The 2023-2024 School and Youth Programs Leadership Conference

By Emi Lundberg

On September 23rd, 2023, two of Science ATL’s major STEM education programs, the Chief Science Officers and the STEM Professional School Partnership, met at the Michelle Obama STEM Elementary Academy for a day of workshops, collaboration, and STEM transformations.

Science ATL Youth Leadership Conference 2023

Science ATL School & Youth Programs Leadership Conference 2023

The Chief Science Officer (CSO) program is a STEM leadership program for students in grades 6-12. Their training was led by five high school students who have been recognized by Science ATL for their experience and excellence as CSOs and are now part of the 2023-2024 Science ATL Leadership Council. They guided the new CSOs through training sessions, detailing the expectations and responsibilities for the new cohort. Each CSO is encouraged to lead their own STEM-based initiative at their school, called their Action Plan. In addition to learning more about their charge as CSOs, students were invited to participate in the Georgia Youth Sustainability Conference and to connect with Get Hype INC, an organization that empowers girls of color with computer skills and prepares them for careers in the tech industry.

Science ATL Youth Leadership Conference 2023

Science ATL Youth Leadership Conference 2023

While the students were busy with their CSO trainings, the adults were also in session. Participants in the STEM Professional School Partnership (SPSP), an Science ATL initiative which partners STEM professionals and K-12 educators to increase access to STEM in education, underwent training for their upcoming collaborations. The partners had the opportunity to develop ideas for the STEM initiatives they wanted to enact at their schools. The ideas ranged from the implementation of a school garden to using arduino boards to develop a collaborative class arcade.

The enthusiasm for science education that is present every day in Atlanta was especially palpable at this event. We can’t wait to witness the contributions from both the Chief Science Officers and STEM Professional School Partnerships this year! Special thanks to the sponsors who made this conference possible and to all the participants!

Celebrating Our 2023 School & Youth Program Graduates, Projects, and Program Partners

2023 SCHOOL & YOUTH PROGRAM GRADUATES, PROJECTS, AND PROGRAM PARTNERSScience ATL’s School and Youth Programs department is proud to celebrate the following graduating seniors from the Georgia Chief Science Officer’s Program.

Barbara Simmons, ME Stilwell School of the Arts, Clayton County
Chanel Dang, Forest Park High School, Clayton County
Christy Long, Jonesboro High School, Clayton County
Jacob Kohler, Paulding County High School, Paulding County
Lilian Huynh, Jonesboro High School, Clayton County
Nathaniel Phelps, South Paulding High School, Paulding County

Congratulations to all of the graduates! We look forward to you changing the world!

Science ATL’s School and Youth Programs also celebrated a year of successful partnerships and projects at its second annual Closing Ceremony Awards. In addition to highlighting the work done across 10 Metro Atlanta School districts, the program also honored participants whose work propelled the 2022-2023 school years into one of the best years yet. Honorees included the following

Chief Science Officers (CSOs) of the Year: Christina Jordan and Jasmin Garcia
CSO Advisor of the Year: Dr. Vicki Grant
Ambassadors of the Year: Daylia Lian and Sao Nguyen
Educator of the Year: Antonio Ellis
STEM Professional of the Year: Tony Dunbar
District Champion of the Year: Dr. Keisha Kirkpatrick.

Congratulations to all of our honorees and a big thanks to the students, educators, and STEM professionals who helped propel School and Youth Programs to great heights.

Christina Jordan (right) and Jasmin Garcia


Dr. Vickie Grant (left)


Antonio Ellis (2nd from Left)


Daylia Lian (2nd from Left)


Sao Nguyen


Tony Dunbar (right)


Dr. Keisha Kirkpatrick

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Science!

Science ATL is honored, grateful, (and surprised!) to receive a $50,000 donation from the Kimley-Horn Foundation. This incredible gift came to us because Thomas Glueckert, a civil engineer at Kimley-Horn and an Atlanta Science Festival volunteer, entered his company’s charity RockPaperScissors tournament where his 3rd place finish won him this tremendous donation for Science ATL!!

It all started with a strange phone call one afternoon in December. The person on the other end of the line wanted to know if it was too late for his company to make a donation to support Science ATL. “Sir, it’s never too late…” Apparently, Tom had bested hundreds of his colleagues to win the southeastern region of this wacky charity tournament, qualifying him to win $5000 for his chosen charity. And he chose us! Better yet, Tom was advancing to the national finals against eight of his fellow employees/arch-rivals. His company, Kimley-Horn, had set up this contest as a fun way to engage their employees in corporate social responsibility, allowing employees to have a voice in the company’s charitable giving. Because Tom had had such a good time volunteering at the Atlanta Science Festival a few years ago, and because he believed in our mission, he selected Science ATL as his charity to play for.

“I picked Science ATL because they provide equitable access to STEM outreach programs in the greater Atlanta metro area, and I think it’s really important that we cultivate the next generation of engineers, mathematicians, and scientists for the future.” – Thomas Glueckert

Not a natural expert at Rock, Paper, Scissors, Tom didn’t think much of his chances. But, after reviewing the literature, and instituting a daily training regimen of wrist calisthenics, intimidation tactics, and a key Big Bang Theory episode, he knew he had a fighting chance.


Ultimately, Tom finished in 3rd place, winning $50,000 for Science ATL, strengthening our work to build an equitable community of science lovers in metro Atlanta. Thank you, Kimley-Horn Foundation! And thank you, Tom!

If you’d like to follow in Tom’s footsteps, you can get involved with Science ATL now: volunteer, donate, or get your company involved – just reach out to Executive co-Director, Jordan Rose at [email protected].


Atlanta Scientists Sing About the Magic of Mold and Fleming’s Fears for the Future ‘The Mold That Changed the World’ Comes to Atlanta Starting November 1

Take a look at leftovers left out for too long and you might also see a bit of multicellular magic known as mold. Modern medicine as we know it is due in large part to the discovery of penicillin mold by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming, who first noticed the fungus growing on a plate of staphylococcus culture nearly 100 years ago. Penicillin mold produces the natural antibiotic penicillin, which resulted in the groundbreaking fight against fatal infections like meningitis, strep throat, and gonorrhea.

But with the wonder of mold came a warning. Fleming’s biggest fear was the overuse of antibiotics, resulting in bacterial infections evolving to become resistant to treatment. Unfortunately, over-evolved bacteria known as “Superbugs” are now the third largest underlying cause of death in the world, with two million Americans developing an infection annually.

Fleming’s message still rings — or shall we say, sings — clear today: we must urgently decrease our overuse of antibiotics for the sake of our collective, long-term health. “The Mold That Changed the World” shares Fleming’s story and his wise warning in a setting where science rarely ventures – the stage.

Presented by the Charades Theatre Company and supported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Foundation along with The Rockefeller Foundation, “The Mold that Changed the World” comes to Atlanta’s Science Gallery at Pullman Yards November 1 through 6, 2022.

But no need to take a composer’s word on the seriousness of superbugs. “The Mold The Changed the World” stars a chorus made up of local scientists and healthcare professionals who perform alongside a professional cast of West End actors and live five-piece band.

“Our chorus … bring(s) an integrity to the musical which cannot be replicated,” says Jess Conway, producer with Charades Theatre. “They have dealt firsthand with the problems that antimicrobial resistance can cause and understand the gravity of that threat which comes across in their committed and passionate performances.”

This unique composition of the play’s cast brings a resonance to its subject matter not often found elsewhere in the musical world. Paired with passionately-sung music alongside captivating drama, dance, and circus wheel acrobatics, composer Robin Hiley’s lively Scottish folk-influenced score and writer Thomas Henderson’s skill for storytelling bring a thought-provoking recounting of Fleming’s work to life.

Atlanta organizations represented in the local production include the CDC, CDC Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, Gwinnett County Fire & Emergency Services, Georgia State University, Grady Memorial Hospital, and Georgia Institute of Technology.

Perhaps these scientists felt compelled by Fleming’s own struggles to share the implications of his work, as many STEM professionals today fear their warnings fall flat.

“We know from anti-smoking campaigns and the COVID-19 pandemic that statistics and scare tactics don’t work,” Conway says. “People respond to human stories and a musical is such a great way to engage peoples’ empathy and attention.“

Science ATL is proud to highlight “The Mold That Changed The World” as not only a creative venture for many of our local scientists, but also as a testament to the lasting legacy and meaningful stories scientists share with the world.

Atlanta is a Science City

Atlanta is... A Science City

“As marvelous as the stars is the mind of the person who studies them.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Atlanta is a city of curiosity and wonder, of inquiry and innovation, of biomedical miracles and engineered marvels.

We study the stars and analyze the inner architecture of the elements. We explore and cultivate life in all its biodiverse forms. We solve pernicious problems and amplify the impact of our best ideas.

We turn to science, in its expansive nature, to inform Atlanta’s policies and our personal practices. To guide our civic, community, and daily household decisions. To protect our planet and help our “City in the Forest” flourish. To light the way toward justice here in the heart of the Civil Rights Movement. To nurture our families’ health, abundance, and joy. Across science’s full breadth, in some form or fashion, all Atlantans are scientists.

From ITP to OTP and all around the BeltLine… From the microenvironments of our granite mountaintops to the Downtown Connector’s concrete valley… From Westside Park to Centennial Olympic Park to Piedmont Park, we are a city of scientists, students of science, citizen scientists, creators and makers empowered by science, people enlightened and inspired by science, and communities connected, moved, and guided by science.

Our health and wealth are sustained by biotech and fintech. Our environment and education are cultivated by environmental and social sciences. Our quality of life and cultural creations are enhanced by smart city initiatives and cutting-edge collaborations between artists and engineers. Atlanta’s present prosperity and boldest possibilities are built on the bedrock of science.

Atlanta Is a Science City

And so this month we’re launching the “Atlanta is a Science City” campaign to celebrate the many ways in which Atlanta cultivates and educates scientists and problem-solvers, contributes to the global body of scientific knowledge, and applies scientific research and discovery for the good of all Atlantans, Georgians, and the world.

In the months and years ahead, we’ll highlight Atlanta’s many diverse voices of science. We’ll tell stories of how science connects us and strengthens our communities. And we’ll share the latest news about Atlanta scientists making breakthroughs.

Science ATL’s Vision

We have a vision of Atlanta as a science city where we all celebrate the ways science and technology are fundamental to the health and prosperity of our community, and where everyone — regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status — is included in the wonders and rewards of science.

This vision, this passion has driven us for more than a decade, since the Atlanta Science Festival was only a glimmer of an idea.

Home to the CDC, world-class universities, the wandering waters of the Chattahoochee, and the buzzing innovation accelerators of Atlanta Tech Village and Science Square, our city’s contributions are as wide as the field of science itself.

From Atlanta’s founding as a transportation hub to our present identity as a hub for technological and biomedical innovation, our city has always been a science city, and science continues to connect us, inspire us, and guide us. Let’s celebrate Atlanta, our extraordinary science city, as we all work together to create a more marvelous future.

Science ATL and Emory University Extend Partnership for Five Years

A glimpse of the Atlanta Science Festival with lots of people there to enjoy the festival.

Emory’s Sponsorship Will Help Expand Nonprofit’s Community Engagement, Public Events

Science ATL announced today it will continue its longstanding partnership with Emory University through 2027. Together, the two organizations will work to enhance public engagement with science and broaden access to science among underrepresented groups.

Emory has been a founding sponsor since Science ATL launched in 2014 with its annual event, the Atlanta Science Festival. Through its partnership with Emory, Science ATL has reached more than 300,000 people in metro Atlanta with engaging science learning experiences.

“Emory University has been a key partner since day one,” says Jordan Rose, executive co-director of Science ATL. “Their leadership in the community has catalyzed our work since 2014, and will now propel us forward as we promote Atlanta-based scientific discoveries, highlight diverse scientists and students, and connect youth and families to science learning opportunities.”

In this collaboration, Science ATL will continue building a community of lifelong learners who are connected to and inspired by science through two initiatives: science storytelling and public science events. As part of the science storytelling project, Science ATL will create content to promote scientific discoveries in Atlanta and highlight Black and Latino voices in STEM.

Science ATL’s monthly public science events will be enhanced by collaboration with Emory’s faculty and students. New interactive events will include a self-guided Discovery Walk tour of Emory’s campus, and other events highlighting the university’s scientific contributions.

“I am proud of Emory’s role in making Science ATL real and possible,” says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University. “I think all humans are curious by nature. Science gives us one way to be curious about the world, and to explore it using an organized method and approach. Curious, scientifically informed citizens are critical for us to thrive as a free, democratic society in this technological age.”

To learn more about Science ATL visit or call 770-322-4992.

Celebrating our School & Youth Programs

The 2021-2022 year for Science ATL’s School and Youth Programs was full of awe-inspiring and exciting initiatives taken on by dozens of schools in multiple districts across Metro Atlanta. Over 300 students, teachers and STEM professionals worked together to bring impactful STEM outreach to thousands of students, educators, and community members. Their reach spread beyond their own schools, allowing them to provide their communities with unique ways to engage with STEM.

The Georgia Chief Science Officers Program celebrated its fourth year as one of the Metro Atlanta area’s premier STEM leadership programs. 46 CSOs at 22 schools brought a variety of STEM events and activities to more than 2800 students and 900 community members. Students went above and beyond this year, creating partnerships with their districts, universities and corporations to tackle problems at their schools that STEM could address. Check out their action plans below.

CSOs at Paulding County High School hosting a slime making event for more than 100 kindergartners from their feeder elementary schools.

CSOs at Paulding County High School hosting a slime making event for more than 100 kindergartners from their feeder elementary schools.

CSOs at Lovejoy High School created a STEM club to give students more direct access to STEM careers.

CSOs at Lovejoy High School created a STEM club to give students more direct access to STEM careers.

CSOs at Global Impact Academy took their first steps to addressing food deserts in their community by building a school garden and outdoor learning space.

CSOs at Global Impact Academy took their first steps to addressing food deserts in their community by building a school garden and outdoor learning space.

This year also marked the second cohort of the STEM Professional School Partnership Program. 46 educators teamed up with 46 STEM professionals across multiple industries to bring innovative STEM programming to more than 1600+ students in the Metro Atlanta Area. Throughout the year, elementary and middle school students explored STEM careers through hands-on experiments, professional panels and career days, and STEM-themed days and weeks, just to name a few. Check out some of the highlights below.

Student giving presentation on generative art

Forest Park Middle School’s Derwin Binion and NCR’s Bura Iruku explore the intersection between software and art.

Group sitting at table

Marietta Center for Advanced Academic’s Stella Kilpatrick (photographer) and Progress Math’s Tony Dunbar work to modify an art and coding integrated activity for their student George, who has visual and verbal disabilities.

Holding small worms with gloves

McNair Middle School’s Robert Russo and Wundergrub’s Akissi Stokes introduce their students to the world of bugs as sources of protein.

Science ATL is grateful for all of the contributions provided by our students in CSO and our partnerships in SPSP,  and we look forward to the transformative ways they will continue to support the school-to-STEM pipeline.

You can find more information about both the CSO and SPSP programs by checking out their websites:



The Georgia Chief Science Officers Program Congratulates the Graduating CSO Class of 2022

Collage of the Georgia Chief Science Officers Class of 2022

The Georgia Chief Science Officers Program is proud to present the GA CSO Class of 2022. As CSOs, student leaders design and implement STEM projects and events in their schools that raise student awareness about the diverse world of STEM. Since 2018, students around the metro Atlanta area have participated in the program, bringing unique STEM experiences to their peers and community. The illustrious seniors of the Class of 2022 have worked with fierce dedication throughout their time in the program to bring quality STEM action plans to the broader metro Atlanta community. Their hard work has provided opportunities in STEM for hundreds of students within their communities, and they have each left a lasting legacy within the GA CSO Program. Check out our spotlights below!

Aishat Adebisi

South Cobb High School, Cobb County

First CSO Year: 2019

Action Plan Highlights:Launching a podcast to interview STEM professionals from underrepresented groups, creating a student-driven tutorial program to fill in pandemic-induced learning gaps among peers

Best CSO Memory: Actually implementing and seeing the impact of her action plans every year!

Plans for Next Year: Attending the University of Washington in St. Louis.

Amelia Akins

South Paulding High School, Paulding County

First CSO Year: 2020

Action Plan Highlights: Conducting STEMonstrations with more than 150 students from her school’s feeder elementary school over the course of several student-led events.

Best CSO Memory: Sharing ideas with CSOs and supporting them in their action plans.


Ananda Broadnax

Banneker High School, Fulton County

First CSO Year: 2020

Action Plan Highlights: Developing both a COVID-awareness program during the height of the pandemic and creating a CRISPR studies program as an introduction to genetic science for peers.

Best CSO Memory: Finding peers who share her love of STEM, action and implementation.

Plans for Next Year: Attending Stanford University


Armani Oliver

Lovejoy High School, Clayton County

First CSO Year: 2020

Action Plan Highlights: Developing a STEM competition for 10 science classes within Lovejoy High and working with administration and teachers to navigate the transition to virtual STEM opportunities.

Best CSO Memory: Working with fellow CSO Breanna to bring STEM experiences to Lovejoy High.

Breanna Braddock

Lovejoy High School, Clayton County

First CSO Year: 2019

Action Plan Highlights: Creating a STEAM club to provide students opportunities to interact with STEAM beyond the classroom all year.

Best CSO Memory: Working 2 years strong with fellow CSO Armani.


Luke Leathers

Paulding County High School, Paulding County

First CSO Year: 2021

Action Plan Highlights: Conducting experiments with the students from feeder middle and elementary schools using gel electrophoresis to create a cladogram of various Georgia-native bird species.

Best CSO Memory: Judging the enthusiasm of CSOs on the biweekly calls.

Manitcha Kheim

Manitca Kheim

Forest Park High School, Clayton County

First CSO Year: 2019

Action Plan Highlights: Developing an interdisciplinary outdoor learning garden in collaboration with several content departments across grade levels.

Best CSO Memory: Getting support from her advisors even after they’d transitioned to new jobs outside of the school.


Natalia Sanchez-Munguia

Martha Ellen Stilwell School of the Arts, Clayton County

First CSO Year: 2020

Action Plan Highlights: Developing a STEAM club that connected peers driven in the arts to STEM experiences.

Best CSO Memory: Working with other CSOs to come up with ways to work around the challenges of the pandemic.


Samyukta Iyer

Wheeler High School, Cobb County

First CSO Year: 2019

Action Plan Highlights: Developing a coding day for students within the school community, creating student-driven tutorial opportunities for peers, supporting the CSO International Community as a Georgia State Representative

Best CSO Memory: Sharing leadership and responsibilities with the Georgia CSO Cabinet as well as the CSO International community.

Plans for Next Year: Attending Georgia Tech

Congratulations again to the GA CSO Class of 2022. You are bound to change the world as leaders, and we look forward to cheering your continued success!

The Georgia Chief Science Officers program is sponsored by UPS, International Paper, Lockheed Martin, Cox Enterprises, Delta Community, and Norfolk Southern, and is part of the CSO International consortium. For more information, please visit the CSO program page.

Gifts for Science Lovers

Pink ALEX mascot with "Gifts for Science Lovers" on a chemistry background

ALEX has put together her list of gift ideas just in time for the holidays! What better gift than the gift of science? We’ve compiled a list of science books for all ages, sustainable household gifts, and science games. And if you want to shop and support our organization, shop the Science ATL Store!


We love reading and have had many authors visit over the years at the Atlanta Science Festival. ALEX’s list below includes books by our ASF author friends and many more. Stop by one of Atlanta’s local independent bookstores to buy them for your favorite science lover or check them out online.

For even more ideas, see the National Science Teachers Association’s list of Outstanding Science Trade Books.

Under the Stars by Lisa Harvey-Smith

Under the Stars by Lisa Harvey-Smith

For younger science fans:

Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson

Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson

For older science enthusiasts:

MAGAZINES (Print and Online)

Science magazines for all ages

If you want to keep the science going all year round, consider one of ALEX’s favorite magazines!


If you’ve read as much science as you can and want some other gift ideas, ALEX has a few picks for the household that help save the earth and the species that live here.


Games are another great way to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math at home. Check out some of these favorites this holiday season:


Shop Science ATL and Atlanta Science Festival Merch

You can now shop exclusive Science ATL and Atlanta Science Festival merch online! Grab your “Science Y’all” t-shirts, commemorative Atlanta Science Festival merchandise, and gifts to celebrate Atlanta’s science community! Shop the Science ATL Store here.

And always, to keep inspiring curiosity in Atlanta, consider a donation to Science ATL in honor of your favorite science fan. Science ATL Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing people together through the wonder of science.

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

Collage of three books: Whale Snow by Chie Sakakibara, Fresh Banana Leaves by Jessica Hernandez, and Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Before there were laboratories and maker spaces, there was only the earth and what it contained and produced. The lens through which indigenous people made sense of the world came from their relationship with the land. While technological and scientific progress expands our knowledge and understanding in important and astonishing ways, Native American scientists and cultural leaders simultaneously illustrate the way indigenous intelligence adds a vital perspective to modern science. 

Robin Wall Kimmerer is among the voices drawing attention to this significant intersection. Her work demonstrates how science is, above all, a way of knowing, and, as such, can be intertwined and enhanced by integrating the other ways of knowing scientists bring with them – religious, racial, linguistic, cultural, and beyond. Her gorgeous and acclaimed book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants (2017) weaves scientific and indigenous stories together. Kimmerer is part of a vital and growing community of scientists illustrating how indigenous knowledge and methods are central to their scientific explorations. 

This work provides a different lens through which to think about scientific information, one that dissolves the sense of otherness in objects of scientific inquiry and invites the expertise and experiences of different fields and cultures to contribute to the enterprise of science. It emphasizes the reciprocity of our relationship with the things we study and use for study, and imagines, as Kimmerer writes, “a time when the intellectual monoculture of science will be replaced with a polyculture of complementary knowledges” (139). 

One way we can make science more accessible and equitable is to recognize how it intersects with other bodies of knowledge and the experiences of groups typically underrepresented in scientific careers. By widening the lens through which we think and communicate about science, we also expand which information or ideas are considered relevant to scientific ways of knowing.  

During Native American Heritage Month, Science ATL encourages you to explore some of these or other investigations at the intersection of indigenous and scientific knowledge: