Iowa Includes FIRST in Groundbreaking Legislation to Promote Student STEM Learning

$4.7 million Iowa initiative viewed as model for nation; showcases FIRST ® Tech Challenge and FIRST ® LEGO® League 

DES MOINES, Iowa, IOWA CITY, Iowa, and MANCHESTER, N.H., Sept. 6, 2012 — Iowa Gov. Terry E. Brandstad will be joined by leaders of Iowa’s higher education and FIRST ® to launch a groundbreaking program that sets aside $4.7 million for schools and community groups in the state to engage students in hands-on programs that promote science, technology engineering, and math (STEM).

The state of Iowa has committed $4.7 million to growing 12 exemplary STEM educational programs, based on their proven ability to stimulate interest and impact students' achievement in STEM-related topics.  FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) and FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®), both FIRST programs, are two of these 12 hands-on programs selected by the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, distributed via six STEM regions, assuring access to all Iowa students for little or no cost to the school or after-school programming organization. The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is a public-private partnership whose overarching goal is creating greater student achievement in STEM subjects and a stronger STEM workforce in Iowa.

“Iowa is leading the country in fully enabling STEM education,” said Dean Kamen, FIRST founder and President of DEKA Research & Development Corporation. “The proven formula of utilizing hands-on learning programs to spark math and science education in the classroom places Iowa squarely in the position of being a leader and a model for the entire nation.”

According to Change the Equation’s STEM Vital Signs, jobs in STEM are expected to grow by 16 percent this decade in Iowa (57,830 jobs in 2008 to 67,330 by 2018). Currently, there are 42 other states considering similar STEM legislation.

“It is critical to provide Iowa’s students with a world-class education, which means emphasizing the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields,” said Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. “As co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, it’s about growing jobs, closing the achievement gap and inspiring students to embrace STEM fields to that they can take charge of their future.”

To mark the event, “A Celebration of STEM and FIRST in Iowa”  will be held at 10 a.m. Central Time on Sept. 8 at the Iowa Memorial Union, 125 N. Madison St., Iowa City, Iowa. The event will include remarks from Kamen; Branstad; Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds; Ken Johnson, Acting Chief Programs Officer, FIRST; Sally Mason, President, University of Iowa; Ben Allen, President, University of Northern Iowa; Steven Leath, President, Iowa State University; and J.P. Besong, Senior Vice President, Rockwell Collins. The event will be followed by a live regional Kickoff of the 2012-2013 FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) season. 

About FIRST®  
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and nearly $15 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S., Canada, and Mexico) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to

FIRST®, the FIRST® logo, FIRST® Tech Challenge and FTC®, are registered trademarks of the United States Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®). FIRST® LEGO® League and FLL® are jointly held trademarks of FIRST and The LEGO Group.

©2012 FIRST and The LEGO Group. All rights reserved. 


Media Contacts:

Dennis Garrigan, FIRST
Ph. 603-206-2454 
Jeff Weld, Governor’s STEM Advisory Council
Ph. 319-273-2723