Girl Scouts are in full force at the White House today, as President Obama is welcoming young scientists and engineers from across the country to showcase their inventions and discoveries at the 2015 White House Science Fair.
This year, Girl Scouts are represented by “The Supergirls,” a team of six-year old Girl Scout Daisies from Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma who invented a battery-powered page turner for people with arthritis, people who are paralyzed, or “people who have no arms”; and Lauren Prox, a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient whose project “Reaching New Altitudes” aims to reverse the small percentage of minorities and females participating in the fields of aviation and STEM.
Hosted by President Obama, the White House will be live streaming the Science Fair here at whitehouse.gov/science-fair, so make sure to tune in to see what incredible inventions some of America’s youngest scientists and engineers bring to the White House.
"America has a huge opportunity for economic growth with girls' interest in science, technology, engineering, and math," says Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. "When girls succeed, so does society. We all have a role to play in making girls feel supported and capable when it comes to involvement in STEM fields—and anything else they set their minds to and have traditionally been steered away from.”
According to the Girl Scout Research Institute study Generation STEM: What Girls Say About Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, 82 percent of girls see themselves as “smart enough to have a career in STEM.” And yet, few girls consider it their number-one career option: 81 percent of girls interested in STEM are interested in pursuing STEM careers, but only 13 percent say it’s their first choice. Additionally, girls are aware that gender barriers persist in today’s society: 57 percent of those studied concur that if they were to pursue a STEM career, they would “have to work harder than a man to be taken seriously.”
As to what girls are drawn to with regard to these subjects, Generation STEM notes that the creative and hands-on aspects of STEM hold the most appeal. STEM-interested girls take an active, inquisitive approach to engaging in science, technology, engineering, and math: a high percentage like to solve problems (85%), build things and put things together (67%), do hands-on science projects (83%), and ask questions about how things work and find ways to answer these questions (80%).
Oklahoma’s “Supergirls” participated in the 2014 “Think Tank” Challenge through Junior FIRST Lego League, where they researched different tools used to help students learn. They received an invitation to the state championship, and their creation was selected by the statewide FIRST program director to be the only project exhibited at the “Kid IS the Rocket Symposium,” an educational conference for librarians and educators in the region.
The other Girl Scout representative at the fair this year, Virginia’s Lauren Prox, began her Girl Scout Gold Award project after discovering the small percentage of minorities and females partaking in the fields of aviation and STEM. Prox worked with local scouting troops and youth-serving organizations, developed aviation-themed scavenger hunts that aligned with scouting requirements for patches, and made aerospace-centered lesson plans for scouting leaders to use in the future. For older audiences, she gave presentations regarding her STEM experiences, from flying a plane to interning at NASA.