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Cybersecurity, robotics, space science, and more! In the past two years, GSUSA has released over 50 new STEM awards. But where to begin? We often hear our volunteers say things like, “I want to encourage the girls to explore STEM fields, but I don’t have a science background,” “I’m worried our troop can’t afford to explore STEM activities,” and “Where do I find these new STEM badges?”
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Do these questions sound familiar? If so, have no fear, the STEM team is here! In order to answer your questions, the GSNorCal STEM Staff is providing monthly STEM webinars focusing on specific topics. On Thursday, October 18, 2018, we presented an overview of the new STEM program to an audience of volunteers for the first time, and answered several questions. The recorded webinar and resources, as well as upcoming webinars, can be found under STEM Advisor on the Volunteer Learning Portal. Here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions:
Did you know that only 25 percent of STEM focused jobs are currently held by women? Yet across the grade levels, girls and boys perform equally well in STEM subjects. What is holding girls back? From a young age, girls absorb subtle and overt societal and cultural messaging that STEM is not for them, discouraging them from seeking out or succeeding in STEM as young women and adults.
The Girl Scouts STEM program is a great way to encourage girls’ interest and confidence in learning about STEM. These programs offer girls opportunities to develop leadership skills, persist through challenges, and practice critical thinking skills in a safe, all-girl environment, building the confidence necessary to pursue STEM careers.
Pro Tip: Check out our Trailhead post, How Girl Scout STEM Programs Benefit Girls to learn more!
What are the new STEM awards, and where can I find them?
Girl Scouts introduced 30 new awards in July of 2018, and 23 STEM awards in 2017. They range from new Journeys for engineering and citizen science, to robotics, environmental stewardship, and more! Keep exploring with this full list of new STEM awards for each program level.
The badge requirements are available for purchase from the Girl Scout store as paper copies and as downloadable PDFs. All the girl booklets should be supplemented with meeting plans and resources available on the VTK. In addition to resources for the badges, all the new Journeys are also available on the VTK. In contrast to years past, there are no Journey books for girls or leaders, so make sure you check out this marvelous online portal!
The VTK is a magical gateway to all the new awards. You can find detailed meeting plans, background information, exciting visuals, helpful glossaries, worksheets, and more! All troop leaders and Service Unit-level volunteers have access, so ask them for support in getting the materials you need. And if the VTK is new to you, we have resources to walk you through it.
Pro Tip: Can’t keep it all straight? Check out these handy-dandy guides for where to find the resources for all girl awards (including STEM!). You can also check out the Award and Badge Explorer to get a short description of each award.
What if I’m not a STEM person?
Don’t worry! You don’t need to be a science or math expert to encourage and facilitate STEM activities with your girls. You just need to be:
- Ready to get your hands dirty and learn with the girls
For more encouragement, meeting ideas, and tips for diving into STEM, check out this Trailhead post, Tips for Exploring STEM with Your Girl Scouts (No STEM Experience Required).
What resources are available?
There are so many tools and experts waiting to help you introduce your girls to STEM!
- Parents of girls in your troop, or their contacts, may be willing to serve as subject matter experts and help facilitate the badge.
- The Guide offers may activities that can support girls earning a STEM badge. Check out the Activity Finder and search by keyword “STEM”.
- Local museums, universities, or libraries may have special workshops.
- STEM Websites including GSNorCal’s STEM page and under STEM Advisor on the Volunteer Learning Portal
How can I learn more?
Register for our upcoming STEM webinars, held the third Thursday of the month, 7:00–8:00 PM.
November 15, 2018: Cybersecurity Badges K–5
January 17, 2019: Space Science Badges K–5
February 21, 2019: Mechanical Engineering Badges K–5
March 21, 2019: Robotics Badges K–12
April 18, 2019: “Think like a…” STEM Journeys (K–12)
May 16, 2019: Highlights of Service Unit STEM Events
And don’t forget to check out our STEM workshops at this year’s Discoveree, January 12 in Union City! Registration opens in early November!
Can’t wait to see you at our future trainings!
Ready to get started? Here’s what to do next:
- Discover a whole new world of STEM Resources in the Volunteer Learning Portal. Don’t forget to browse GSNorCal’s own STEM page and review the four STEM Outcomes too.
- Looking for related reads? Check out our other STEM-themed blog posts.
- Still have questions? Leave them in the comments section below—our GSNorCal STEM staff members are happy to help!
Elspeth Kersh—Elspeth is a STEM Program Manager for Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she develops and supports all kinds of STEM experiences for girls. Before joining the Girl Scouts, Elspeth worked as an educator at the Lawrence Hall of Science and the Oakland Zoo. When she is not at the Girl Scouts office in Alameda, she can be found fishing with her husband, trying new recipes, and singing silly camp songs.
Jean Fahy, M.Ed—Jean is the STEM Program Director for Girl Scouts of Northern California, where she and her team partner with experts and volunteers throughout the council to offer unique STEM experiences to girls. She has taught math and science at elementary through high school and has spent many summers as Girl Scout Camp staff sharing her love of nature with girls. When she is not involved in Girl Scout activities, she loves to hike in the Oakland hills and camp in the Sierras with her family and dog, Tyler.