Girl Scouts now offer various STEM Journeys, and robotics, engineering, and computer science programs to earn new badges and encourage girls to seek futures in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The initiative intends to help Girl Scouts pursue their interests; whatever they may be. (Photo via Girl Scouts)
The Scouts of America had a bit of unfortunate press after the recent unnecessary politicization of a Boy Scouts of America Jamboree by the current President of the United States, so the Girl Scouts of America are restoring equilibrium with some good news about the availability of new STEM opportunities. According to a summary from the U.S. Department of Commerce, women fill nearly half the jobs in the American workforce as a whole but only hold 24% of positions in STEM fields. The statistic could be interpreted in a variety of ways. From the suggestion that women are generally disinterested in STEM fields, to the idea that they are socialized in a way that disinclines them from pursuing such subjects, but regardless, it seems most sensible to provide the same opportunities without discrimination in order to allow kids of any gender to follow their genuine passions.
This appears to be the approach taken by the Girl Scouts, as the website states, “Combined with existing STEM and outdoor programs, as well as programming that addresses life skills and entrepreneurship, these new Journeys and badges help girls empower themselves to take the lead like a Girl Scout as they accomplish amazing things.” It goes on to describe the Troop Camping badge that can be earned through the Outdoor Journeys, in which the scouts can learn and practice outdoor skills and perhaps “...ignite [an] interest in environmental stewardship,” in addition to completing a so-called “Take Action project.” The Girl Scout site describes three STEM Journeys: one in Engineering (“Think Like an Engineer”), another in Computer Science (“Think Like a Programmer”), and finally, Outdoor STEM (“Think Like a Citizen Scientist”). The engineering program has, “...hands-on design challenges,” the computer science program teaches girls how to solve problems with, “...interactive computational-thinking activities,” and the Outdoor STEM program employs the scientific method in a citizen science project.
There are also new engineering badges available for robotics and mechanical engineering, in addition to the Girls’ Choice badge for troop camping. All these developments are welcome news, and it’s very promising to see the Girl Scouts organization providing its members with unique, eye-opening experiences, and introducing them to a world full of possibility and agency.
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