The Georgia Chief Science Officers program welcomed a new class of 40 student leaders last month at its second annual Leadership Training Institute at Georgia Tech. The middle and high school students, who had been elected by their schools as Chief Science Officers (CSOs) last spring, participated in sessions to enhance their leadership, networking, and project planning skills. This training kicks off a year of professional development and coaching for the students, empowering them to create positive change in their communities that enhances awareness and access to STEM opportunities for their peers.

“Seeing all of the students at the institute so eager to make an impact in their schools and communities was truly inspiring,” said CSO Samantha, a member of our Georgia Leadership Council. “Without this program, I would not be the leader I am today and never would have had the opportunities and connections to people all around Georgia that I do now. I wholeheartedly believe this program is making a difference in STEM around the world and will continue to do so.”

To emphasize our focus on student leadership, the training sessions were led by students on the Georgia CSO Leadership Council (Samantha, Skylar, Aditya and Andy) together with visiting students from the CSO International Leadership Council. We were honored to have a panel of STEM professionals from NCR, UPS, and AT&T, as well as exhibitors from the Georgia Space Grant Consortium, Georgia Tech Research Institute, and Atlanta Science Festival.

My entire life I’ve been told that I can’t do what I want or that I needed to keep my expectations “realistic.” I began to believe it and I fell victim to a group mentality that I was going to end up normal like everybody else. I knew in the back of my mind that I didn’t want that to become my reality but I didn’t know how to change it, and that’s where the CSO Leadership Training Institute came in. It gave me the confidence and the support to reassure me that I was capable of making an impact and creating change. It taught me that it’s okay to fail but just because you do; doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get back up and try again because in reality, all we can give this world is our best. So why not try?

One of the most impressive aspects of this year’s Leadership Training Institute was the level of ownership and camaraderie exhibited by all of the students involved. From the visiting CSOs from other states who provided guidance and support, to the Georgia Student Leadership Council who conducted the modules, and all of the Georgia CSOs exhibiting teamwork and appreciation throughout the workshop, it’s evident that this is truly a program ‘for students, by students‘.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to be involved, and I look forward to seeing our continued growth and evolution!

Ultimately, the CSOs developed Action Plans to enrich the STEM communities at their school. Students’ initial plans include running a science book club, producing regular STEM-themed morning announcements, and constructing an outdoor classroom. In the coming weeks, CSOs will refine these ideas in collaboration with their Site Advisors, pitch their Plans to their principals, and then lead the changes at their schools and in their communities. This year is off to an exciting start, and we can’t wait to see how our Chief Science Officers will change the world.

See pictures below from our Leadership Training Institute!

Congratulations to the 2019-2020 CSO SCHOOLS

  • Amana Academy (Fulton)
  • Babb Middle School (Clayton)
  • Banneker High School (Fulton)
  • Booker T. Washington High School (Atlanta)
  • Brown Middle School (Atlanta)
  • Clarkston High School (Dekalb)
  • Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (Atlanta)
  • Crawford Long Middle School (Atlanta)
  • Forest Park High School (Clayton)
  • Frederick Douglass High School (Atlanta)
  • Hollis Innovation Academy (Atlanta)
  • John Lewis Invictus Academy (Atlanta)
  • Johns Creek High School (Fulton)
  • King Middle School (Atlanta)
  • KIPP WAYS (Atlanta)
  • Paulding County High School (Paulding)
  • Price Middle School (Atlanta)
  • Sandy Springs Charter Middle School (Fulton)
  • South Atlanta High School (Atlanta)
  • South Cobb High School (Cobb)
  • South Paulding High School (Paulding)
  • Tucker High School (Dekalb)
  • Tucker Middle School (Dekalb)
  • Webb Bridge Middle School (Fulton)
  • Wheeler High School (Cobb)


The 2019-2020 Georgia Chief Science Officers wish to thank all of the amazing partners and guests who made this Leadership Training Institute possible, including The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, UPS, NCR, United Way of Greater Atlanta, UCB, Georgia Tech Research Institute, International Paper, Delta Community, Wei Eason, Helen Smith, Aldrin Torres, Sophia Chapar, Nathan Weiss, Jack Wood, Lori Skillings, Mike Lalle, CSO International, Kelly Greene, Jasper Peña, Caillou Peña, Shalae Clemens, Marissa Nolte, and our hosts at Georgia Tech Global Learning Center and Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center.

We are recruiting STEM professionals to serve as Leadership Coaches to work with individual students and help them advance their Action Plans. To get involved, contact Georgia CSO Program Director Eric Knapp at [email protected]

Georgia Chief Science Officers is a program of Science ATL, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing people together through the wonder of science. The mission began in 2014 with the Atlanta Science Festival, co-founded by Emory University, Georgia Tech, and the Metro Atlanta Chamber. This annual two-week event, presented by Delta Air Lines, has brought science programming to more than 200,000 people in metro Atlanta. Additional Science ATL initiatives and events increase public interest in and appreciation of science in Atlanta with easy access points to science, technology, engineering and math throughout the year.