Education & Schools
First-year seminars teach big topics to small classes PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Hawkeye Caucus   
Sunday, 09 September 2012 13:08

Contemporary Topics in Finance.  Molecular Gastronomy.  The Energy Future.  What do these topics have in common?  They were all subjects of a first-year seminar.  


First year seminars are designed to help students make the transition to college-level learning through active participation in their own learning.  These classes are taught by faculty members to a small group (fewer than 20) of first-year students.  Faculty members choose the theme of the seminar because it’s related to their research, it’s something that’s always fascinated them, or it provides a glimpse into their academic area.

Students can learn about being a doctor, what it takes to be a math or science teacher, or the roots of terrorism.  On average, the classes meet one a week for 50 minutes, and grades are based on participation and short assignments. 


Students who have taken first-year seminars say that they’d recommend them to others because they got to meet students with similar interests and got to know a faculty member one-on-one. Here are comments from two of them:

  • “It is very nice to be in a small class with a teacher who is truly passionate about what they are teaching.”
  • “This class is by far my  favorite this semester.  Every class we learn about something new and very interesting … The assignments are very relevant and applicable to life outside of the class.  I wish it was more than once a week!”

Sport for the Mind: Robotics Program Expanding Globally & Locally PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Brittany Marietta   
Sunday, 09 September 2012 12:14

Students around the world are discovering it’s more fun to design a robot than it is to play with one – and having the hardest fun they’ve ever had!  FIRST Lego League (FLL), a national robotics program, has experienced dramatic growth since its inception in 1998.  In FLL, student teams design and program an autonomous robot using the Lego Mindstorms set and create a solution to a real-world scientific problem.  Teams compete in regional qualifiers by completing tasks with their robot on a thematic playing surface, then advance to state competitions and, if lucky, the World Festival (regions are selected by lottery for the World Festival). 

2011-12 Rivermont FLL Team - Putnam Competition.JPG

FLL helps young people discover the fun in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as they work to solve real-world problems using robotics.  FLL participants are 50 percent more likely to attend college and twice as likely to major in science or engineering.  More than that, FLL fosters teamwork and leadership – the program has even coined several terms.  Dr. Woodie Flowers,FIRST National Advisor, created the term “Gracious Professionalism” – a way of doing things that emphasizes respect and that competition and mutual gain are not separate notions.  Actually, FLL teams don’t “compete” – they participate in “Coopertition,” displaying respect in the face of fierce competition and cooperating with each other.  A parent testimonial puts it best, that “being bright is not the same as leadership.”

As the program grows, so does the impact.  FLL 2011 featured 19,800 teams from over 50 countries.  2011 regional qualifiers took place not only in the Quad Cities, but also Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Ottumwa, Sioux City, Marshalltown, and Solon.  Rivermont Collegiate is eagerly jumping on board to expand the impact of FLL in the Quad Cities!  Due to success of the program in Rivermont 5th grade last year, it has been expanded to 5th - 8th grade for 2012-13.  A dedicated room has been equipped with 9 computers and devoted to the robotics teams.  Last year, two teams of Rivermont 5th graders competed at the regional qualifier at the Putnam, with one team bringing home the Core Values Inspiration Award.  Coaches Rachel Chamberlain and Leigh Ann Schroeder saw tremendous growth and maturity in the teams, not only learning new STEM skills, but demonstrating skills in teamwork, goal setting, compromise, and problem solving.  Due to huge student interest, students in 6th – 8th grade are now invited to join the fun – Rivermont will have four FLL teams this year.

“It’s one thing to see a kid in college doing it, but to see 13, 14, 15, 16-year olds writing code, building robots, enthusiastic about life, mathematics, science, and engineering…20 years from now, these kids are the leaders of industry.” –, Frontman, The Black Eyed Peas  


Note: FLL season officially kicked off August 28th.  The regional tournament in Davenport will be held Saturday, December 15th at the Putnam Museum.  This year’s theme is Senior Solutions – can FLL teams improve the quality of life for seniors by helping them continue to be independent, engaged, and connected in their communities?  For additional information on the FIRST LEGO League, visit

Rivermont Collegiate, located in Bettendorf, is the Quad Cities’ only private, independent college prep school for students in preschool through 12th grade. 

For additional information on Rivermont, contact Rachel Chamberlain at (563) 359-1366 ext. 302 or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Visit us on the web at!

Reginald Hurt Graduates from Grantham University PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Jessica Peak   
Friday, 07 September 2012 12:56

KANSAS CITY, MO (09/04/2012)(readMedia)-- Reginald Hurt of Davenport, IA graduated from Grantham University on April 9, 2012. Hurt earned a/an Master of Business Administration – Project Management With Distinction.

Grantham University was founded in 1951 by Donald Grantham, a veteran of World War II, to help prepare veterans for new jobs in the electronics' industry and a better future upon their return to civilian life. Today, the University supports thousands of online students in 36 different associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs.

Grantham's courses are 100% online, allowing students to study at home, at work, on Temporary Duty (TDY) or from almost anywhere in the world. Accredited since 1961 by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council, Grantham University has compiled a distinguished record as a respected and accredited distance learning university spanning six decades of service to education. For more information about the University and its online degree programs, visit:

Branstad, Reynolds, Allen to hold 14 STEM community conversations PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Office of Governor Terry Branstad   
Friday, 07 September 2012 12:36

(DES MOINES) -  Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen today announced a series of community conversations featuring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and economic development that will take place across the state in September and October.

The community conversations are designed seek feedback from Iowans about what priorities the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council should focus on as the STEM initiative continues to build across Iowa.

“We are determined to provide Iowa’s young people with engaging STEM education opportunities, no matter where they live,” said Reynolds, co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “That will help assure more students are well equipped to be knowledgeable citizens and to someday begin college or career training prepared for success. It also will help assure a stronger STEM employee pipeline for Iowa’s businesses and industries.”

All parents, grandparents, educators, business and civic leaders, legislators and other Iowans are invited to attend the hour-long, town hall style meetings.

“We are in the process of rolling out STEM programs through our scale-up initiative and these community conversations are a way to foster STEM relationships between local businesses, the regional STEM networks and area schools," said Allen, co-chair of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council.

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.

“STEM jobs are projected to be among the fastest growing and best paying. Iowa’s economy also will benefit if more young people are ready for STEM jobs. Employers routinely tell us they have difficulty filling STEM jobs that pay well because applicants lack the right skill set,” said Branstad.

The following STEM Community Conversation events are open to the public:

Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012

9:30 a.m. Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds and President Allen hold Tama County STEM Community Conversation

Reinig Center

1007 Prospect Dr.

Toledo, IA

11:30 a.m. Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds and President Allen hold Black Hawk County STEM Community Conversation

University of Northern Iowa – Center for Energy and Environmental Education – Main Lobby

1227 W 27th St.

Cedar Falls, IA

Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012

9 a.m. Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds hold Greene County STEM Community Conversation

Greene County Community Center

204 W Harrison St.

Jefferson, IA

10:30 a.m. Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds hold Boone County STEM Community Conversation

DMACC Boone Campus – Auditorium

1125 Hancock Dr.

Boone, IA

12:30 p.m. Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds hold Marshall County STEM Community Conversation

Emerson Innovation Center, Fisher Technology

301 S 1st Ave.

Marshalltown, IA

Monday, Sept. 17, 2012

10 a.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds and President Allen hold Polk County STEM Community Conversation

Drake Legal Clinic Courtroom

2400 University Ave.

Des Moines, IA

1:30 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds holds Warren County STEM Community Conversation

Simpson College – McNeil Hall – Pioneer Conference Room

701 North C St.

Indianola, IA

Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012

1:30 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds and President Allen hold Union County STEM Community Conversation

Southwestern Community College – Instructional Center Room 180

1501 W Townline St.

Creston, IA

4 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds and President Allen hold Taylor County STEM Community Conversation

Bedford High School – Auditorium

906 Penn St.

Bedford, IA

Friday, Oct. 5, 2012

9 a.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds holds Emmet County STEM Community Conversation

Iowa Lakes Community College – Wind Energy Facility

2021 7th Ave. S

Estherville, IA

2 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds holds Webster County STEM Community Conversation

Iowa Central Community College – Bioscience and Health Services Auditorium (BHS105)

330 Ave. M

Fort Dodge, IA

Monday, Oct. 8, 2012

12:30 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds holds Muscatine County STEM Community Conversation

Muscatine Community Schools Administrative Center – Conference Room

2900 Mulberry Ave.

Muscatine, IA

3:30 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds holds Des Moines County STEM Community Conversation

Greater Burlington Partnership – Winegard Board Room

610 N 4th St., Suite 200

Burlington, IA

Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012

2 p.m. Lt. Gov. Reynolds holds Linn County STEM Community Conversation

The Hotel at Kirkwood Community College – Ballroom

7725 Kirkwood Blvd. SW

Cedar Rapids, IA


TILE classrooms promote active, student-centered learning PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Hawkeye Caucus   
Friday, 07 September 2012 12:11

What if students had classes that helped them earn better grades and that they liked better than traditional classes?  At the University of Iowa, thousands of students now have an opportunity to do just that as they experience a very active style of learning through tech-infused TILE classrooms.

TILE stands for Transform, Interact, Learn, Engage.  Since 2010, the UI has created five of these student-centered learning spaces, which support in-class collaboration, inquiry-based learning, peer instruction, and more interaction with faculty.  TILE rooms accommodate 27 to 81 students and are equipped with round tables, laptops, and whiteboards to facilitate hands-on projects and small-group discussions.  Multiple projectors and screens around the room allow them to share their work.

To date, instructors have taught 148 TILE courses in an array of fields, including STEM disciplines, foreign language, education, political science, theater arts, business, urban and regional planning, and more.


ITS-Instructional Services is assessing the difference in learning outcomes in TILE and traditional classrooms.  All other things equal, students in TILE classrooms earned slightly higher grades than students taking the same courses in regular rooms—an outcome consistent with prior research about similar classrooms at M.I.T. and the University of Minnesota.


Sample comments from UI students who took TILE classes: “It compels collaboration.” “It gives us a chance to learn from each other.” “It’s more of a facilitator’s classroom versus a lecturer that holds all of the knowledge and bestows it on us.”

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