This week, The Society for Science & the Public announced this year’s 50 Advocates who will actively work to find underrepresented students opportunities to participate and compete in science research competitions, inspiring them to engage in STEM fields.

This week, The Society for Science & the Public announced this year’s 50 Advocates who will actively work to find underrepresented students opportunities to participate and compete in science research competitions, inspiring them to engage in STEM fields.

Now in its fourth year, the grant program chose its 2018-2019 advocates from almost 250 applicants from across the nation.

The only educator from Oklahoma to be chosen was Shawnee Middle School teacher Cheyenne Branscum.

“The Society is thrilled to have Cheyenne as part of the 2018-2019 Advocate Grant Program,” Caitlin Sullivan, director, Outreach and equity programs for The Society for Science & the Public, said.

Branscum said she is seriously excited about the program; she will work with at least three to five students from underserved populations and help them compete in STEM fairs and competitions.

“What I plan to do is form three teams of Shawnee students in grades six through eight, especially pulling from our native population,” she said. “I will be encouraging them to explore topics that include renewable energy and conservation, though I will, of course, support their interests and passions.

She said she plans to have them compete in five events, including National Geographic’s GeoChallenge and regional ISEF.

Students won't have it easy, Branscum said, given the rigor of the competitions.

“They’ll be working on their projects after school and on weekends, but I know we have Shawnee students that have the drive — and have just needed the opportunity,” Branscum said.

“By building an awareness of science research opportunities and science competitions, the Society’s Advocates are setting students up to realize their full potential in STEM fields,” Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of Science News, said. “The program opens the door for all students, regardless of background, to have the opportunity to gain critical exposure to build a career in science. The Advocate Grant Program is making way for future leaders.”

By informing students about science competitions, helping them to navigate the application process, and imparting a thirst for scientific research, Advocates are implementing a STEM pipeline for students who may not have one otherwise. Students who compete in science competitions come away with critical skills, including the ability to write a research paper and communicate their work to peers and judges.

In addition to a $3,000 stipend, Advocates receive an all-expense paid weekend trip to Washington, D.C., in June for the Advocate Training Institute where they learn best practices, connect with each other, and receive training from Society staff.

Throughout their one-year term, Advocates connect with their cohort and Society staff in-person and through conference calls.

The Advocate Grant program is funded by Arconic Foundation, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and Regeneron.

About Society for Science & the Public

Society for Science & the Public is dedicated to the achievement of young scientists in independent research and to public engagement in science. Established in 1921, Society is a nonprofit whose vision is to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement.

For more information, visit www.societyforscience.org.