Teacher Professional Development


Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Curriculum Resources


Business and K-12

Partnership Models

STEM Innovator is…

Professional Development for teachers and administrators who want to infuse innovation, invention and entrepreneurship into their schools by working with business and industry community partners. STEM Innovator prepares teachers to have their students work in teams employing an entrepreneurial mindset and innovative thinking to solve authentic, community-driven, real-world problems.

STEM Innovator students identify a problem of interest, verify and validate the problem through customer discovery, and establish and implement a solution.

Engaging Students, Educators and Community Partners

To Solve Real-World Problems

Through Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Prepares students for the 21st Century

Over 50 STEM business and industry partners worked alongside educators to identify these essential skills necessary for the next generation of students to thrive in a global economy.

Our Teachers Are Saying…

Susan Weaver

STEM Innovator is the most valuable, practical, and transformative professional development I have experienced in over 20 years of teaching.

Susan WeaverMonticello High School, Monticello, Iowa
Greg Smith

In my nine years as a teacher, I have never seen anything like STEM Innovator. The collaboration modeled through this program is the type of model that needs to be taught in Colleges of Education across the Nation. The University of Iowa needs to embrace this model and lead the nation in teacher education reform by having teachers collaborate across the hallway, building, and through other disciplines.

Greg SmithDavenport West High School, Davenport, Iowa
Kelly Carr

STEM Innovator was an eye-opener for me. I think the design process will be a process that my own students will love!

Kelly CarrLewis Central Middle School, Council Bluffs, Iowa
Hannah Haarhues-Casey

STEM Innovator opened my eyes to terminology, processes to follow, and search techniques, while transforming what we are going to teach into very real and exceptionally innovative ideas.

Hannah Haarhues-CaseyLewis Central Middle School, Council Bluffs, Iowa
Reagan Boeset

“I am a firm believer that experiences lead to learning, and I can’t believe that I get paid to try to create awesome experiences for my students. The University of Iowa’s STEM Innovator has been the best training program I was given the opportunity to participate in.  STEM Innovator training has allowed me to learn new strategies and methods for creating valuable experiences for my STEM students.”

Reagan BoesetClear Creek Amana, Oxford, Iowa

Our Business Partners Are Saying…

Steve Davis

Students learn how to collaborate, solve problems, work in teams, and be more innovative- these are the skills I want in my employees.

Steve DavisPresident of Bio::Neos
Laurie Worden

We believe in a vibrant community with a workforce ready for a changing and challenging world.  Our next generation of the workforce will benefit immensely  from the  STEM Innovator  program as students are able  to grow their ideas and solutions to challenges in our world and workforce both in the classroom and in the world of work.  Workplace Learning Connection , as a department of Kirkwood Community College,  is excited to join forces with  the STEM Innovator team and students to assist with the work-based learning needs of this  visionary program.

Laurie WordenWorkplace Learning Connection
Beth Hochstedler

STEM Innovator is a win-win. Students become more aware of the careers they want to pursue with fulfilling work they are interested in, while businesses gain a new perspective on a project.

Beth HochstedlerState Hygienic Laboratory, Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council
David Hensley

Innovation and technology are what’s driving new company formation. In Iowa, 86% of companies have fewer than 20 employees, so this is a very small-business dominated state. Students who have technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation skill sets are well positioned to pursue any career path they choose. We’re very excited to be a part of STEM Innovator, working alongside teachers and community partners on what we can accomplish collectively in our schools, at the university level, and at the state level to assist students. Ultimately, we’re all here to make a better educated populace and create an economic environment in the state so our young people will stay here and prosper.

David HensleyExecutive Director of JPEC and UI Associate Vice President for Economic Development

Our Students Are Saying…

Michael Abdo

The value of STEM Innovator is undeniable. The experiences you gain through the STEM Innovation Institute it is incredible. You have the opportunity to improve yourself in endless areas, and here are just a few of mine: personal growth, hands on involvement with technology, social skills that create long lasting friendships with both peers and mentors, and practice with public speaking.

Michael AbdoIowa City West High School, Iowa City, Iowa
Bennett Robertson

The STEM Innovation Institute has helped me to realize that a career in technology is more achievable than I had ever dreamed, and I don’t even have to work for a large company to make it happen. Starting your own business only takes a great idea and some friends with dedication and drive. I made so many friends and contacts that once the business model is solidified, we will be steps ahead of any other competing teams. It was a blast, and I encourage anyone interested to give it a shot.

Bennett RobertsonDavenport North High School, Davenport, Iowa
Featured Model
Building strength
Meaningful work
21st century skills