IDRA Texas CSOs serve as STEM ambassadors in their school communities

San Antonio, May 27, 2020 – IDRA’s Texas Chief Science Officer students shifted their work to create new ways to enrich a STEM culture despite school closures. This year, more than 100 teens in San Antonio and Houston served as their school’s Chief Science Officers, learning leadership skills to carry out their own on-campus projects and advocate for student voice in STEM. But school closures threatened to derail their plans. Innovative by nature, these students took up the challenge.

CSO Shreya, a 10th grader, created a Discord BellBot for her peers who are studying at home to alert them, as a school bell would, to transition to the next subject’s coursework. It also gives them quick links to their teacher’s online platforms and assignments and allows students to document each day’s homework.

Eighth-grader CSO Elizabeth and her team at NEISD STEM Academy are finalists in their digital inclusion project for SA Smart: The Mayor’s K-12 Smart City Challenge. The challenge asked for ideas to solve the city’s 38% digital divide. Their idea is to increase the sales tax to push funding to communities who need digital inclusion resources. Winners will be announced later this month.

CSO Ian’s original action plan was to lead a STEMonstration for his youth group, which of course could not happen once COVID-19 closures began. Instead, he led a virtual STEMonstration via Zoom. He and a friend created a DIY (do it yourself) water coagulation kit using household materials to build a circuit board, creating an electric current that purifies polluted water. Ian is an eighth-grader in Cornerstone Christian Schools Online.

In addition to her STEM work for school, CSO Alicia focused on her family by teaching her little sister how to build and operate robots. Alicia is a seventh-grader at Dwight STEM Academy in South San Antonio ISD.

“We’re proud to foster students’ discovery of STEM pathways and make an important global program available to Texas students,” said IDRA President & CEO Celina Moreno. “Our CSO program amplifies voices of underserved students as they advocate STEM in their schools.”

The Chief Science Officer program empowers middle and school high school students to enrich school STEM culture and career awareness by bringing STEM/STEAM-related opportunities to their schools and local communities. The Arizona-based SciTech Institute initiated this international CSO program in 2015. The Alamo STEM Ecosystem (a member of the International STEM Learning Ecosystem) brought it to San Antonio in 2018. IDRA manages the Texas expansion of the program, particularly into historically under-resourced schools and to serve low-income students, students of color and girls.

Typically, CSOs support STEM programming on campuses by helping to plan field trips, host science nights, start STEM-related clubs, initiate student-led civic action projects, and bring speakers from local industries to engage students in conversations about the STEM workforce.

In 2019-20, the CSO program is in schools in the following school districts: Edgewood ISD, Harlandale ISD, Houston ISD, Judson ISD, Northeast ISD, Northside ISD, San Antonio ISD, South San Antonio ISD and Southwest ISD.

Webinar May 29: Elevate the Voices of Students in STEM at Your School – Webinar Q&A on Hosting the Texas Chief Science Officer Program

Webinar recording: Chief Science Officer Students Determined to Promote STEM Despite School Closures – COVID-19 School Response Webinar – Three CSO students described how they keep innovating and creating during this time.

Student videos: Collaborative showcase website shows CSO program highlights from this year.

Website: Texas Chief Science Officers Program.