Pre-Service Teacher STEM Conference - April 8-9, 2022

About the Conference

  • Two days of keynote, breakout and workshop sessions led by state and national leaders in STEM education. 

  • Sessions specific to elementary and secondary level education 

  • Panel presentations, including STEM Teacher of the Year award winners for elementary and secondary education

  • Sessions on early childhood, ELL and computer science in STEM

  • Live field trips ... also offered virtually! 

  • Hands-on sessions live and virtual at UNI and co-hosting sites 

  • Group engineering challenge

  • Networking opportunities with STEM faculty from across the state, current K-12 STEM teachers and administrators

  • Materials and resources for participating students

Who should attend

This conference is open to all pre-service teacher education students at colleges and universities across Iowa, as well as interested faculty.  

Co-Hosting Sites

Choose to attend the conference virtually via Zoom or attend in-person at one of the co-hosting sites for more networking opportunities and a more fully-engaged experience. Co-hosting sites are:

  • ‌University of Northern Iowa
  • University of Iowa
  • Iowa State University
  • Clarke University
  • Waldorf University
  • Dordt University
  • Luther College

Sponsors plan an engaging two days, complete with door prizes, raffles and prizes for a final, end-of-conference game.


Keynote Speakers

Jeff Weld
Jeff Weld

Overview on the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council and the impact the STEM Council has had on PreK-12 educators throughout the state of Iowa.

Jeff Weld, Ph.D. is Executive Director for the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council, a post he's occupied since its launch in 2011. Additionally, Jeff recently completed 21 months of national service as STEM Education Policy Advisor for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to lead the production of America's Strategic Plan for STEM Education, a five-year plan spanning 2019 to 2023.

Dr. Weld's 2017 book Creating a STEM Culture for Teaching and Learning (NSTA Press) informed the national plan by comprehensively examining all aspects of the U.S. STEM movement, highlighting best practices and lessons learned. His practically-accumulated and empirically backed insights on programs and policies (and pitfalls to avoid) that advance STEM education are frequently sought out by regional, state, and national organizations. In 2014, the Triangle Coalition bestowed upon Jeff the STEM Champion award, and in 2013 the University of Iowa recognized Weld with the College of Education's Yager Alumni Accomplishment Honor.

He is on extended leave from a faculty position in the Department of Biology at the University of Northern Iowa, where he was named National Collegiate Biology Teacher of The Year for four-year institutions by the NABT in 2007. Over the course of twenty years in higher education at Oklahoma State University and at UNI, Jeff secured $5 million in grant funding, published the methods textbook The Game of Science Education (Allyn & Bacon), and authored over seventy peer-reviewed research articles, essays, and book chapters on science education research and policy. His latest book on charting a national course for STEM education is due to publish in March, 2021. Through the 1990s Jeff taught secondary science in Texas, Missouri, and Iowa. Today Jeff consults and writes on STEM education, serving on several state and national boards and commissions including the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Education Foundation.

Samantha Dahlby
‌Samantha Dahlby

The Educational Buffet: Why Computer Science should be on your plate

The momentum of K–12 Computer Science education has been steadily increasing for the past several years, and with states like Iowa requiring implementation, districts are working to figure out what that looks like for them. Learn more about what is happening in a variety of districts right now, and what that can mean for your first job in education

Samantha Dahlby is a recovering software engineer with passions for public transportation, kids, and technology. She currently works at the New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo), a nonprofit in Cedar Rapids, as the Director of K–12 Education. Samantha promotes and supports K–12 computer science education in Iowa, oversees NewBoCo’s K–12 programs for students and educators, and tries to find as much time as possible to play with technology and kids. Most recently, she has been working with districts to support their implementation of the Iowa Computer Science Standards in ways that best serve their students. Samantha also has two young daughters, and has learned to enjoy watching them tear apart most things in the name of curiosity.

Chris Cournoyer
Iowa Senator Chris Cournoyer

Why Teaching STEM is Awesome and Matters to Student Success

Senator Cournoyer is a member of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Council; and a member of Southeast Iowa STEM Advisory Board to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math across the state; she is a mentor for Iowa Girls Code and facilitated “Hour of Code” for over 500 elementary students; she has served as a coach for FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr.; and she was named “Iowa Women of Innovation – STEM Champion” by the Technology Association of Iowa.


For more information, contact Dana Atwood-Blaine,, 319-273-2073.