The Chief Science Officers (CSO) are elected students with the goal to work with schools to help implement STEM on-campus plans and advocate for their peers. A group of CSO’s from Phoenix Union took their advocacy to the national level this past week presenting at the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers conference (ITEST) hosted by the National Science Foundation as well as meeting with staff of Arizona Representatives and Senators in Washington D.C.

This group included Brandon Chavarria of Alhambra, Mayra Olivas Payan of Central, and Sebastian Mora of Metro Tech. They were chaperoned by Carrie Repp (CEE) and Alison Coleman (Metro).

Left to Right: Alison Coleman (Metro Tech STEAM Biology Teacher), Brandon Chavarria (Alhambra H.S.), Kaci Fankhauser (AmeriCorps VISTA), Shalae (Phoenix), Kelly Greene (Director of Student Success, Arizona Technology Council Foundation), Sebastian Mora (Metro Tech H.S.), Mayra Olivas Payan (Central H.S), Carrie Repp (PUHSD Science Content Specialist)


ITEST focuses on new innovations in STEM education and expanding the research and development of programs which promote PreK-12 student interests and capacities in STEM. The CSO program won a $1 million grant from the NSF. Instead of having the researchers and directors speak about the importance of the program, the students held panels, presentations, and round table discussions with prominent academics and members of industry. The students chose to focus on subjects such as “Strategies for Culturally-Responsive Evaluations” and “Intergenerational STEM.” In one session they spoke with Dr. Matt Nurse, Vice President of Nike’s Research Lab. Dr. Nurse was interested in speaking with our students because of their “professionalism, impact, and focus on advocacy.” He was quite impressed with the presentations and pledged to continue working with the program.

After all of their hard work, the students took a tour of the Capitol and surrounding monuments. It was their first time traveling to the city and had an extraordinary time. Scroll to the bottom to see a couple of photos from their time.

If you or someone you know would like to get involved with the Chief Science Officer Program, please follow this link

Left to Right: Brandon Chavarria (Alhambra H.S.), MacKenzie (Michigan), Mayra Olivas Payan (Central H.S), Shalae (Phoenix), Tony (Michigan)


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