Who we are and what we do

iExploreSTEM is a non-profit volunteer organization that brings communities together to appreciate and celebrate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). We connect leaders and stakeholders interested in improving STEM education and increasing the public understanding of science. We also help communities produce public  STEM events and introduce new STEM into afterschool activities. We -

-- work to build broad-based local partnerships that help the entire community to learn to value STEM
-- connect local educators and policy makers with national STEM networks and organizations
-- assist in every aspect of STEM event planning including logistics, fund-raising, grant-writing, STEM professional recruiting, training, and evaluation
-- help communities assess local STEM assets and assist in identifying resources and programs to address their STEM needs

Our event specialty is STEM festivals

STEM festivals are -

-- are fun and free
-- are for children and adults
-- challenge visitors to think - to solve STEM problems
-- provide a way to meet STEM professionals
-- introduce visitors to careers in STEM

Visitors can try their hand at as many or as few activities as strike their fancy - build a working windmill, dissect a virtual cadaver, or explore a career through video games.


iExploreSTEM began as a project of the State Hygienic Laboratory and Health and Human Physiology Department at the University of Iowa, and IMSEP to develop community STEM festivals. The first festival was held in Coralville, IA in 2011. In 2012, the project was selected as one of twelve exemplary STEM programs by the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council to be scaled up across Iowa. STEM festivals are now happening throughout Iowa.

A key aspect of iExploreSTEM is coalition building. With the assistance of the iExploreSTEM team, communities build broad-based local partnerships. Involving the entire community helps everyone learn to value STEM. Festivals are scaled to the resources of the community and produced as a stand-alone event or as a festival within a festival, adding a new exciting STEM dimension to an existing community festival. STEM activities are typically aimed at children in grades K-8, but most can be adapted to challenge older children and parents.


iExploreSTEM also partners with organizations to to highlight the connection between entrepreneurship and STEM. We have partnered with the Jacobson Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship at The University of Iowa through Pitch and Win events. The Institute enriches K-12 students’ lives through classroom and practical educational experiences. Through teacher education, innovative curricula, and outreach, the Jacobson Institute fosters the “entrepreneurial mindset”—encouraging creativity, innovation, critical thinking, and problem solving, and preparing students for success in the worlds of business and entrepreneurship.


  • Beth Hochstedler, Co-Director - Ms. Hochstedler is the Director of Education, Training, and Outreach at the Iowa State Hygienic Laboratory. She serves on the Iowa Governor's STEM Council and received the STEM Champion award from the Technology Association of Iowa in 2014.  She is the former President of the Iowa Public Health Association.
  • Gina Schatteman, Co-Director - Dr. Schatteman is an Emeritus Associate Professor of Health and Human Physiology at the University of Iowa. She served as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the Office of Science Education at the National Institutes of Health. She is a Fellow of the American Association of Anatomists and former President of the Iowa Physiological Society. She now resides in Idaho.
  • Richard Bonar, Director of Operations - Mr. Bonar is the STEM Coordinator at the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa (SHL). He oversees the training laboratories and programs at the SHL. He was instrumental in the Laboratory receiving the "Nation's Healthiest Lab Award" from the Association of Public Health Laboratories.