June 7, 2017

SVSU partners with K-12 schools to prepare ‘chief science officers,’ thanks to grant from The Dow Chemical Co.

Saginaw Valley State University hopes to send students back to their K-12 schools to serve as leaders and “chief science officers” when the new school year begins in the fall.

Modeled after a similar program that has proven successful in Arizona, middle and high school students are elected by their peers to be a “chief science officer” and then are empowered to influence a wide range of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities in their schools and communities. The goal is to have students take an active role in increasing student interest in the STEM fields and ultimately create a diverse pipeline of STEM leaders.

SVSU received a $40,000 grant from The Dow Chemical Company Foundation to run the community-minded pilot program at middle schools and high schools in Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties for the 2017-18 school year.

“We are proud to collaborate with our longtime partner SVSU to bring the chief science officer program to the Great Lakes Bay Region,” said Rob Vallentine, president of The Dow Chemical Company Foundation.

“This program will empower students and educators to be local STEM leaders, who by sharing their knowledge in our community will create a multiplier effect of more young people getting excited about and prepared in STEM subjects, and hopefully interested in pursuing STEM careers.”

The funds will support up to two students and a teacher mentor from each participating school to attend a two-day summer institute that will bring middle school and high school students to SVSU August 22-23. Around 50 students are expected to participate for the upcoming year.

Money from the grant also is set aside to provide mini-grants of up to $250 to support the “chief science officers” who develop plans for STEM projects to serve their school or community. Adrianne Cole, STEM Program Manager at SVSU, will oversee the program in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Several local schools already have registered to participate:
•    Bay City Public Schools (Handy and Western middle schools; Central and Western high schools)
•    Bridgeport-Spaulding Community Schools (Atkins Middle School and  Bridgeport High School)
•    Bangor Township Schools (John Glenn High School)
•    Carrollton Public Schools (middle school and high school)
•    Freeland Community Schools (middle school and high school)
•    Midland Public Schools (Jefferson and Northeast middle schools; H.H. Dow and Midland high schools)
•    Swan Valley Schools (high school)
•    Saginaw Township Community Schools (Heritage High School and White Pine Middle School)
•    Valley Lutheran High School

Additional schools who are interested in joining the program should contact Cole at (989) 964-4058, or acole@svsu.edu.

The Chief Science Officer Initiative is supported by the U.S. Department of Technology; it was created and is overseen by Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D., executive director of the Arizona Technology Council Foundation. For more on the program, visit https://chiefscienceofficers.org/.

The Great Lakes Bay Region pilot program through SVSU is one of several being started across the country in connection with the National STEM Ecosystem Project.