Celebrating Civics and Our Country

July 4 is one of my favorite holidays but not just because it is also my birthday. The holiday reminds me to think about civics, history, and what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America.

No matter where you stand politically, in order to be an active engaged citizen, it’s important to understand the basics of government. According to the Nation’s Report Card , only 24 percent of eighth-graders are proficient in civics , and, per the Annenberg Public Policy Center, only two in five American adults can name all three branches of government. Civic education is very important because it teaches people how to participate in our democracy. The more people are knowledgeable, the more likely they are to be engaged citizens, and build a stronger community. One study by the National Civic Literacy Board showed that “Students who demonstrated greater learning of America’s history and its institutions were more engaged in citizenship.”

Civic education has declined in recent years. In the state of California, high school seniors are only required to take a half year of Civics Education. Due to a switch to the Common Core curriculum there has been a drop in non-targeted subjects like civics (Harvard Kennedy School), .Science Technology Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M.) has become the path to a good job. I know many students who find civics boring because they don’t see how it can help them find a job and be successful.

Girl Scout Silver Award Bridges the Gap

I have been a Girl Scout since kindergarten. As a middle school student, I wanted to find a project that I could complete during quarantine. I reached out to the Eden Area League of Women Voters and worked with them to create a program to address the lack of civic engagement in my community. I created Civics Pro, a civics and citizenship education enrichment program. Civics Pro offers a fun, free, online learning hub that people off all ages can use to learn about civics. It includes an exciting Kahoot learning game, civics content, and a short practice civics quiz where those who score at least 60% can earn a certificate. The site also includes 50 Ways to be a Great Citizen, and other helpful resources and links. Students can go online and complete modules over the summer when they might have a little extra time, or during the school year as an after-school enrichment program. Members of the community can also learn about civics by visiting their local library and viewing the display.

In order to promote Civics Pro, I created a social media campaign that featured the civics question of the day and posted it on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I also created educational poster board displays that include all of the civics exam questions and shared it at the public libraries in San Lorenzo and San in order to help the community learn about civics and citizenship just in time for Independence Day.

Making an Impact

I measured and evaluated the impact of my project in a few ways. First, I looked at Google Analytics to see how many people took the quiz or engaged with my site. I also looked at user feedback and website polling. I noticed that 100% of survey respondents found that the site increased their knowledge. Based on the Google Analytics, I saw the percentage of respondents who performed well on the test after reviewing materials on the site. All of them scored above the minimum 60% level to pass a sample civics exam.

My local public library reported that many people read the poster boards filled with civics facts and picked up a flyer to learn more about my website to learn even more about civics. I also shared my project with my social studies teacher to enrich other students. I returned to the library this year to share my civics display again right before July 4th and left it on display all month.

What I Learned

The Silver Award is a lot of work, but it pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me develop new skills including how to be a leader, how to make a presentation, how to work with other adults, and how to solve problems.

I connected with my community in many different ways. I spent several hours doing civics research and creating content and the Kahoot. I developed technical skills like how to use Canva, Google Forms, Google Sheets, Kahoot, Google Analytics and about website design. I also learned how to promote my project and share it with my community.

At the end of the project, I was invited to present a summary to the Eden Area League of Women Voters. I created a slide presentation and practiced it every day. I was very nervous, but the ladies were very supportive and kind to me. They liked the presentation so much that they invited me to present it a second time for their annual meeting. The Mayor of Hayward attended and offered to help share it with other school districts.

I learned about many ways to be a great citizen by researching and creating links to 50 Ways to Be a Great Citizen. I discovered that I can help my community if I work hard and have a good mindset.

Take Action:

Independence Day will always be special to me because of my birthday I would encourage others to learn about the country to make the day special for them as well.

An easy way to do this is by visiting Civics Pro here: https://civics-pro.weebly.com and share it with a friend or teacher. Check out the learning activities, games, and challenge yourself to complete the modules and earn a certificate. There are some great ideas about ways to make a difference in your local community and you can take the pledge to be active in your community.

You can also earn Citizen Badges through Girl Scouts: https://blog.girlscouts.org/2020/06/Citizen-Badges.html

Taking on the Silver Award was a lot of work, but I was proud that I took on something that made an impact on my community. I would encourage you to be a change-maker in your community too!

Virginia Glock – is a Cadette Girl Scout with Girl Scouts of Northern California. Virginia joined Girl Scouts at the age of 5 and has been a part of the organization ever since kindergarten. (Shout out to Troop 33732– woot woot!) Virginia has done everything from selling cookies to Girl Scout camps, to Thinking Day to completing her Bronze and Silver Awards during a pandemic. 

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