By Meridith Orr, Program Executive
Whether it’s trekking across the globe or enjoying the outdoor life by the camp fire, Girl Scouts provides unique troop experiences that help girls explore their interests in a safe space. These specialty troop experiences include delving into the world of science and technology. Here at Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines, girls have embraced robotics as a means of having fun while developing skills to help them be ultra-competitive in the 21st century marketplace.
Our very own Gadget Girls have been Go-Getters in the robotics space since joining FIRST Robotics more than five years ago. One of only two all-girls teams in the state of North Carolina, the Gadget Girls welcomed middle- and high-school age girls from multiple counties including Wake, Franklin and Edgecombe to build lawn mower-sized machines capable of launching Frisbees, moving large crates, surmounting castle defenses and this year, placing large rotor gears on a “steam-powered” airship!
“In Gadget Girls, our Girl Scouts learn real-life engineering skills,” said Michaela Settle, the Gadget Girls’ coach and an alumna of our own FIRST robotics programs. “In working the challenge they kind of get tricked into learning important science, engineering and math by having fun, and they start to see why those subjects are important.”
Michaela’s mom Becky helps mentor the team and maintains the meeting and competition schedule for the Gadget Girls. She saw first-hand how the program helped her girls become confident and interested in science. Her youngest daughter, Alex, served a leadership role on the Gadget Girls team last season and now that she has graduated high school, will attend UNC-Greensboro to major in Biology.
“Robotics looks really good on college applications,” Becky told parents at a recent Gadget Girls interest meeting. “Plus, these girls get to work with mentors who are professionals in their field, so it helps them figure out what they might like to do later in life.”
As a Girl Scout team, the Gadget Girls have integrated our Girl Scout culture into their robot’s design as well as the team’s overall aesthetics and branding. The team wears green t-shirts with their custom-designed “cookie monster” logo, incorporate cookie boxes into the robot’s appearance and use cookie cases to form the walls of their mechanical pit area at competitions. Pink hard hats (worn by both mentors and girls) as well as pink and green tulle tu-tus also help make the Gadget Girls stand out in the FIRST North Carolina organization! Last year, the team won the FIRST Imagery Award twice in recognition of their design savvy.
With the new season approaching in January, the Gadget Girls are looking for girls to join in on the fun. Interested Girl Scouts can expect to gain valuable skills in mechanical and electrical engineering, programming, marketing, design, business, teamwork, and leadership. They’ll gain all sorts of knowledge from industry professionals while making new friends and tons of fun memories. How cool is that?
To find out more, contact Meridith Orr, Program Executive (firstname.lastname@example.org).