Posts Tagged ‘Engineering’


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!


Fostering the Next Generation of STEM Women through Girl Scouting

July 18, 2016


By Meridith Orr, Program Executive

Studies of women and girls’ participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education and careers is making headlines. Recently a story on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition explored how having so few women enrolled in STEM majors in college actually creates fewer opportunities for young women to feel confident in pursuing a STEM-related career.

The reason? A study at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst found that women who participate in STEM groups alongside other women feel more confident, energized and interested in pursuing a STEM career than in settings when they are the only woman in a group or in the minority.

In “Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math,” the Girl Scout Research Institute found that “girls who are interested in STEM are high achievers who have supportive adult networks and are exposed to STEM fields.” The report also found that many girls want to make a difference in the world and want to help people, yet they might not consider careers that use science and technology with the potential to change the way things are done, leading to change that helps people or improves the world.

More education is needed to help girls see that STEM careers can enable them to achieve their goals to help and serve. That’s where Girl Scouts can help! In a safe, all-girl setting, Girl Scouts of all ages have an ideal space in which to try science and engineering activities that they might not otherwise have attempted. Tips written especially for girls who may be thinking about STEM can be found here on our national web site.

Whether you’re a STEM professional or not, you, our amazing volunteers, can make all the difference for our girls! Encourage girls to pursue thought-provoking, educational opportunities such as our own Summer Science Camp, our TechnoQuest career mentoring days, and hands-on exploration events at museums, robotics and other activities leading to STEM-related badges.  Simply with your encouragement, you can plant the seeds to grow the next generation of STEM women professionals! To learn more about opportunities we offer, visit the Events Calendar on our website.







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