stem aware hero

Are you or one of your colleagues looking to implement STEM in your classroom?

The Illinois Science Teachers Association (ISTA) and the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM), with the generous support of hand2mind, are pleased to offer the Illinois STEM Rising Star Award for promising teachers looking to implement STEM in their classrooms. The winners will be honored at the 2018 Joint ISTA/ICTM Conference, held at the Tinley Park Convention Center on October 19–20.

  • There will be 3 awards—1 primary grades (K–2), 1 intermediate grades (3–5), and 1 middle school (6–8).*
  • Applicants must provide evidence of a plan to implement STEM/Engineering Design projects that go beyond normal classroom teaching.
  • An emphasis is placed on plans that are innovative and that integrate multiple STEM areas.
  • Judges will be looking for evidence of current teaching practices that include hands-on learning, small group instruction, centers rotations, and overall student engagement.
  • Applications are especially encouraged from educators whose work involves student populations that are underrepresented in STEM fields.
  • The independent judging panel includes: ISTA/ICTM members, college/university professors, and/or last year’s winners.
*hand2mind employees and their family members and paid consultants/per diems of hand2mind are not eligible to apply.

Hear how Gretchen Brinza, a 2018 Illinois STEM Educator Award winner, makes STEM fun for her students.


  1. Fill out the application online here.
  2. Be current members of ISTA and/or ICTM at the time of submission (new members are welcome).
  3. Currently work as classroom teachers.
  4. Describe your current teaching practices and success, your classroom environment, your STEM implementation plan, and the challenges you currently face when trying to implement STEM.
  5. Include a current resume.
  6. Provide 1 letter of support from an administrator who can attest to your talent and enthusiasm as a teacher and your ability to implement your STEM plan.
  7. OPTIONAL: Provide 1 letter of recommendation from a parent or student.


  • $500 check
  • $1,000 in hand2mind products to support the planned project
  • Complimentary registration to the 2018 Joint ISTA/ICTM Conference
  • Complimentary 1-year membership in ISTA or ICTM.


  • Applications open on May 1, 2018.
  • Applications are due on September 7, 2018.
  • Winners will be notified on September 21, 2018.
  • Winners must be present at the 2018 Joint ISTA/ICTM Conference Luncheon to receive their awards.
Online Application

If you need additional information or assistance, please contact us at: [email protected]