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Japanese Come to Iowa for STEM Lesson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- This week, six educational leaders from Japanese universities are visiting the University of Iowa to take a lesson in science, engineering, technology, and math, or STEM.

The professors and Ph.D. candidates visiting the Hawkeye state are spending three days meeting with faculty, deans, and teachers to learn how to build a STEM program like Iowa's, especially when it comes to engineering.

"I was so wondering -- and lots of Japanese people (are) wondering -- why (is the) United States moving that way? Maybe, we (need) to change," said Yoshisuke Kumano, a professor at Shizuoka University.

Kumano said the Japanese focus a lot on science, but making it applicable to students can be difficult. College of Education Dean Nicholas Colangelo told the group, getting kids interested in STEM subjects has to be fun -- and has to start early.

"Inherently math and science is exciting, it's fun. I think it's the way we present it," Colangelo said.

The Japanese delegates came to Iowa, in part, because of the Governor's STEM Initiative. Started in 2011, it has brought hi-tech education to the forefront in Iowa.

"I think we've made such a presence internationally already in this two-and-a-half years that a Japanese contingent looking for STEM reform in Japan comes to Iowa, and here we are," said Jeff Weld, executive director of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council.

The Japanese are hoping to eventually create a broader exchange program between universities in the U.S. and Japan, Kumano said.

"As a globe, I think we can help each other, we can find something new, I think we will sustain more for the future," he said.
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