STEM Education Goes Virtual
University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools, colleges, organizations, and businesses to close, University of Iowa Health Care STEM Education programs—who typically engage 17,000+ K-12 students annually through 150 on-site and statewide programs—needed to respond quickly to keep kids engaged. Programming that includes STEM education, career exploration, health literacy, and health and wellness activities, needed to be completely restructured from in-person, hands-on education to virtual interactive programming and resources. The Marketing and Communications Outreach and Engagement team, who manages STEM programs, quickly worked together to assess current tools available, brainstorm ideas, and create low-cost, easily accessible virtual resources, including STEM activity and career exploration videos, activity sheets for download, and “STEMinar” webinars featuring faculty and staff. New and existing STEM resources were added to our high traffic UI Health Care COVID-19 toolkit web page. Resources were emailed to partners, teachers, and parents utilizing monthly newsletters and listservs to reach our audiences across the region. We utilized our major social media channels for a robust social push. Virtual programming provided a sustainable option for a post-COVID world with minimal expense, and potential to reach a larger, more diverse audience.
What was the most impactful part of your award-winning entry?
The transition to virtual programming allowed us to immensely broaden our reach and reduce the burden on families and educators to find educational resources while “edutaining” K-12 students during a time they needed it most.
What is one thing you learned from this experience?
The value and benefit of great collaboration and teamwork allowing for cross-training to tap into experts in our department, and thinking creatively to utilize current resources and tools to produce virtual content quickly and affordably.
What challenge did you overcome?
The need to completely restructure and implement our STEM Education program content and experiences from in-person to virtual while continuing to align with our institutional goals, mission and values, and to do so in two weeks.
Emily Strattan, firstname.lastname@example.org