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Iowa STEM Teacher of the Year

The Southwest Iowa Science, Technology, Engineering and Math region’s 2019 honoree is Lacy West, a seventh and eighth grade science instructor at Missouri Valley Middle School.

West uses STEM as “enrichment beyond the textbook,” as she described in her award application. She has received two STEM Scale-Up grants from the STEM Advisory Council that have allowed her students to work with motorized toy cars and fuel cell cars, and also compete with National Ten80 racing. She is the sponsor for Missouri Valley Middle School’s STEM Club, which provides education and career exploration through hands-on activities to students outside the regular classroom hours.

West has created collaborative spaces with her students and professionals from the National Center for Science Education, Novozymes Blair Inc. for microbiological analysis, Crossroads of Western Iowa, and even with fellow math teachers at her school to show interdisciplinary STEM through designing boats and engineering shelters. Through her funding from, she has also received a forensic science kit and a 3-D printer for her students.

Earlier this year, with the help of Everfi STEM career exploration modules, West had her students research different school safety devices that would help keep doors locked during an emergency situation and that were also cost effective. Her students designed prototypes using Tinkercad, 3-D printed the prototypes, and tested their designs. This type of real-world STEM learning provided her students knowledge on a variety of STEM career options, the process of testing and adjusting ideas, and brought on great societal conversation.

West sits on a Western Iowa Conference Professional Learning Community with four other science teachers to create common assessments for science. She has also continued her professional development through modules and breakout workshops with the Greenhills Area Education Agency.

West has also planned multiple science workdays for vertical alignment for Missouri Valley’s sixth grade through high school science student and work to increase 3-D teaching into their science standards. She is also the host of the Missouri Valley Middle School Science Fair and sits on the Principal’s Advisory Committee.

This award recognizes and celebrates one teacher from each of the six STEM regions who goes above and beyond to increase their student’s interest in STEM. Each recipient is recognized for their dedication in representing I.O.W.A.; by being Innovative in their methods, Outstanding in their passion for education, Worldly in the way they help students see that STEM is all around them, and Academic through engaging students in the classroom to prepare them for higher education and high-demand careers.

Each recipient was selected by a panel of judges after being nominated for the award by a colleague, school administrator, parent, student, or community member, and then completing an application showcasing their contributions to STEM education. Each recipient will receive $1,500 for personal use and another $1,500 for their classroom.

West and the other five recipients from across the state have each been honored with ceremonies in their classrooms with their students and peers and will also be recognized together at STEM Day at the Capitol with Governor and STEM Council Co-Chair Kim Reynolds and a representative from Kemin Industries the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 13, in Des Moines.

For more information about the award and all current and previous recipients, visit


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