Elected advocates for STEM and innovation in schools and communities.
The Chief Science Officer initiative was created to empower students to embrace these opportunities. A first-of-its-kind program, it puts 6th to 12th grade students at the forefront of inspiring student and community STEM awareness and encouraging the pursuit of STEM education and careers, ultimately building a strong 21st century workforce. CSOs are elected by their peers to be their school’s liaison for STEM and innovation. As such, they are part of a cohort of student leaders who experience special leadership training, impact STEM opportunities in their schools and local communities, and work as a collective cabinet to give input and ideas to adult STEM leaders at the state, regional, and national levels.
CSO Goals and Activities
The overarching goals are to:
Enhance student and community members’ workforce and employable skills
Place youth at the center of STEM advocacy and community action
Cultivate a pipeline of diverse STEM leaders
Advance Kindergarten to Grade 12 STEM education by leveraging business, higher education, and community support in and out of school and building a strong mentoring pipeline
Create a cohesive STEM culture
CSO activities include:
On campus – CSOs serve as the STEM voice for their school by supporting existing STEM programs or identifying new opportunities, such as speakers, field trips, and science nights that reflect the interests of their peers. In addition, they serve as their school’s point person for STEM-related engagement with community experts and organizations.
Off-campus – CSOs advocate for school and community STEM programs at conferences, local businesses, and city council and school board meetings, among others. Through these experiences, CSOs observe business norms, practice skills learned at the Training Institute, and develop their voices in the community.
As national cabinets – CSOs address large-scale collective-action opportunities. The sheer number of students represented by the CSOs helps engage high-level community, business and government leaders in unique settings such as universities, industry, and government facilities. This enables CSOs to work as a Community of Practice (COP) and improve their communication skills, increase their confidence, and share common experiences.
Online – CSOs regularly connect with their peers and the program team about current events and STEM topic by publishing and participating in blogs through an online Canvas learning management system (LMS).