Girl Scouts from tiny Daisies to teen Ambassadors may earn 23 new badges focused on science, technology, engineering and math.
It’s the largest addition of new badges in a decade for Girl Scouts of the USA. The effort takes a progressive approach to STEM and also nudges girls to become citizen scientists using the great outdoors as their laboratory.
Among the new badges are those that introduce kindergarten and first graders to the world of robots and engineering. Scouts can learn basic programming and build prototypes to solve everyday problems. Older scouts will have the chance to enhance those skills, learning more about artificial intelligence, algorithms and how to formally present their work.
Other new badges focus on race car and aviation design using kits from GoldieBlox, a girl-focused toy company. The “leave no trace” approach to interacting with the environment and the study of meteorology by learning to predict weather patterns and potential hazards are among activities geared to new outdoors badges.
Cayla Hicks, 7, is grateful. She’s a Baltimore Brownie who’s interested in the “Designing Robots” badge.
“I want to be a scientist. I like building things and I like discovering things. Me and my brother — well, I usually ask my brother if he wants to look through my telescope. Usually he says no,” Cayla said as she recently demonstrated how to make a “robotic arm” out of sticks and fasteners.
Baby boomer Sylvia Acevedo, the CEO of the scouting group, was just like Cayla as a girl growing up in tiny Las Cruces, New Mexico.
“My troop leader looked at me and saw me looking at the stars, and she taught me that there were constellations, she taught me there were systems and patterns to the stars,” Acevedo said in a recent interview. “Because I got my science badge I developed that courage and that confidence to study science and math at a time when girls like me weren’t studying science and math. Girls like me, statistically, weren’t even finishing high school.”
Acevedo was one of the first Hispanic students, male or female, to earn a graduate engineering degree from Stanford University. The former tech executive’s first job was as a rocket scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
The new badges , some of which were requested by scouts themselves in a survey, are available starting this week.
Continue onto the New York Times to read the complete article.