STEM Pipeline Blog / March 9, 2021
Chief Science Officers Continue to “Make it Happen”
Who are the Chief Science Officers?
The motto of the Chief Science Officers (CSO) is “Don’t just hope it happens – make it happen!” Chief Science Officers is an international student leadership program in which middle and high school students are STEM ambassadors in their schools and communities. This year has been filled with many unexpected turns due to a global pandemic that none of us predicted, wanted, or planned for. However, we as Chief Science Officers have tried our best to adapt and make the most out of a difficult situation. One of the most challenging aspects of this pandemic is the lack of in-person meetings and face-to-face interactions. As CSOs, we are powered by teamwork and learn from each other and from STEM professionals. In previous years, we were able to attend quarterly cabinet meetings at local STEM businesses; this allowed us to accomplish program goals of learning about STEM careers and collaborating to implement STEM action plans, while also socializing and meeting new people. Now with COVID-19 regulations, all of our meetings have been moved online to Zoom, and events have been changed to half day meetings, instead of full day. This makes them more accessible and also better for the teenage brain. With so many students doing virtual schooling, their screen time has gone up astronomically. We do not want to contribute to that any more than necessary, as we understand that mental and physical health are of the utmost important. Many international opportunities also had to be postponed this past year due to COVID-19; for example, the annual International Chief Science Officers Summit in Washington, D.C. did not occur last fall.
Making it happen in the Great Lakes Bay Region
The GLBR Chief Science Officers have met these challenges head-on and recognize that the pandemic has also opened doors to new, amazing opportunities for all CSOs to enjoy. For example, the fall CSO cabinet meeting occurred virtually and involved STEM professionals from various fields, all discussing the COVID-19 pandemic. We met with medical professionals, health department personnel, school administrators, and even someone from Nexteer who had 3-D printed a device to attach to your ears that makes masks more comfortable. Our winter cabinet meeting was a virtual Student Sustainability Summit, held in collaboration with the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance and other local partners. This event brought together speakers from all over Michigan, of different backgrounds and ages, to connect and discuss the growing importance for sustainability in all fields. Also during cabinet meetings, CSOs discuss their STEM action plans. This year has prompted CSOs to utilize their creativity more than ever, overcome obstacles, and continue to “make it happen.” Since most in-person events could not occur, many original action plans had to be adapted to online formats. Some CSOs converted their event into Zoom or Google Meet events, while others came up with totally new action plans. Many CSOs found ways to reach people at home; some developed at-home STEM kits while others created newsletters, YouTube videos, blogs, and podcasts. The options this year seemed limited, but CSOs were again able to persevere and still impact their schools and communities.
The CSO program originated in Arizona, but over the past five years has spread to multiple states and countries. Online meetings allow CSOs from all over the world to connect easily once per month during CSO International Town Hall meetings; these meetings are aimed at increasing student voice through the CSO program. Each CSO region shares their progress with CSO International leaders and all participants discuss ways to connect virtually and develop new opportunities to impact the CSOs and their peers. These opportunities include additional leadership training and collaboration with groups such as the Arizona SciTech Institute and the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival. Recently, CSO International representatives met with Microsoft personnel to discuss possible updates for Microsoft Teams that would allow CSOs to operate more efficiently. Another recent meeting included a representative from the U.S. government in which student leaders discussed the benefits of having CSOs in every middle and high school in the United States and how this would increase STEM engagement throughout society. All of these endeavors showcase the grit and determination of the Chief Science Officers, as well as their ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. CSOs continue to collaborate across the globe so that they don’t just hope STEM education changes, they make it happen!
Contact Information & Social Media
Blog Authors: CSO Ava, H.H. Dow High School and CSO Sahiba, Jefferson Middle School
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