John Deere Financial on Saturday will host a qualifying tournament of the first Tech Challenge-Iowa, a robotic competition for middle school and high school students in grades 7 through 12. The competition is meant to provide students with a hands-on exploration of the principles of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, otherwise known as STEM. A total of 24 teams will compete with an opportunity to advance to the FTC-Iowa Championship held in February at the University of Iowa. Saturday's event will start with remarks from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. at John Deere Financial headquarters, 6400 N.W. 86th St., Johnston. Business leaders and educators in Iowa have identified STEM education as a key initiative in the state, and Gov. Terry Branstad has put together a multiyear STEM Advisory Council.