Monday, December 9, 2019

5 Fun and Simple Ways Spark Her Interest in Coding

Quiz Time!

1. Does your girl like learning new languages? ✅YES ⛔NO
2. Does she love thinking about new, creative ideas? ✅YES ⛔NO
3. Does she want to improve the world around her? ✅YES ⛔NO
4. Does your Girl Scout like computer games and different apps? ✅YES ⛔NO

If the answer to at least one of these questions is “YES”, she’s going to enjoy learning about coding and learning one of the new Coding for Good badges!

Sparking your girl’s curiosity in coding is simpler than you think. Download this awesome Girl Scout-approved guide that includes five simple and fun ways to spark your girl’s interest in coding. The guide includes games you can play together and so much more! Don’t forget, STEM education works best when the focus is on fun and exploration, not on perfection.

Made possible through our partnership with Dell Technologies.

About Our Partnership with Dell:

Through our shared mission of preparing the next generation of female leaders in technology, Dell Technologies and GSUSA are giving girls the tools and experiences they need to empower themselves for careers in STEM.

The Coding for Good badges, developed in collaboration with Dell Technologies, teach girls the basics of coding and detail how every stage of the coding process offers girls opportunities to use their skills for good. Girls learn about algorithms through age-appropriate, creative activities, such as coding positive memes to spread a message about a cause they care about, designing a digital game to educate people about an issue, and developing an app to promote healthy habits. Every Coding for Good badge has a plugged and an unplugged version, so that all girls can learn the foundations of coding, regardless their access to technology.
Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Volunteering with Girl Scouts has, in many ways, taught me more than any college class

Guest post from Girl Scout troop leader Tara Foulkrod, originally published on LinkedIn.

Many people I talk to seem clearly impressed when I tell them I volunteer with Girl Scouts on a regular basis. Common questions and statements include: “How do you do it?” “Isn’t it difficult to be around that many girls?” “Oh! When are the cookie sales?” “Why?” There’s also the all-too-familiar “I wouldn’t be able to handle that.” Many of these statements arise from the fact that I’m a full-time working mom and also a full-time college student.

I get it—it seems like a lot to handle—and some days it is. In fact, I’ve recently had to push off some of my duties as the [troop’s] junior leader because planning for our meetings on top of work and school started to become too much for me. That hasn’t stopped me from attending every meeting I can and going to camp with the girls, though. Because for me, being a part of Girl Scouts is just as much, if not more, of a learning experience than being in college. I can explain by answering some of the questions noted above.

“How do you do it?”

Honestly, this is kind of a common-sense question. How does anyone do anything? They just do it. Sure, I’m busy, but so is everyone else. Some people are far busier than I would ever hope to be. The key is to plan ahead and have a strategy. I know when the meetings are, so I plan as much as I can to leave work a little bit early so that I can get the girls and make it to the meeting on time.

I usually carpool two girls along with my own daughter, and sometimes my son (he’s friends with another scout brother). I work downtown, but we live in a rural area outside the city. The closest troop happened to be in a slightly different rural area, so I divert my drive home in order to carpool to the meetings. On these nights, I usually don’t make it home until almost 9:00 p.m., but it’s a Friday so it’s all good. 

“Isn’t it difficult to be around that many girls?”

While this might sound like a strange question [in relation to] a normal Girl Scout troop, it’s a perfectly reasonable question when it comes to our super-sized troop. Because we live in a rural area, and because there are a number of siblings embedded in the troop, we actually have a multi-level troop. What that means is instead of your average 5–10 girls who are all the same age/grade level, we actually have upwards of 60 registered girls ages 5–18 (kindergarten to 12th grade).

Yes, some days it’s a lot to deal with. Most days, it’s extremely beneficial not just for the parents and leaders, but also for the girls themselves. Our large troop consists of girls with various skills, strengths, and leadership abilities. That means there’s almost always someone around with some type of experience or knowledge in whatever badge we’re pursuing. The “bigs” help the “littles” learn new things, and vice versa. It’s amazing to watch and experience as an adult because you’re literally watching them grow into independent women in real time.

At camp, everything is girl-led. The leaders and volunteer parents are there to keep an overall watch over the camp, but all activities, including cooking and cleanup, are up to the girls to accomplish. We have a rule in our troop—there are no “moms” at camp, which simply means that we are not there to clean up or do things for the girls. It’s very liberating for both the girls and the adults. Girls get to feel more independent, and adults get to feel slightly less stress. Meanwhile, the older girls act as camp counselors for the younger girls, giving them a sense of responsibility and a leadership opportunity.


This is actually a really good question. I wonder myself, sometimes, when I’m having a stressful day before a meeting. On those days, I still reluctantly go. It’s then that I’m instantly reminded why:

The girls.

I have watched my own daughter grow from a Daisy to a Brownie and now a Junior. I’ve seen multiple girls grow up in this troop in the five short years I’ve been involved. Some are now getting ready to go to college. Some have left the troop but are doing amazing things in other groups like 4H or clubs at their school, like art and even welding.

I watch these girls become strong, independent doers. They’re not content to just sit back and watch things happen. They create. They imagine. They volunteer and give back. They try to make the world a better place.

And I’ve helped them get there. I have notes thanking me for listening and for just being “awesome.” I’m not even as involved as a good chunk of the volunteers in our troop, and I give major kudos for their work and support of these girls and their families.

But most of all, I stay and I volunteer because these girls teach me. They’ve taught me to be more patient and forgiving. They’ve noticed things and people that can be fixed or helped that I had turned a blind eye to. Some of them are much braver than I have ever been, and have gone through childhoods I would never wish on anyone. For some of them, Girl Scouts is their “normal.” And for all of them, Girl Scouts helps them find themselves, even if only for a small part of their lives.

These aren’t things you learn sitting in a college classroom. They’re things you have to experience.

“I wouldn’t be able to handle that.”

Maybe not, and that’s OK. Volunteering with kids isn’t for everyone. But you can still support [the work]. If you hear of a troop doing something for the community, see if there’s something you can donate to help their cause. Maybe a tour of your workplace or career. Even small gestures can help—because even the smallest things are teaching these girls about the bigger outside world, turning them into amazing individuals.

Remember: behind most every promising person is an adult (or adults) who helped them somewhere along the way.

Girl Scouts and AT&T Close the Gender Gap in Tech One Line of Code at a Time

Did you know? With our NEW Coding for Good badges, Girl Scouts are learning to create computer programs, code apps, and develop games that solve problems in their communities (and the world!). We teamed up with tech pros at AT&T for a VIP event to give Girl Scouts even more opportunities to showcase what they’ve learned from the Coding for Good badge curriculum. And the girls rose to the challenge!

Not only did the girls brainstorm a real-world problem that could be solved through coding, but they also came up with multiple smart solutions. From robots that could drive themselves (to address the issue of traffic) to apps that took donations and spread awareness for wildlife organizations, these Girl Scouts showed us what creative leadership looks like in action.

Another project the girls had a ton of fun with was creating a digital self-portrait using code. Just take a look at one of their code masterpieces below.

“I really didn’t think this would be fun, but I learned so much and enjoyed getting to meet the AT&T professionals.” -Girl participant 

“This was totally worth the trip. I am so glad we signed up, and my daughter learned so much!” -Parent

In addition to answering questions and providing guidance for activities that taught the girls about sequences, algorithms, and nested loops, AT&T tech pro volunteers served as mentors. They worked with each girl to create a special kind of Girl Scout pledge. Through the pledge, the girls committed to taking one action to make the world a better place through coding. To wrap things up, these future science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) leaders presented their commitments to the entire group. 

“I had so much fun getting to interact with the girls. They already knew a lot, so I just helped clarify for them, and then they came up with some amazing ideas!” -AT&T volunteer

About our partnership with AT&T: Reflecting its ongoing commitment to Girl Scouts, AT&T is supporting the launch of new Coding for Good badges for Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors. The badges are designed to give girls more hands-on experience in STEM than ever before. Every Coding for Good badge has a plugged and an unplugged version, so that all girls can learn the foundations of coding, regardless their access to technology.

At Girl Scouts, we prepare girls for a lifetime of leadership, success, and adventure, which is something that partnerships with forward-thinking organizations like AT&T help us accomplish.
Sunday, November 24, 2019

High-Adventure Girl Scout Troop Celebrates Thanksgiving

No Girl Scout camping trip is complete without a little outdoor cooking, but what about a full-blown Thanksgiving meal? The Wild Things of GSCCC, a high-adventure troop from Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, set out to cook its largest outdoor meal yet—Thanksgiving dinner with not one but four turkeys.

After an evening of hammock camping, the girls planned the entire meal and set a goal to finish cooking all the dishes by 4:30 p.m. Each turkey was prepped and cooked in a different way: in a smoker, a deep fryer, a Dutch oven, and a (new!) trashcan. That’s right—a trashcan! Talk about innovators! Although a Girl Scout dad ran the deep fryer for safety reasons, the girls put together the entire meal themselves, adding coals to their Dutch ovens and Applewood chips to the smoker with adult supervision. All of the food even finished cooking at the same time!

Check out the rest of their epic menu.

From the Dutch Oven 
Broccoli casserole
Sweet potatoes
Apple Pumpkin Delight
Pumpkin cake

From the Box Oven
Apple pie
Pumpkin pie
Mixed-berry pie
Dinner rolls

From the Camp Stove
Cranberry sauce
Mashed potatoes
Friday, November 1, 2019

3 Takeaways from October’s Girl Scout Cyber Challenge brought to you by Raytheon

It was a sunny October morning in Los Angeles, California. You could feel the excitement in the air. Girl Scouts, volunteers, and parents lined up in front of UCLA’s engineering building in anticipation of something BIG. The moment the door opened, Girl Scouts from the Greater Los Angeles council rushed through, including some who’d been on a waiting list for weeks.

It was clear: these young STEM leaders were 100% ready to take a “byte” out of cybercrime, show off their skills, and have fun with new friends at Girl Scouts’ inaugural Cyber Challenge.

The event was one of ten that took place across the country as part of Girl Scouts’ first-ever national cyber competition, made possible by our collaboration with Raytheon to close the STEM gender gap. Throughout the day, Girl Scouts participated in a series of action-packed cybersecurity-related tasks. The girls worked in teams and with Girl Scout and Raytheon volunteers to save a simulated moon colony that had been hacked, applying and honing skills in cryptography, forensics, and encryption. Like the pros they are, they used their know-how to make the world (or, more accurately, the moon!) a better and safer place.

In the end, Girl Scouts’ mission was accomplished. We rallied more middle and high school girls to learn about cybersecurity and pursue careers in STEM.

Check out our three standout takeaways from the Cyber Challenge and related research:

1. The fastest-growing industries worldwide require engineering and tech training.

Rosa Campos, STEM program manager at Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, summed up why programs like the Cyber Challenge are essential: “We want this to become a program [that prepares] girls to make their way toward STEM careers. We know that only 26% of STEM-related jobs are held by women, and we’re out to change that!”

Well said, Rosa! Especially given that cybersecurity roles are on track to outpace candidates by 1.8 million by 2022. And even if your girl doesn’t choose a career in STEM, it’s highly likely that she’ll need to use technology to make a difference in today’s fast-paced economy.

2. Girls L-O-V-E making a difference in their communities and world through STEM.

Girl Scout Cadette Anna told us why she wanted to participate in the Cyber Challenge: “I signed up because I love to spend time on the internet, especially on YouTube, and playing video games. I want to learn how to keep myself safe—and how to keep others safe!”

According to the Girl Scout Research Institute report Generation STEM, girls want to learn about STEM because they want to help people and make a difference in the world—and 74% of high school girls across the country are interested in the fields and subjects of STEM. However, girls continue to perceive associated gender barriers, which may help explain why STEM fields aren’t their top career choices. Sylvia Acevedo (CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA) and Rebecca Rhoads (president of Global Business Services at Raytheon) in their recent op-ed for the Arizona Daily Star suggest that “research tells us that if girls had been given a better understanding of the impact that math and science can make and more exposure to relevant STEM learning while they were in middle and high school, they would have been more interested in pursuing STEM careers.”

3. The Girl Scout Cyber Challenge is just the beginning!

“I’ve been in this environment for 27 years. It’s so important that young women are fostered in this STEM environment because there aren’t enough women in our industry.” Tammy Redl, Raytheon Volunteer and Cyber Engineer.

The Cyber Challenge was a pilot event at 10 Girl Scout councils and the first-ever national event of its kind. It was a unique opportunity for girls to join together for an immersive, hands-on day of learning about cybersecurity. And to reiterate, one of our goals with events like this is to expose more girls in middle and high school to potential careers in computer science, including in cybersecurity, robotics, data science, and artificial intelligence.

Rest assured, this is not the last Cyber Challenge! We’re hoping to in time roll out the unique event to more and more Girl Scouts nationwide. And of course, at Girl Scouts, we’ll continue to bring you all sorts of state-of-the-art programs that put your girl squarely on a path to success.

The Cyber Challenge and the launch of the first national computer science program by Girl Scouts of the USA is made possible through a multiyear commitment from Raytheon. Together, Raytheon and Girl Scouts are reaching girls during their formative school years, when research shows peer pressure can sometimes deter girls from pursuing their interest in STEM.