15 New Girl Scout Badges Promote STEM
- By Dian Schaffhauser
In the largest rollout of new badges in a decade, Girl Scouts of the USA has introduced 15 specifically tied to STEM. The youth organization worked with the Society of Women Engineers, GoldieBlox, Code.org, SciStarter and WGBH's Design Squad to create the new experiences. Among the doings girls will be encouraged to try: designing robots and race cars, creating algorithms, trying engineering and collecting data (in the great outdoors).
At the same time Girl Scouts has introduced a new digital volunteer toolkit to help adults plan meetings and activities and track badge progress.
Among the new badges:
- "How Robots Move," in which the girls design robots and make them move after learning how they're built and programmed;
- "Roller Coaster Design Challenge," where the girls make a simple roller coaster car, build a model of a roller coaster and test it; and
- "Leap Bot Design Challenge," to help girls learn about design thinking, gravity and force using springs.
The introduction of content covering science, technology, engineering and math didn't come out of the blue. Last year, the organization's research institute published "How Girl Scout STEM Programs Benefit Girls," a report examining the benefits girls receive when they participate in STEM programming through the Girl Scouts. The report said that 160,000 scouts do STEM activities annually, and most local councils offer members more than 10 STEM programs each year.
The researchers also found that:
- 77 percent of girls said that because of Girl Scouts, they were considering a career in technology;
- 62 percent said they "seek challenges and learn from setbacks," compared to 42 percent of non-Girl Scouts; and
- A majority developed a "more equitable perception of the relative abilities of men and women in STEM."
"While the content and intensity of STEM programs vary, they are often developed with the same impact goals in mind--increasing girls' interest in STEM, increasing girls' confidence in their STEM-related abilities, educating girls about STEM careers and exposing girls to STEM professionals, to name a few," the report stated.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.