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About Symbi

The Creation of Symbi

Symbi, Iowa's first GK-12 Program is a partnership between Iowa State University and central Iowa school districts. Symbi is funded by the National Science Foundation to support Iowa State University graduate students (Fellows) conducting interdisciplinary research in areas associated with biorenewables. Each Fellow works collaboratively with a selected middle school or high school science teacher to leverage the Fellow's research experiences as they develop innovative and engaging science activities for the students. The Fellows spend one full day every week throughout the public school year in a science classroom performing the duties of a "resident scientist/engineer" as they interact with their partner teacher and students. Symbi is a response to President Obama's call to the nation's scientists to "spend time in the classroom, talking and showing young people what it is that your work can mean and what it means to you […] to think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering."

Why the name Symbi? Symbi, stems from the scientific and mainstream term Symbiosis; a mutually beneficial relationship between two entities. What better represents the relationship between our fellows and the middle school and high school students. Symbi is simply a shortened form of the original term creating a unique, complete, and proper name.

Our Goals and Purpose:
growing Iowa's scientists for a greener tomorrow

The goals and purpose of Symbi, Iowa's GK-12 program is to engage graduate students conducting interdisciplinary research in the area of biorenewables, with K-12 educators, students and their parents, and administrators.

The vision of this engagement is two-fold:

  1. To provide graduate students with the skill sets and communication proficiency to explain their science and illustrate core STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) principles to a young and receptive audience; and
  2. To provide middle school and high school students exposure to inquiry-based learning experiences and authentic demonstrations of mastery of core concepts. Accomplishing this integrated vision will provide both groups of students with the ability to be highly competitive in the 21st century global economy. This is a need that is recognized throughout society, as is illustrated by comments made by President Obama's address to the National Academy of Science: "I want to persuade you to spend time in the classroom, talking and showing young people what it is that your work can mean and what it means to you…I want us all to think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering." (Obama, 2009)

Our Partners:

Bioeconomy Institute

The Bioeconomy Institute (BEI) provides cohesion among the diverse efforts in biorenewable resources on campus and encourages collaboration within departments, colleges and research units.

Center for Biorenewable Chemicals

The Center for Biorenewable Chemcials (CBiRC) mission is to transform the chemical industry by integrating biological and chemical catalysis systems to produce biorenewable chemicals. CBiRC also provides educational programs that attract a diverse set of students into the engineering field and produce a new cadre of globally competitive college graduates capable of designing integrated chemical/biological processing systems.

Plant Sciences Institute

The Plant Sciences Institute's (PSI) mission is to create and translate scientific knowledge of plants to address unmet societal needs. PSI will position Iowa to be a biotehnology leader and a leading beneficiary of biotechnology, advance an era of high technology in Iowa agriculture and industry, research crops important to the economy of Iowa, and helps realize the vision of Iowa as food and bioenergy capital of the world.

Sustainable Agriculture

The Extension Sustainable Agriculture Program supports sustainable agriculture in Iowa by: providing information about sustainable agriculture in Iowa; providing training in the philosophy and implementation of sustainable agriculture to Extension staff and other information providers; sponsoring programs on sustainable agriculture for farmers, agricultural professionals, and the public; and working with government, non-profit, and agriculture groups in the state and region on a variety of sustainable agriculture issues.