Sometimes it’s been difficult to make a connection between Girl Scouting and STEM. Activities seemed too “academic” for girls – missing the fun and best parts of the Girl Scout experience. Volunteers were lacking resources if they did not have STEM expertise, and parents were more puzzled than excited because the mindset was that Girl Scouts was about cookies and camping. Our focus on STEM – which we knew was important for girls future success and aligned with their current interests, seemed like it didn’t fit in.
Fast forward to the release of our 23 new badges focused on science, technology, engineering and math and it’s a super exciting new time for Girl Scouts! The largest addition of new badges in a decade, these new offerings take a progressive approach to STEM and nudge girls to explore new concepts and try new things. Girls can create algorithms, design robots and racecars, go on environmentally conscious camping trips, collect data in the great outdoors, try their hand at engineering, and so much more. Having content that is best in class and developed in partnership with our cutting-edge organizations like NASA, Code.org, the Society of Women Engineers, and the outdoor-focused Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has transformed the image of Girl Scouts and will attract families who might have not otherwise considered us an option.
While the badges introduce girls to specific contemporary STEM topics – like robotics or engineering, for example - each experience also reinforces our G.I.R.L. attributes. We are helping girls to think like inventors and creators, and to be inquisitive and thorough. We are challenging them to think outside the box and explore new topics and ways of doing things. All of these skills are important in our 21st century economy and will help girls succeed, no matter what career path they ultimately choose.
At the Career Café roundtables at our recent Girl Leadership Summit, the tables with women from tech-oriented companies and jobs were very popular. Regardless of the stereotypes, we know that girls are interested in STEM and many just need us to encourage them to explore and stick with that interest. Another great way for girls to be part of the Girl Scout STEM experience is to join us at our annual STEM Conference (coming January 14, 2018).
As Girl Scouts, we believe there is boundless passion, determination, and courage in every girl. Our job is to create that place where she can explore, develop skills and unleash her potential. Let’s do all we can to open girls’ minds to the possibilities and potential that STEM learning can bring their way!