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.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds laugh with others after a question from one of the students at Fisher Elementary School Wednesday.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Fisher Elementary School students from left, Hayden Walsh, Desiree McDowell and Carter Nunn take part in a chemistry experiment with Marshalltown High School teacher Erica Malloy during a STEM forum Wednesday at Fisher.
"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.
Student questions provide laughs
A question and answer session Wednesday saw Fisher Elementary School students grill Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, which provided some lighthearted moments.
Both were asked their ages by the students. Branstad said he's 67 but he works out regularly to keep his energy up. Reynolds had to think but then she responded that she's 54.
Third grader Hayden Walsh had this question for Branstad: "Who do you like better the Cyclones or the Hawkeyes?"
"That's a trick question," Branstad said. "I like them both."
A student asked if Branstad was married and he responded he and his wife Chris will celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary on June 17.
Student Desiree McDowell asked the pair how they think this STEM "will play out in the end." That prompted a hug from Reynolds for McDowell for having such an insightful question.
One student asked Branstad what his duties are as governor and another asked if he "gets free stuff" on the job. Branstad quickly said that there is a gift law in Iowa that limits how much he can receive, which is $2.99.
- ANDREW POTTER
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.