What is Iowa BIG?


Iowa BIG

Brenna Hartse, right, works with another student at the Iowa BIG facility in downtown Cedar Rapids. Daily, Hartse works on projects to eventually present it to the community.

As students prepare to register for their classes in the 2019-2020 school year, they find a section labeled Iowa BIG. There have been videos shown to students registering about all the different alternative learning opportunities that are available at Kennedy, but what is Iowa BIG?

“Iowa Big allows students to learn in an alternative way by working on projects that give back to the community,” Brenna Hartse, sr., said. These community projects then turn into high school credit, allowing students in Iowa BIG to complete classes and help the community at the same time.

Iowa BIG offers sections that complete science, language arts, and other courses that are required to graduate. This group of students, in a non traditional classroom setting, learn about the content involved in these required classes while also gaining skills such as accountability, critical thinking, and flexibility.

“When I’m there I get to interact with students from other schools, and work on my projects. I enjoy my projects so much that it doesn’t feel like work,” Hartse said. High School students from Kennedy, Linn-Mar, Prairie, Jefferson, and Washington all focus on these projects together. This way, students can learn to build relationships with new people, even some they may deem ‘rivals’.

Hartse’s interest in Iowa BIG was first sparked through one of her cruise destinations prior to the registration process. Though her junior year schedule couldn’t allow it, Hartse made sure Iowa BIG fit into her senior year schedule, and has loved every minute of it.

“Iowa Big has taught me, a high school student, that you can make a difference in your community,” Hartse said. “I have learned how to work in a group setting, reach out and collaborate businesses and how to complete a project.”

If you would like to learn more about Iowa BIG, visit their website here.