Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Girl Scouts Offer Tech Savvy Exhibit at Texas State Fair

The Dallas Morning News reports the one-hundred years have passed since Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop in Savannah, Georgia, and right now, Dallas, TX, is playing an instrumental role in propelling the organization into its second century. The State Fair of Texas is providing a hub of education, preservation, and empowerment by hosting the Girl Scout 100th Anniversary Experience in the Hall of State now through October 21.

Free with general admission at the fair, the tech savvy exhibit was conceived by the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and is sponsored by Dallas-based AT&T. Uptown’s Corporate Magicdesigned and produced the interactive exhibit, sparing no bells or whistles for its glimmering electronic campfires, computer-generated virtual troops, and brightly designed giant cookie boxes. But, the future-focused organization has not forgotten its past. Well-aligned to the overarching Girl Scouts ethos, the exhibit melds historical artifact with digital information, emphasizing the group’s sense of resourceful independence and progressive attitude toward the role of science and technology.

To this end, visitors are encouraged to download a special Girl Scout app, compatible with both iPhone and Android. With it, they can scan QR codes found not only throughout the exhibit, but also around Fair Park. The adventure – the “Big Texpediation” – is available in both English and Spanish and can be customized for varying age-levels. It leads guests all around the fairgrounds to solve riddles, find clues, learn trivia, and connect through social media. Upon completion, participants are awarded a special patch for their courage and cleverness.

Commitment to science and technology is particularly crucial to the future of the organization. GSNETX Chief Program Officer Gwyneth Lloyd said, “Girl Scouts encourages and empowers young women to visualize themselves as tomorrow’s leaders. That’s where the careers of the future are, so we want girls to know they don’t have to sit at the back of the classroom and be shy anymore.”

As such, a room in the exhibit dedicated to the ToGetHer There program allows guests to literally visualize themselves as astronauts or at the head of a boardroom with green screens and virtual reality. “We don’t always know what we can achieve until someone tells us that it’s within our reach,” Lloyd said.

On a national level, the organization has created programs like the STEM Center of Excellence which provides access to science labs and art studios. An acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, STEM activities include extracting DNA from bananas, creating their own compost, examining with microscopes, playing around with cameras, and even learning to clean up oil spills.