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October 11, 2018

Chief Science Officers program at SVSU takes Carrollton, John Glenn students to D.C.

Four local high school students, two from Carrollton High School and two from John Glenn High School in Bay City, have been recognized as national leaders in empowering their peers to learn math and science.

Through their involvement with the Chief Science Officers program sponsored by Saginaw Valley State University, the students and their teachers are spending the week in Washington, D.C. with some of the nation’s leading minds in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) at the Chief Science Officers International Summit.

The four teens from the Great Lakes Bay Region are among only a few dozen from across the world – and the only students from Michigan – selected for the opportunity to share best practices and advocate for STEM and innovation in their schools and communities. The students are learning how to work together with influential leaders to effect real change in areas of great impact for the world today and in the future.

“This summit is an invaluable experience for the students who are chief science officers in our region,” said Adrianne Cole, director of STEM at Saginaw Valley State University. “They are meeting with national STEM leaders and lending their voices to STEM policy conversations. They will be able to bring their newfound knowledge back to our region to share it with other chief science officers and with other students at their schools.”

Saginaw Valley State University is in its second year sponsoring the Chief Science Officers program for Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region through a grant from The Dow Chemical Company Foundation. There are 64 students from 23 separate middle schools and high schools participating for the 2018-19 academic year.

The Dow Chemical Company Foundation and Nexteer Automotive provided funding to sponsor the trip for the Carrollton and John Glenn students and teachers.

The teens will convene to collaborate on expanding STEM access among their peers and communicate the importance of STEM education and careers with members of Congress, the Defense Intelligence Agency, NASA, the FBI, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. They will meet with House Science Committee staff, as well as national STEM leaders such as Dr. France Cordova, Director of the National Science Foundation; Dr. Sandra Cauffman, Earth Science Division Deputy Director at NASA; and Megan Smith, shift7 CEO who served as 3rd U.S. Chief Technology Officer.

Students will seek to share their own experiences and better understand the state of STEM education and its application to careers from these leaders, and they will offer their expertise on how to implement local programs to better prepare themselves and their classmates for today's world, where STEM skills are integral to many pursuits.

The Carrollton and John Glenn students are joined at the CSO International Summit by delegations from Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Oregon, Texas, Colombia, Mexico, and Kuwait. The event is a unique opportunity to empower youth CSOs to work with and impact national leadership, and for the first time, work as an international cabinet.

Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Arizona Technology Council Foundation and an Assistant Research Professor at the ASU School of Molecular Sciences. He founded the CSO program in 2015.

“In an environment where adults normally dictate the decisions, CSOs elevate the student voice,” Babendure said. “Incredible progress and change will come from these teens who are learning from national leaders and working with likeminded students across the world to raise and address important challenges.”

“The Chief Science Officers program is helping kids develop a strong voice about their future and empowering them to catalyze change before they're even out of high school,” said Megan Smith, former Chief Technology Officer of the United States and CEO of shift7. “Adults accidentally bring stereotypes about who fits in a STEM career, how hard it is, what it takes. These young people have figured out that everyone can do it and everyone can be welcomed! Youth CSOs area big part of changing perceptions and programs among the adults and their own peers in their schools.”

The Summit will follow the format of "feel, imagine, do, and share." CSOs will identify topics of importance they "feel" strongly about; work as a team to "imagine" innovative solutions; use their leadership and networking skills as they "do" meetings with national figures; and "share" their plans and progress via on national stage and through their regional networks.