Iowa S.T.E.M. Teacher Award Winner Announced!

The Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council and Kemin Industries have announced the recipients of the 2018 I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award sponsored by Kemin Industries!

For the past four years, Kemin Industries of Des Moines has sponsored the I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher award to recognize teachers who inspire students to excel in STEM.  This award recognizes and celebrates one teacher from each of the six STEM regions who goes above and  beyond to increase their student's interest in STEM. Each recipient is recognized for their dedication in representing I.O.W.A.; by being Innovative in their methods, Outstanding in their passion for education, Worldly in the way they help students see that STEM is all around them, and Academic through engaging students in the classroom to prepare them for higher education and high-demand careers. This year, the Southeast STEM region's honoree is Cassidy Reinken, a Magnet Coordinator at Johnson STEAM Academy (JSA) in Cedar Rapids. Ms. Reinken's goal is to inspire and encourage teachers to become more engaged in STEM subjects and careers through cross-curricular connections. She works with students and teachers through professional learning, coaching conversations, co-planning and co-teaching of STEM lessons. Ms. Reinken also supports the writing and implementation of all STEAM curriculum that aligns with the Iowa's academic standards and led the rework of this year's final curriculum map at JSA.   

From her previous experience as an art teacher, she loves to incorporate art into her STEM lessons and one of her favorite projects has been the Makey Makey Op Art, which is focused on teaching students that energy can be transferred in a variety of ways and how math is used in designing optical illusions. This lesson uses the computer-based Makey Makey invention kit that turns objects into a touchpad. Students studied Op Art movement and learned the role of math in optical illusions through this program.

Ms. Reinken sits on and leads many committees in the Cedar Rapids Community School District. She facilitates continued professional learning for JSA teachers, and was a member of the CRCSD's Theory of Action Task Force, Teacher Leadership System Task Force, and School Improvement Advisory Committee. She acts as the voice for STEM integration, personalization and innovation in all these groups. Her blog "rethink + innovate" pushes fellow educators to think creatively about the future of education. She holds monthly conversations about a specific topic/concept in education and invites fellow innovative educators to speak. 

Ms. Reinken holds five Discovery Days throughout the year at JSA, where students learn in cross-grade age groupings on a select topic, such as 3D printing, building/construction, coding or Makey Makey art. She was awarded a Governor's STEM Advisory Council Scale-Up Program called ST Math in JSA's first year as a magnet school, and she has helped secure funding to sustain the usage of this program for the past two years.

Each I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award recipient was selected by a panel of judges after being nominated for the award by a colleague, school administrator, parent, student or community member and completing an application showcasing their contributions to STEM education. Each recipient will receive $1,500 for personal use and another $1,500 for their classroom.

Reinken and the other five recipients have each been honored with ceremonies in their classrooms with their students and peers, and will also be recognized together at STEM Day at the Capitol, with Gov. and STEM Council Co-Chair Kim Reynolds and a representative from Kemin Industries the morning of Wednesday, February 14th. For more information about the award and all current and previous recipients, please visit