Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Girl Scouts Introduces 30 New Badges to Power Girl Leadership

Girl Scouts releases new badges in environmental stewardship, space science, robotics, and more to help girls create positive change in their communities—and beyond.

Today, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) rolled out 30 new badges and 2 new Journeys (available now!) exclusively for girls ages 5–18—enhancing the time tested, one-of-a-kind leadership experience that has prepared countless women and girls to excel in life. The new programming will prepare girls to address some of society’s most pressing needs through hands-on learning in cybersecurity, environmental advocacy, mechanical engineering, robotics, computer science, and space exploration.

The new programming for girls in grades 6–12 includes:
  • Think Like a Programmer Journey, funded by Raytheon and providing a strong foundation in computational thinking and the framework for Girl Scouts’ first ever national Cyber Challenge, coming in 2019. The programming will prepare girls to pursue careers in fields such as cybersecurity, computer science, and robotics. Learn more.
  • Environmental Stewardship badges, funded by the Elliott Wildlife Values Project and expanding on GSUSA’s current Environmental Stewardship badge offerings. Girls in grades K–12 are encouraged to prepare for outdoor experiences and take action on environmental issues they care about. Although Girl Scouts have been advocating for the environment since the organization’s founding 106 years ago, the new badges are the first to specifically mobilize girls to be environmental advocates who address problems, find solutions, and take the lead to protect the natural world. Learn more.
  • Robotics badges that teach girls how to program, design, and showcase robots, completing the suite of Robotics badges that GSUSA introduced for girls in grades K–5 last year. Now, every Girl Scout can develop robotics skills and earn badges while she’s at it! Learn more.
  • The College Knowledge badge for Girl Scouts in grades 11 and 12—the first badge dedicated to college exploration. By showing girls how to research the admissions process, financial aid, and other key factors, our College Knowledge badge meets a specific need and addresses the life skills girls have told us they’re interested in—and that many don’t find support for outside Girl Scouts. Learn more.
  • Think Like an Engineer Journey, which helps girls understand how engineers address and solve problems. As with all Girl Scout Leadership Journeys, girls complete hands-on activities and use their newly honed skills to take action on a problem in their community. Learn more.

Girls in grades K–5 can now earn badges in:
  • Cybersecurity. Funded by Palo Alto Networks, our new Cybersecurity badges introduce girls to age-appropriate online safety and privacy principles, how the internet works, and spotting and investigating cybercrime. Learn more.
  • Space Science. Funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and led by the SETI Institute, these badges let girls channel their inner NASA scientist as they learn about objects in space and how astronomers conduct investigations. Learn more.
  • Mechanical Engineering. Girl Scout Juniors—girls in grades 4 and 5—design paddle boats, cranes, and balloon-powered cars; and learn about buoyancy, potential and kinetic energy, machines, and jet propulsion. Following last year’s introduction of Mechanical Engineering badges for girls in grades K–3, the addition of these badges means that ALL Girl Scouts in elementary school now have access to hands-on engineering experiences. Learn more.
Enhancing Girl Scouts’ proven girl-led programming, these new badges and Journeys will set girls up for a lifetime of leadership and success, and prepare them to take action to make the world a better—including greener and more equitable—place for us all.

Today’s youth are increasingly vocal about the change they want to see—and Girl Scouts are the best equipped with the skills needed to make a real impact. In fact, girls who participate in Girl Scouting are more than twice as likely to exhibit community problem-solving skills than girls who don’t (57 percent versus 28 percent). The important soft skills like confidence and perseverance that Girl Scouts promotes, coupled with the hard skills linked with our standout, 21st-century programming definitely set Girl Scouts apart.

There’s just no doubt about it: Girl Scouts is the single BEST place for girls. Delivering a one-of-a-kind leadership development program (and the largest in the world for girls!), Girl Scouts provides girls with unlimited girl-led adventures found nowhere else. Troops are forming now—join Girl Scouts today.

 GSUSA works with top organizations and specialists in fields that interest today’s girls. These entities advise us and collaborate with us to develop cutting-edge programming for girls. Recent content collaborators include Code.org, the Cyber Innovation Center, robotics educator and author Kathy Ceceri, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, the Museum of Science in Boston, and Design Squad Global. Girl Scouts themselves also rigorously tested select new program offerings, including the Think Like a Programmer activities and Space Science and Cybersecurity badges announced last year and available for girls nationwide to earn.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Hear It from a Girl Scout: Preparing Tomorrow’s Engineers and Scientists

From 2013 to 2017, Girl Scouts of the USA partnered with Arconic Foundation to provide ten Gold Award Girl Scouts with the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship in recognition of their cutting-edge projects related to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). In 2016, Morgan Barron of Girl Scouts of Utah received the scholarship for her project on water conservation devices. She went on to enter the global sustainability and development cohort at the University of Utah in fall 2016 to study mechanical engineering.

From mentoring first-generation college students in STEM to facilitating engineering-based international humanitarian relief efforts, Morgan is spending her college years empowering kids and making a lasting influence on local communities. As she approaches the midway point of her undergraduate career, we caught up with her about her college experience so far and her plans for the future.

What have you been up to, and how are your STEM studies going?
Finishing my fourth semester at the University of Utah, I have full major status in the mechanical engineering program. This past year, I enrolled in a computer problem-solving lab in which my team and I built and programmed a robot. I gained skills necessary to my engineering aspirations: how to program with an Arduino Romeo and how to code in C and MATLAB. I will continue to develop my programming skills this upcoming fall semester, as I am enrolled in an advanced computing class.

This summer, I joined the Minuteman Missile Sustainment Team as an intern. I have had the opportunity to work with professional engineers on meaningful design projects that benefit our national security. I plan to continue working on national defense projects professionally, as I have been accepted into the U.S. Department of Defense’s SMART Scholarship Program.

What challenges have you faced, and how did you overcome them?
Beginning my first semester at the University of Utah, I struggled with academic tunnel vision, and by focusing exclusively on my coursework, I isolated myself. My initial approach to combat my self-inflicted loneliness was rather simplistic: I joined study groups, increased my involvement with on-campus organizations, and attended campus-sponsored events. Connecting with my peers and professors made school much more enjoyable, as some of them have become mentors and friends.

Looking back, how has Girl Scouts and the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship impacted your college experience?
At the risk of sounding cliché, I would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for Girl Scouts. Through Girl Scouts, I gained mentors who provided the scaffolding I needed to develop as a leader and opportunities to exercise my leadership skills. I learned the importance of personal advocacy and became confident in my ability to create meaningful, positive change, and I was introduced to a diversity of ideas by interacting with girls of different backgrounds and perspectives. The majority of impactful experiences I have been afforded have been either a direct or indirect benefit of participating in Girl Scouts.

Thanks to the generosity of the Arconic Foundation, I do not have to work to pay for my studies. This has allowed me to focus on my classwork, serve as the outreach co–vice president for the University of Utah’s Society for Women Engineers, write for the Daily Utah Chronicle’s opinion desk, and work for the University of Utah’s Science and Engineering Fair for elementary through high school students.

How do you take the lead?

As a 2018 recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal award, I am dedicated to improving my community. I have been highly involved with outreach through the University of Utah’s Center for Science and Math Education (CMSE) and the Society of Women Engineers. As a participant in my regional STEM fair during my elementary and secondary education, I joined CSME to help facilitate the University of Utah’s Science and Engineering Fair. I read paperwork to ensure the safety of student researchers and organize awards to recognize students’ excellence.

In my position at the Society of Women Engineers, I work to sponsor two Girl Scout Nights (GSNs) for Girl Scouts of Utah and host two Day in the Life of an Engineer (DITL) events for high school girls. We had over 100 Girl Scouts participate at GSNs this year, where they explored the engineering design process and learned how STEM is relevant in their daily lives. I also worked to revitalize the Society of Women Engineers’ DITL event (in November 2017), bringing 70 high school girls to the University of Utah to explore engineering disciplines through experiential learning and mini lectures. I am proud to say that I am facilitating the training of future engineers and scientists.

Through the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship, I am able to pursue an education to continue developing my STEM toolbox. I am personally grateful that Girl Scouts and the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship champion women in STEM by providing opportunities and funding for higher education.

Girl Scouts offers the best leadership development experience for girls in the world. Because everything a Girl Scout does centers around STEM, the outdoors, life skills, or entrepreneurship and is designed to meet her where she is now and then grow along with her. Explore what the other Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship recipients have accomplished as part of Girl Scouts, and learn more about the Girl Scout difference.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Hear It from a Girl Scout: Taking Risks and Giving Back As a Medical Student

Scholarships go a long way in helping girls unleash their potential and become the leaders of tomorrow. Morgan Ferone, a Gold Award Girl Scout from Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest and 2014 recipient of the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship, can certainly speak to this.

From 2013 to 2017, Girl Scouts of the USA partnered with Arconic Foundation to provide ten Gold Award Girl Scouts with the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship in recognition of their cutting-edge projects related to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). Morgan received the scholarship in 2014 for her project on physics education. She then went on to attend the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, where she graduated in May 2018.

When Morgan first came to UNC, she was unsure which subject she wanted to focus on. But in true Girl Scout fashion of approaching obstacles with enthusiasm, this ambitious learner used her freshman year to explore a variety of STEM classes, such as calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, and geology. She soon discovered her growing interest in science and declared a major in biology, with minors in chemistry and religious studies. Check out her story, her experience in Girl Scouts, and what her life as a science student is like.

What have you been up to? Did you graduate with a STEM-related degree? Tell us about your college experience.
The past four years have been a wonderful journey. I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill as an Honors Laureate with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and religious studies. I loved studying both science and the humanities and would highly recommend it to anyone. Reading poetry and writing essays worked different “muscles” of my brain than chemistry lab reports and biology posters, which I think helped avoid academic burnout. There is also something amazing about learning the mechanics of life in one class and then how it is lived by different peoples throughout time in another.

I tried to take a holistic approach to my activities outside the classroom as well, exploring interests such as service, teaching, and research. Each class activity helped me better understand my passions and refine my goals for the future.

Aside from all of that, I made some incredible friends. Together we mourned the loss of the NCAA Basketball Championships and rushed Franklin Street when we finally tasted victory the very next year. We dressed up in silly costumes and ran the Krispy Kreme Challenge all four years. We lived, laughed, and cried together, supporting and learning from each other all along the way. My college experience is defined by exhilarating highs and humbling lows and by the people who were there for all those moments and the times in between.

Looking back, how has Girl Scouts and the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship impacted your life? 
Girl Scouts has had a foundational impact on my life. It instilled a “can-do” mentality in me, which has followed me everywhere. Girl Scouts holds its members to high standards of courage, confidence, and character, and as a result, I know I will always hold myself to those ideals as well.

Being awarded the Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship was such an empowering way to begin my college career, it was as if Girl Scouts was reminding me (a nervous, somewhat overwhelmed freshman) “You can do this.” Furthermore, the financial benefit of the scholarship allowed me to pursue a passion that might have otherwise been difficult. I’ve worked for two years now as a volunteer birth doula with UNC Birth Partners. This organization provides free doula services to any woman giving birth at North Carolina Women’s Hospital. Serving as a doula has been the most meaningful experience of my life, and I’m so grateful to have had the financial flexibility to do this important work. 

What are your goals moving forward? 
This August, I will be beginning a new adventure at UNC—this time as medical student! While one of my main goals is to succeed in my classes (of course), my other goals center on being true to myself. I know medical school will be difficult, but I hope to do my best to live out my values despite the challenges. I want to strengthen relationships with friends and family, as well as develop new friendships. I want to take care of my body and be a good environmental steward. I want to approach new situations with an open mind and compassionate heart. I want to serve my community and take action in the face of injustice. I can’t help but notice that in several ways, these goals are reminiscent of the Girl Scout Promise and Law. My hope is that staying true to these goals will carry me through the next phase of life.

How do you take the lead?
Taking the lead is all about not being afraid of failure and a willingness to embrace uncertainty. Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, so taking the lead means being able to accept uncertainty (the possibility of failure) and move forward anyway. Many of the things I was involved in over the last four years required stepping into the unknown. Working in a research lab and attending an American World Health Organization conference were both things that I had no experience with but turned out to be incredibly meaningful.

Taking the lead also involves embracing your passions. In the past, I was hesitant to share my passions loudly, just in case they didn’t work out. Taking the lead means pushing aside that fear to be loud and proud about the things you care about. Whatever your interests are, claim them, because they are what make you unique.

With a Bachelor of Science degree coupled with extensive research and volunteer medical training experience under her belt, Morgan will study medicine at UNC and hopes to continue to positively affect peoples’ lives.

Girl Scouts offers the best leadership development experience for girls in the world. Because everything a Girl Scout does centers around STEM, the outdoors, life skills, or entrepreneurship and is designed to meet her where she is now and then grow along with her. Explore what the other Arconic Chuck McLane Scholarship recipients have accomplished as part of Girl Scouts, and learn more about the Girl Scout difference.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Weekly Girl Scout Gold Award Spotlight

Check out this week’s sampling of go-getting, innovating, risk-taking Gold Award Girl Scouts—young women who know what it means to lead with true G.I.R.L. spirit!

Susana, Girl Scouts of West Central Florida

There’s no doubt we’re in a technologically advanced era, with handheld devices transporting us into the digital world every day. Gold Award Girl Scout Susana, while volunteering at an elementary school, noticed that the kids were more interested in smart devices than books, so she organized a book drive in her community that resulted in the collection of more than 800 books. She then donated these books to San Antonio Elementary School students, teachers, and classroom libraries. Susana also read the newly collected books to students in kindergarten and first and second grades, which gave her a “book lady” reputation around school. This Girl Scout knew she’d crushed her Gold Award goal upon hearing from one of the kids that they’d read their book every day since they’d acquired it.

Learn more about Susana’s project.

Lily, Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains

After working at a nursing home, Lily couldn’t help but notice how lonely some of the residents seemed, so she sprang into action with her Gold Award project—creating a Facebook page that encourages members of her community to get involved at local nursing homes. Lily created her project, Sunshine for Seniors, to minimize the feelings of grief and loneliness residents of nursing homes may feel. She called upon community members to volunteer their support, and to familiarize new volunteers and staff she wrote a book about the residents of the home where she’d spent time, including information about their lives, such as their favorite foods and memories, to make it easier to start conversations with them. To meet the sustainability requirement of her project, Lily provided the nursing home with a questionnaire for families to fill out when adding new residents, making this Gold Award project shine for years to come!

Learn more about Lily’s project.

Caitlin, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council

In times of natural disaster, it’s everyone’s responsibility to come together to support and provide aid to those directly affected. Caitlin’s love of music inspired her Girl Scout Gold Award project, which had her rallying 35 community volunteers to replace the sheet music lost during Hurricane Harvey for the Kingwood Mighty Mustang Military Marching Band at Kingwood High School. Caitlin and her volunteers also successfully recreated one of the band’s program manuals, and Caitlin developed a volunteer schedule to coordinate moving the band back into its original meeting hall from its temporary location. 

Learn more about Caitlin’s project.

Victoria, Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida

Gold Award Girl Scout Victoria’s G.I.R.L. Agenda? To increase awareness about and the availability of life-saving organ donations. She kick-started her advocacy efforts after learning that over 118,000 men, women, and children are presently awaiting lifesaving organ transplants. As part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Victoria produced and distributed a video that’s currently being shown in every Department of Motor Vehicles location in Florida, where it’s spreading valuable information about this important issue. The video provides DMV visitors with organ donation statistics, a debunking of commonly held myths, and registration information.

Learn more about Victoria’s project.

Gold Award Girl Scouts are recipients of one of the most prestigious awards in the world for girls. By the time they put the final touches on their seven-step projects, they’ll have addressed a significant problem in their community—not only in the short term, but with a plan to sustain the work for years into the future. They’re also eligible for college scholarshipsand to enter the military one rank higher than non–Gold Award Girl Scouts.

Got a Girl Scout Gold Award story to share? Send the details and relevant photos to socialmedia@girlscouts.org for a chance to have it featured.
Friday, July 6, 2018

The #gsoutdoors Challenge Results Are In

Last month, in honor of Great Outdoors Month, we challenged you to explore the world beyond walls in exciting new ways and to keep the adventure going all summer long. Each week in June, we presented a new challenge to break you out of your comfort zone and take your outdoor exploration to a new level. And now the results are in! Join us in congratulating our four trailblazing winners:  

Week 1- Go the Distance

A HUGE shout-out to our friends at The North Face for awarding our four lucky winners with awesome prizes—including an outdoor pack filled with The North Face apparel. We can’t wait to see which adventures our winners take on next with their new gear.

Earlier this year, The North Face teamed up with Girl Scouts of the USA to inspire girls to challenge themselves, learn about the natural world, and continue the Girl Scout tradition of having life-changing outdoor experiences. Through our multiyear collaboration, The North Face will support the development of 12 new Outdoor Adventure badges, with programming ranging from mountaineering and climbing to backpacking, hiking, and trail running. These 12 new Girl Scout badges, which will roll out over the next two years, will teach girls in virtually every U.S. zip code about the benefits of outdoor exploration. The North Face is also planning a series of local events in the coming months and years and is excited to partner with Girl Scout councils for training, volunteering, athlete-led adventures, and more. We’re thrilled to continually collaborate with The North Face to power the next generation of women who push boundaries and move mountains!

Although the #gsoutdoors challenge has come to an end, your outdoor adventures don’t have to! Head outside and continue sharing your discoveries using #gsoutdoors.