Students attend STEM leadership conference

Gorge-area  chief science officers are, front row, left to right, Leah Sandahl, seventh grade, Wy’east Middle School; Hailey Stuben, eighth grade, Wy’east Middle School; Marina Castenada, seventh grade, Wy’east Middle School; Megan Church, 11th grade, Hood River Valley High School; Grace Guertin, 10th grade, Hood River Valley High School; Emanuel Perez, 11th, grade Hood River Valley High School. Second row, left to right, Christy Christopher, STEM Hub coordinator; Diego Betancourt, 12th grade, Hood River Valley High School; Nelson VanCott, 10th grade, Hood River Valley High School; Kiernan Chown, seventh grade, Hood River Middle School; Sadie Smith, eighth grade, Hood River Middle School; Lucas Elliott, eighth grade, Hood River Middle School; Connor Sam, seventh grade, The Dalles Middle School. Back, left to right, Jesus Acosta, The Dalles Middle School adviser; Marquies Sagapolutele, eighth grade, The Dalles Middle School; Reese Sagapolutele, seventh grade, The Dalles Middle School; Jack McAllister, seventh grade, The Dalles Middle School. Not pictured: Maria Castaneda, eighth grade, Wy’east Middle School; Andrea Quintana Morales, 12th grade, Hood River Valley High School

Seventeen middle and high school students from Hood River and The Dalles convened with other student leaders from across the state for the Chief Science Officers Institute at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande.

Chief Science Officers is a nationwide program encouraging student leaders to work with their schools and communities to increase opportunities to engage with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Each student in attendance at the CSO Institute was elected by their peers to be Chief Science Officer for the 2018-2019 school year, said a press release.

At the CSO Institute, students gained leadership skills and learned how they can use STEM to impact their communities. For example, each student completed a design thinking challenge based on the issues Oregon is currently facing regarding waste production and the inability to recycle plastic in the state.

These students also began working on the action plans they will implement in the coming school year. The Dalles Middle School CSOs are interested in creating a drone construction after-school course for elementary students.

CSOs at Wy’east Middle School are planning to start a STEM lunch club. Hood River Valley High School CSOs want to visit local elementary schools to introduce hands-on STEM activities. CSOs at Hood River Middle School want to implement STEM Late Nights, evening STEM activities around wind-powered vehicles.

“I would like to see students work on solutions to world problems such as global warming, the increasing shortage of fresh water and fossil fuels, and world hunger,” said Hailey Stuben, eighth grade Chief Science Officer at Wy’east Middle School.

“If we work together to come up with ideas, plans and prototypes of solutions to these problems, we can make a positive impact on our world,” she said.

During the 2018-2019 school year, CSOs will work with faculty advisors at their schools, STEM mentors in their communities and the Columbia Gorge STEM Hub to ignite new opportunities in STEM and innovation, said a press release.

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