Archive for the ‘Girl Scouts’ Category


From an Eight-Pointed Star to the G.I.R.L. Agenda: Citizenship in Girl Scouting

February 5, 2018

Meridith Orr, Program Executive

“Name five things on which the comfort and welfare of your family depend, which are controlled by your Government.” – Scouting for Girls Proficiency test question for Citizen Merit Badge, 1927

“Girl Scouts is not an organization.  Girl Scouts is a Movement,” I was reminded by a volunteer who had been a Girl Scout for more than eighty years. I considered this important distinction and its role in shaping girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. Looking back on the earliest days of Girl Scouting, we are reminded how our Founder encouraged girls to do everything they could to make a difference wherever they lived.

A thorough understanding of the workings of government was encouraged by earning the Citizen Merit Badge. Symbolized by an eight-pointed star, the proficiency test consisted of 13 topical questions including “Who is responsible for the government of your country?” and “How can you help make your Government better?” The references for studying this badge included “The Women Voter’s Manual,” published in 1918, as well as several citizenship texts. However, the Citizen badge could only be earned by Girl Scouts who were First Class Scouts or girls at least sixteen years old.

A century later, the Movement has different ideas about how girls can lead and how early they can Take Action to be thoughtfully engaged citizens. Just this summer, the Daisy “Good Neighbor” badge was introduced to help our youngest members understand the idea of community, explore their local communities, and learn how to improve their communities by being a good neighbor.

Through the Citizen legacy badges in the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, Girl Scout Brownies learn how communities celebrate their citizens in “Celebrating Community,” while Juniors begin to learn the inner workings of legislatures to earn “Inside Government.”

Our older Girl Scouts follow a progressive education in civic action, too! Girl Scout Cadettes explore strategies for bringing people together in “Finding Common Ground,” studying differing opinions, learning about civil debate, the art of compromise and mediation. Seniors go “Behind the Ballot” to learn the ins and outs of electing people to office as well as the importance of voting. The “Public Policy” badge encourages a Girl Scout Ambassador to engage as a citizen for positive change by working to influence legislation important to her.

Now we have even more resources to help Girl Scouts of all ages as well as adult members advocate for issues important to them! The G.I.R.L. Agenda site provides age-specific handouts to make it easy for co-leaders to encourage girls to identify issues and join their voices with others in civil, creative ways to make a real impact. Girls can change the world and they will – with YOUR help and guidance!


STEM Badges in Girl Scouting: Then and Now

January 15, 2018


“Doing, not talking or writing is the principle of the Girl Scouts.”- Scouting for Girls, 1927

Girl Scouting and science go back a long way to the earliest days of our Movement. Proficiency tests and special medals in science included Bee-Keeper, Electrician, Rock Tapper and Star Gazer. The handbook gave local councils the ability to determine proficiency with the help of people “competent (in the opinion of the council) to judge it.” The tests were topic outlines of what a Girl Scout needed to know, as well as a list of reference books she could consult on her own or perhaps study with her sister Girl Scouts as a group during meetings.

“It is important that every Girl Scout should understand the winning of any one of the following Merit Badges does not mean that she is a finished expert in the subject,” stressed the guidelines in our early handbook. The Merit Badge indicated a girl’s “intelligent interest” in a subject, with knowledge of its broad principles and the ability to present some proof of her knowledge to the judge, going beyond merely reading up on the subject in a book.

The Electrician badge in the 1927 Scouting for Girls was symbolized by a lightning bolt.  Requirements included explaining the use of magnets for attraction and repulsion, as well as how they were used in the electric bell, telegraph and telephone. Girl Scouts learned to define low and high voltage current, how current was sent through wire to produce heat and light, as well as how it could be converted to energy to power a motor. Even in the late 1920s, Girl Scouts learned how they might rescue someone from contact with live wires and use electricity to resuscitate someone in shock!

Today, ninety years since the publication of the handbook, we’re teaching about robots! And, we’re giving girls an early start. With the “What Robots Do” badge, girls as young as 5-6 years old can learn about machines programmed to do things automatically, and to do jobs that humans can’t or don’t like to do. By the time a Daisy has completed the steps of the badge she can tell others what she has learned about robots, name some things that robots can do and team up with other girls to design her own robot.

In addition to robotics badges for younger Girl Scouts, there are new badges to teach about mechanical engineering and new Journeys themed to orient girls in grades K-5 to principles of engineering, computer programming, and the scientific method. For more information on the new STEM badges, go browse our badge explorer!  And we can look forward to new STEM badges and Journeys for older Girl Scouts to roll out next year! It’s an exciting time to be a Girl Scout!

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