STEM Innovator® leverages the University of Iowa's expertise as a research institution and incorporates the best evidenced-based research over the past 25 years in cognitive science, mathematics and science education, entrepreneurship, and business education. STEM Innovator® equips teachers and schools with the tools they need to execute the innovation model that works for their communities. It does this by creating a framework for teachers that focuses on problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration and engagement with community partners. With STEM Innovator® teachers can help all their students succeed by developing the 21st Century Skills that are essential to thrive in the new economy.


Teachers gain access to a robust package of innovation assessments, including a proprietary STEM Innovator®assessment tool that provides real-time raw data and data visualizations. So teachers can easily track student progress over time and share that data with their administrators and community as needed.


Students demonstrate individual and team competencies through the STEM Innovator® formative and summative assessment package:

  • 21st Century STEM Skills and Practices
  • Teamwork and Collaboration
  • Problem Solving
  • Innovation, Invention, and Entrepreneurial Practices
  • Community Engagement


Our hope is that these learning opportunities be available to all K-12 students. Through STEM Innovator® teachers learn strategies to engage students in authentic tasks that resonate and connect their students’ learning in school to the real world. STEM Innovator®students learn how their studies tie directly to the needs of the community and are provided with the skills to lead our country in innovation for the next century.

Connecting students and community partners


The University of Iowa’s Jacobson Institute -- creator of STEM Innovator®-- partnered with the Tippie College of Business because we share the belief that young people need innovation skills and an entrepreneurial mindset to succeed and reach their full potential. In an effort to emphasize the importance of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking, we offer high school students the opportunity to earn college credit that they can take with them anywhere.

  • Teachers: Must be a STEM Innovator® Certified Instructor.
  • Students: High school freshmen through seniors working with STEM Innovator® Certified Instructors must achieve a score of 70% percent or greater on the proficiency exam and successfully complete a project portfolio. 
  • Those who pass are eligible for three University of Iowa entrepreneurship credits from the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, a part the Tippie College of Business, at a reduced course fee of $150.

We encourage students to purchase the credits for several reasons:

  • An official transcript from a major research university demonstrates competency in innovation and entrepreneurship at a high level while still in high school.
  • STEM-related college credits can set students apart for admission to selective colleges and add value to college scholarship applications.
  • Credits are transferable to most colleges and universities, which can lower the total course load and overall tuition dollars spent in the near future.

Earning these credits is a significant achievement of which teachers, students and their families can be proud. Only students who pass the proficiency exam and submit an exceptional portfolio of their accomplishments receive this opportunity. We congratulate the students who achieve this honor.