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Girl Scouts has so many resources to explore STEM with your troop, including the 42 new badges released last summer. Exploring STEM topics builds confidence and resilience as girls try new things, and creates a sense of accomplishment and excitement as new opportunities for their future open up. If you and your troop are interested, consider starting a Girl Scout STEM club! Starting a club is an easy way to collect likeminded and enthusiastic girls and volunteers all interested in STEM, and focus on those activities in a way you might not be able to in your wider troop. Here are four easy steps to get started:
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Step 1: Plan It!
The first step in creating your STEM club is to find your purpose. There are two essential questions that need to be answered: who will join, and why are you starting the club in the first place.
Who will participate?
Are there girls who like STEM or are willing to try it? In my troop, most of the girls did not know much about STEM, but they were willing to try after seeing the many fun projects that they could do. While finding your audience for the STEM club, it may be the perfect time to also have some simple demonstrations and projects that the girls can do to be exposed to STEM.
What is your goal?
Before starting your STEM club, you will want to find an attainable goal for your troop. Do you want your troop to develop critical thinking skills? Do you want to build confidence? Help your troop think creatively? Whatever your goal may be, keep it in mind as your start your club. Also, when your club is ready, you can start by creating a club Constitution with the girls, where the mission statement and rules are outlined.
Pro Tip: When setting goals for your club, make sure they are SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based! Learn more about setting SMART goals and apply that knowledge to this project!
Step 2: Get Support
After getting a general idea of which girls are interested, reach out to their parents for a mandatory meeting. This meeting is essential because the STEM club will need a lot of support from parents. Later on, there will be times where parents are needed for carpool rides to science exhibits, talks, or competitions. Most importantly, the parents of the girls need to be able to understand and encourage their girls in their STEM journey.
Step 3: Get Inspired
Now that you have approval from the members’ parents, find ways to kick start your club’s enthusiasm and energy. One way is to start to find the fun activities that your troop can take part in. With the main organizers of the club, set up a monthly spreadsheet that details STEM-related events. Some ideas for this could be hands-on projects, science museums, trips to visitor centers for NASA. You can also get mentors and women in STEM to come to your troop to talk about their own experiences. To find women STEM mentors near you, check out FabFems.org.
Another option is to register for STEM competitions. Although this is not required to have a successful club, it serves as a great opportunity and learning experience for the girls to apply their skills. Start by looking at companies such as LEGO, which has the FIRST Inspires program with super valuable tips, resources, and events for learners of all ages. Seeing my own troop’s STEM club work towards the LEGO competition, I could see that there was pure motivation and fun involved in creating their very own robot!
Step Four: Share Your Experience
Throughout the year, make sure to take photos and videos to remind the club of all of the great things they have accomplished and the places they have gone. One great way to do this is to use a shared album like Google Photos, where contributors can add photos and videos. Share this with all of your Girl Scout families and relive the memories!
What to do next:
- Dive into STEM! Girl Scouts has a STEM program for every grade level and every interest, with badge topics ranging from astronomy to etymology, chemistry to natural science.
- Astronomy is absolutely stellar, but when you study the stars with your troop, it positively sparkles. The GSNorCal Astronomy Club meetings offer opportunities to develop your skill and passion for astronomy throughout the troop year.
- Looking for your next troop project? Maybe a machine is the answer! Your Girl Scouts can build nifty robots and inventions, all while earning badges!
- What starts in Girl Scouts continues into the rest of her life. Read Ashley’s personal story of how she became interested in STEM, and how leaders, volunteers, and other older Girl Scouts can inspire other girls to explore the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
- Whether they’re trying a new science experiment or trekking off to camp, GSNorCal provides resources for Building Strong Girls who will lead tomorrow.
Ashley Dang—Ashley is an Ambassador Girl Scout from the Northern California Council. She started Girl Scouts during fifth grade, and has loved it ever since. In her troop, she actively works with her leaders to plan ideas and activities. Besides scouting, she enjoys soaking up the California sun, swimming, and learning to play music from movie soundtracks.