Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Girl Scouts Imagine a Future in STEM

In New York, The Journal News reports that Christine De La Rosa, 18, a student at Ramapo High School and a Girl Scout who recently completed her Gold Award project, is glued to her cellphone. So she set out to design a high-concept, “Jetsons”-style mobile device capable of making calls and applying makeup.

“Since I love my cellphone so much I invented a pouch for it with lip gloss,” she said.

De La Rosa was one of many students from Ramapo High School who attended Imagine: Your STEM Future, a program at Rockland Community College, on Monday.

The program, organized by the Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson and funded by a generous grant from AT&T, encourages high school girls to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as STEM).

“Everything is STEM nowadays,” explained Jean Havens, a community development manager for the Girl Scouts. “Even if you want to become a fashion designer, you need to know how to computer-program.”

Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson was one of 18 Girl Scout organizations in the United States to receive $1 million from AT&T.

For the past nine weeks, about 80 Ramapo high-schoolers have taken extracurricular STEM classes, activities and science-related experiments such as learning how to extract DNA from a fruit. During a lunchtime talk, Elaine Padilla, a sociology and anthropology professor at the college, encouraged the girls to follow the example of Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low.

Low overcame serious hearing loss and a stuffy, upper-class upbringing in in Savannah, Ga., to round up her first troop on March 12, 1912. The original Girls Scout troop included girls who were Jewish, Protestant and Catholic, Padilla said.

“As a sociologist, I can tell you, Daisy got it right,” she said, adding that the lesson of Low’s life was the “importance of character.”