Chief Science Officers


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TED SIMONS: TONIGHT'S EDITION OF ARIZONA TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION LOOKS AT A LOCAL SCIENCE AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION PROGRAM THAT'S ATTRACTED THE INTEREST OF THE WHITE HOUSE. IT'S CALLED THE CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER PROGRAM AND WAS DEVELOPED BY JEREMY BABENDURE, A PROFESSOR AT ASU'S SCHOOL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES AND ALSO WITH US, IS DOMINIQUE BROWNING. A CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER HERE FROM CASA VERDE. CHIEF OFFICER SCIENCE PROGRAM, WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

JEREMY BABENDURE: THIS IS THE FIRST OF A KIND OF THE THOUGHT IS WE'RE TALKING WITH PEOPLE ABOUT WORKFORCE AND EDUCATION AND ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT WHAT DO WE WANT TO DO WITH KIDS BUT OFTEN WE NEVER SEE KIDS IN THE ROOM, WE'RE BRAINSTORMING BUT NEVER HEAR FROM THE KIDS SO WHY NOT CREATE AN AVENUE FOR KIDS TO FIGURE OUT WHO IS THEIR VOICE FOR STEM ENOVATION.

TED SIMONS: AGES?

JEREMY BABENDURE: SIXTH TO 12TH GRADE.

TED SIMONS: AND BASICALLY THE STUDENT-LED WAY TO INCREASE INTEREST IN STEM EDUCATION.

JEREMY BABENDURE : IT'S EXCITING, IT'S LIKE YOU HAVE THE PRESIDENT AND SECRETARY AND DIFFERENT POSITIONS IT SCHOOLS THEY RUN OFF FOR A CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER IN THE SCHOOL.

TED SIMONS: YOU'RE THE CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER AT YOUR HIGH SCHOOL. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THIS?

DOMINIQUE BROWNING: I FOUND OUT FROM MY TEACHER, ACTUALLY, WHO HEARD DIRECTLY FROM THE SCI TECH FESTIVAL. WHY NOT 22 PUT ONE OF OUR STUDENTS INTO THE POSITION THAT IT WAS CREATED.

TED SIMONS: AND AS FAR AS YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES -- FIRST, HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER.

DOMINIQUE BROWNING: SECOND YEAR.

TED SIMONS: YOU'RE A VETERAN, YOU KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON, WHAT'S THE ACTIVITY LOAD FOR THE CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER?

DOMINIQUE BROWNING: IT STARTS WITH BEING ELECTED. YOU HAVE TO BE ELECTED AND GO THROUGH THE PROCESS AND GIVE SPEECHES AND SORT OF START OFF WITH THAT AND THEN GO TO A SUMMER INSTITUTE WHERE YOU LEARN ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT SKILLS THAT YOU NEED IN ORDER TO PERFORM THE TASKS THAT YOU NEED LATER OPEN IN THE YEAR.

TED SIMONS: THAT'S HOW IT WORKS, ISN'T IT. YOU'RE PREPPED AND PRIMED AND GO BACK TO SCHOOL AND SUPPOSED TO RALLY THE TROOPS.

JEREMY BABENDURE: WHAT'S COOL ABOUT THE INSTITUTE, WE GARNER A LOT OF SUPPORT FROM THE SCI TECH FESTIVAL. AND WE'RE GETTING PEOPLE TO COME IN AND WORK WITH THE STUDENTS, NETWORKING AND P.R. AND STRATEGIC PLANNING AND DURING THE YEAR THEY HAVE TOUGH DIFFERENT FOCUS AREAS ONE IS TO IMPACT SOMETHING AT THEIR SCHOOL AND THE SECOND IN THEIR COMMUNITY. IT MIGHT BE SPEAKING AT A CONFERENCE OR LEASING A PANEL DISCUSSION OR MEETING WITH THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE AND TALKING ABOUT EDUCATION OR WITH CONGRESSMAN GRIJALVA.

TED SIMONS: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, WHAT HAVE YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED?

DOMINIQUE BROWNING: I'VE TRIED TO COMBINE MY POSITION WITH BEING ABLE TO BRING THIS ATTENTION TO STEM EDUCATION. TO MY SCHOOL. AND WE DON'T HAVE IT AND MY SCHOOL IS GOING TO BE SHUT DOWN DUE TO LACK OF FUNDING AND I'M TRYING TO GET SUPPORT AND KEEP IT GOING ON THE CAMPUS WE'RE LOCATED ON.

TED SIMONS: HOW COME IT'S GETTING SHUT DOWN.

DOMINIQUE BROWNING: A LACK OF FUNDING, LACK OF INTEREST AND NOT AS MANY STUDENTS THAT ARE INTERESTED IN THE STEM CAREER. MORE THAN JUST GENERAL.

TED SIMONS: OK, I'M ONE OF YOUR FELLOW STUDENTS, OUT THERE GOOFING AROUND. HOW DO YOU GET ME INTERESTED IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATH?

DOMINIQUE BROWNING: I'LL SHOW YOU THE WORLD AROUND YOU, I'LL GIVE YOU A DIFFERENT WAY OF TRYING TO THINK OF HOW THINGS WORK. JUST EVEN YOUR CELLPHONE, THAT IS COMPLETELY ENGINEERED AND YOU'RE ON IT ALL THE TIME. SO -- YOU CAN'T HAVE THAT WITHOUT STEM.

TED: THAT'S THE IDEA. BASICALLY SHOW YOUR FELLOW STUDENTS THAT STEM IS MORE THAN JUST A REQUIREMENT AND A BORING CLASS TO SIT THROUGH.

JEREMY BABENDURE: THERE'S TWO INTRIGUING CULTURAL DYNAMICS HAPPENING HERE. YOU HAVE A STUDENT ELECTED BY THEIR PEERS AND IF THEY'RE ELECTED THEY HAVE SOME LEVEL OF INFLUENCE WITH THEIR PEERS AND, HOPEFULLY, COMMUNICATE THE CASE FOR STRATEGICALLY THAN SOMEONE JUST APPOINTED OR JUST THE SCIENCE KID OF THE SECOND THING, HAVING A WELL-SPOKEN STUDENT IN SETTINGS LIKE THIS ON TV OR CONFERENCES, AT THE WHITE HOUSE, HAVING WELL-SPOKEN STUDENTS IN THE COMMUNITY IS NOT SOMETHING THAT WE ADULTS THINK ABOUT. IT'S HELPING TO CHANGE OUR THINKING ABOUT KIDS TO BE PART OF THAT CONVERSATION.

TED SIMONS: DO YOU NOTICE, THE RESPONSE DIFFERENT? IS THE RESPONSE WHAT YOU EXPECTED BEING A CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER?

DOMINIQUE BROWNING: BETWEEN BEING A STUDENT AND ADULT?

TED SIMONS: YEAH.

DOMINIQUE BROWNING: IT'S DIFFERENT, EVERYONE WANTS TO HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY, YOU'RE THE CENTER OF ATTENTION AND EVERYONE COMES TO YOU AND IF YOU COME TO THEM, THEY FEEL HONORED JUST TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE. WE'RE YOUNG PROFESSIONALS AND WOW! WE HAVE A GREAT FUTURE AHEAD OF US.

TED SIMONS: YEAH, HOW DID YOU GET THIS STARTED?

JEREMY BABENDURE: PART OF IT, YOU GO INTO THESE MEETINGS AND TALKING ABOUT FUTURE STEM AND EDUCATION ALL THE TIME. AND WE'RE BUSINESSES AND TALKING ABOUT MARKET RESEARCH, THE PEOPLE GOING INTO THE FUTURE WORK AS FAR AS ARE THE KIDS AND WHY NOT HAVE THEM -- WORKFORCE ARE THE KIDS AND WHY NOT HAVE THEM AT THE TABLE. BUT HOW DO YOU SELECT THEM SO THAT THE -- THE NICE THINGS ABOUT THE SELECTION PROCESS, IT'S NATURAL SELECTION, YOU HAVE THE STUDENTS PICK WHO THEY WANT.

TED SIMONS: YOU'VE GOT TO MAKE SURE THE STUDENTS PICK SOMEONE WHO KNOWS A LITTLE BIT ABOUT STEM, CORRECT?

JEREMY BABENDURE: WE HAVE 250 CSO'S AND I'VE SEEN ONE THAT HAS -- ONE OF THE STUDENTS THAT WENT TO D.C., SHE'S FROM A SCHOOL CALLED MICHAEL ANDERSON AND CALLED HERSELF THE POPULAR KID AND SHE LIKED SCIENCE SO SHE CAN GIVE EXAMPLES HOW SHE'S BEEN ABLE TO GET HER FRIENDS TO GO ON A PATH TO GET INTERESTED IN STEM AND THE SHE PROBABLY WOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN APPOINTED TO THE POSITION.

TED SIMONS: PRESIDENT OBAMA CALLED IT A MODEL FOR THE FUTURE OF THE COUNTRY. THAT'S STRONG STUFF THERE.

JEREMY BABENDURE: THAT'S COOL.

TED SIMONS: YEAH, AND AS FAR AS YOU'RE CONCERNED, WHAT'S THE FUTURE FOR YOU? WHAT'S A CAREER GOAL FOR SOMEONE WHO IS A CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER?

DOMINIQUE BROWNING: TO TIE IN EVERYTHING I'VE LEARNED HERE AND TRY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. THAT'S ALL I COULD ASK FOR.

TED SIMONS: GOOD LUCK AND CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING A CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER. SOUNDS LIKE A POSITION ON STAR TREK. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE, THANKS FOR JOINING US.

ANNOUNCER: WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS, COMMENTS AND CONCERNS VIA EMAIL AT ARIZONA [email protected]

Arizona State University School of Molecular Sciences professor Jeremy Babendure has created a program that has grabbed the interest of the White House and other states. It’s a Chief Science Officer program, where a 6th to 12th grade student is elected by their peers to represent their school in STEM and innovation. President Obama has called the CSO program “a model for the future of our country.” Babendure and a CSO will discuss the program.

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