The CSO, or ‘Chief Science Officer’ program, is a pipeline educational program designed to allow students to have a voice in their schools, from just their school up to the district level and beyond. It gives students the leadership skills, knowledge, and fun attitude about STEM necessary to make a lasting impact on the people they meet. It’s gone from a relatively small band of students based in Arizona to a worldwide organization, with around 600 CSO’s spread across the United States, Mexico, and Kuwait, with many more to come.
The program specializes in setting up events regarding STEM to allow students to hone their public speaking skills, general STEM knowledge, and teamwork abilities. These skills allow the CSO’s to effectively advocate for more STEM involvement in their schools, districts, and communities. This also spreads over into other areas within a CSO’s school: While a CSO isn’t necessarily affiliated with a group like Student Council, or Student Government, the skills they learn as a CSO allow them to effectively communicate ideas, both scientific and otherwise to their peers, administrators, and parents.
I got involved with the program through one of my teachers at Sonoran Science Academy – Tucson. I was her student in her Forensics class, and she asked me to consider joining the program due to my interest in the subject. I joined, was elected to be the CSO, and formed up a group of grade-level CSO representatives, to form a STEM council. My experience in the program was better than what the above suggests: I met CSO’s from all around the world, AZ Governor Doug Ducey, and was flown to Michigan with Susan Faretta to help her bring in a new class of CSO’s. I learned how to get over my fear of public speaking, and I was able to revamp my own schools STEM night. It’s a great program, no matter your goals, and one to consider putting your kids into.
-CSO Alum Max