By Claire LaBeaux
Chief Science Officers (CSO) champion interest and engagement in STEM at their schools and within their communities. The program equips youth to exam their communities and schools to identify areas where they can make a difference. Students participating in the program advocate for increased student voice and improved STEM innovation and education in their communities and the world.
These ambitious middle and high school students don’t just love science themselves; they love to share STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) with their friends, neighbors, schools, families–the world! Each CSO develops their own action plan, mapping out their idea and how they will accomplish it, and taking the steps to live out the CSO motto: #MakeItHappen.
There are 81 schools in Arizona with the CSO program on-campus, with 243 students participating. As you read below and see how incredible the CSO’s action plans are, you will see what a significant impact they are making in the region and around the world.
Jonathan shares his current action plan: This year my action plan is to bring in STEM professionals and STEM-oriented colleges to help high school students learn more about what careers and opportunities are out there for them. In the past, I have helped organize and facilitate STEM Festivals with my school in which students and families were invited to the campus for a festival showcasing what different grades did with STEM. I also brought in local businesses to help showcase what STEM is, where it is found, and how it is used in the community around us. This year I am trying to help the K-8 schools in my district with their CSO programs and action plans.
Lauren helps to create equity through and in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Here is a look at some of her action plans:
As a CSO, I have organized and facilitated several free STEM events:
- Virtual Multi-District Bilingual Coding Night, a free, one-hour coding workshop for parents, students, and educators. Lessons were offered in both English and Spanish, and information about computer science internships was provided.
- Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAQ) Virtual Event, a live video call with interactive STEM exhibits and videos, plus the opportunity to join a Q &A session with two STEM professionals.
- An International STEM Professional Virtual Conversation featuring a well-respected researcher. Attending students (from the U.S. and Mexico) learned from the speaker and got to inquire about post-secondary opportunities and STEM careers.
Nikhil says: “I have two action plans this year. My main action plan is a real-life simulator of career opportunities. Students get to go through a career fair, apply to their favorite jobs, get to interview with heads of the company, and then gain a day of hands-on experience at this company! The companies pertain to different areas of STEM, so each kind of student is accommodated. My additional action plan is my existing environmental club. Being back in person, we hope to do some great things with our community, and we have already finished one semester of service!”
Prisha describes the club this way: “Astralis is a club that introduces students to the process of conducting R&D (research and development) to solve societal challenges. Astralis will teach students on how to complete a full project life cycle, which includes problem identification, conceptualization, design, development, testing, and deployment of a real-world solution. The club will receive mentorship, speakers, and learning opportunities from The Luminosity Lab, an interdisciplinary, student-driven innovation lab at Arizona State University. The student team will pursue a tangible R&D solution that solves a real-world challenge. At the end of each school year, the students will be able to showcase their work at ASU to multiple corporate partners, investors, and university faculty.”
“This club encourages problem-solving and entrepreneurial thinking. In addition to teaching students applied skills that will allow them to solve 21st century challenges, this club is designed to prepare students for college and future careers in STEM.”
Prisha’s previous action plan involved teaching engineering sessions to the hundreds of students and underprivileged kids in India. She traveled there with her family, and she spent months preparing interactive lessons for students in rural areas.
Sarah says: “After I created the pegboard, I gave a presentation at Liberty Wildlife about the snake pegboard and the importance of animal enrichment. It was inspired by (but NOT part of) my Girl Scout Gold Award Project, which was about creating five different types of animal enrichment and presenting them at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. In addition, though it is not part of my Action Plan, I will be hosting an enrichment-making table in January for a separate SciTech event.”
“In the past, I have hosted virtual “STEAM Meetings” at my school. They were about three topics, environmental science, animation, and robotics, and the careers that correlated with them.”
From student STEM events to meeting with STEM professionals, from the environment to wildlife, engineering to coding – the CSOs find their specific area of interest. Then they create action plans to bring those interests to life for students and families.
Chief Science Officers amplify student voice by bringing their peers and community leaders together and sharing their passion for learning and growth. There’s always room for more schools, students, and STEM professionals in the CSO program. To learn more about joining, visit ChiefScienceOfficers.org. Then you will be able to implement the CSO motto in your own life: Don’t just hope it happens, make it happen!