CYSTEM Connects Youth with Programs, Careers and Mentors

AMES, Iowa — Iowa youth now can quickly find science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) resources near them. CYSTEM, an online map resource created by Extension Science, Engineering and Technology (E-SET), is designed to link Iowa youth with STEM programs, careers and mentors. E-SET is part of the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development Program.

“As 4-H increases the program opportunities for youth relating to science, engineering and technology, we needed a way to link youth with mentors, opportunities and clubs across the state,” said Holly Bignall, with E-SET. “An interactive map seemed like a great way to allow our clients to find out what is available and connect with each other, as well as find mentors. The map also allows us to take advantage of all our great ISU alums and the many STEM careers that are in Iowa.”

CYSTEM can be accessed at Once on the map, youth can quickly and easily find the programs, mentors or careers they are interested in, by topic, with several check boxes and drop-down menus. The resources are marked on an Iowa map so youth can pinpoint the resources closest to them.

Each resource item on the map also includes extra information so youth can learn more about it. For example, mentor entries give information on the type of work they do, what they love about their job, what they can mentor in and past projects they’ve enjoyed.

“Many times youth don’t have access to role models and mentors who can help them pursue their interests. This map helps conquer this sense of isolation and connect youth with knowledgeable mentors who are ready and willing to assist,” said Jay Staker, director of E-SET.

CYSTEM will only be as useful as the resources posted to the map, so E-SET is ready to start taking submissions from around the state. A form is available online for anyone to submit a youth program, career opportunity or name as a mentor. The information then will be added to the map for all Iowa youth to access.