Branstad, Reynolds talk STEM at Fisher school

Two special guests visited Fisher Elementary School Wednesday and applauded the effort Marshalltown has put forth on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiative.

Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds spoke to a crowded media center at the school which featured students, local business leaders and area residents.

Both are proponents for STEM to help match Iowa’s youth to the jobs of the future.

“You are truly leading the way in the state of Iowa on this critical STEM issue,” Branstad said. “This community is doing a lot of exciting things.”

The event also featured some demonstrations of STEM in action led by Marshalltown High School teachers and featuring MHS and Fisher students.

MHS started Project Lead the Way last fall and has nearly 20 percent of its students taking classes in engineering or biomedical sciences.

“That’s phenomenal,” Reynolds said.

Statewide, enrollment in STEM classes has gone from 40,000 students last year to more than 100,000 this year, Reynolds said.

“It’s made a big difference in this very short period of time,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said STEM is key for building long-lasting successful careers in the state.

“We know that a first-rate STEM education is the ticket to a promising future,” Reynolds said.

Local STEM initiative leader Paul Gregoire of Emerson/Fisher, said programs like STEM help the United States succeed in a global economy.

“It’s up to you folks to not let (other countries) catch up to us,” Gregoire said.

The event wrapped up with a question and answer session featuring questions from the students. After the event, the governor said he loved seeing the enthusiasm from the Fisher students.

“We need to continue to encourage and support them,” Branstad said.

Fisher Principal Vicki Vopava called it an honor and a privilege to have Branstad and Reynolds visit the school.

This town hall meeting is the second in a series of six STEM meetings being held by Branstad and Reynolds in the state.