Iowa Lakes Community College Named Math, Science Hub

For many math and science may not be the favorite classes in school.

But Iowa Governor Terry Branstad plans to beef up how those subjects are taught across the state.

Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville has a mission.

"Get some students, more students, excited," said Valerie Newhouse, President of ILCC.

The college was chosen as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math hub, part of Governor Branstad's STEM initiative.

It's about getting students more involved with those harder subjects, using different approaches to teaching and different class structures and coursework to prepare those students to work in a global economy.

"Today's jobs simply demand it," said Mark Gruwell, Executive Dean of Instruction and Development at ILCC. "If we release students into the workforce without having the necessary foundation in science and math, we're not going to be able to get those students higher paying jobs."

Supporters hope this new excitement stretches across the state.

Iowa Lakes is one of six hubs that will make sure all education centers, even high schools, are on the same page and getting involved with STEM work.

"Teaching is different today than it was 20 years ago and we need to teach to the students of today and we need to establish programs for the students of today," said Newhouse.

So how do you generate that interest?

Some of it comes by changing the way classes are taught. These days it's not enough to just stand in front of the class, spout information, and hope it sticks.

"It's got to be more functional for the students than really informational," said Dr. Bob Klepper, Professor of Chemistry and Science at ILCC.

That function could come from "flipped" classrooms.

Students study the material on their own, at their own pace and come back to class with their own questions.

It's a technique that helps solve another question that's been bugging teachers for a long time.

"How do you pull students in and make them feel like they're part of the course rather than just learning from this computer screen?" said Klepper.

As Iowa Lakes gets students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

It's too early to tell the total cost of the program, but the college president said the cost will be split 50/50 with the state.

You shouldn't have to wait long to see changes taking place, some of the program will be up and running by this fall.