Iowa schools.

PLTW will continue to be a change agent in Iowa thanks to the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council’s selection of PLTW as a STEM scale-up program. PLTW looks forward to a continued partnership with the Governor’s Office and schools throughout Iowa to provide high-quality STEM education for all students.

“Project Lead The Way commends Governor Branstad’s STEM Advisory Council for its commitment to making STEM education programs available to more Iowa students,” said PLTW President and CEO Dr. Vince Bertram. “Access to high-quality STEM education is absolutely critical to solving America’s workforce development skills gap. PLTW is proud to partner with the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council to provide PLTW’s world-class, activity-, project-, and problem-based curriculum to Iowa’s students. Together, we can make a difference in preparing students for the global economy.”


About PLTW

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the nation’s leading provider of STEM programs. PLTW’s world-class, activity-, project-, and problem-based curriculum and high-quality teacher professional development model, combined with an engaged network of educators and corporate partners, help students develop the skills needed to succeed in our global economy. More than 5,200 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are currently offering PLTW courses to their students. For more information, visit