Thursday, August 17, 2017

Girl Scouts Works with the SETI Institute to Skyrocket Girls’ Interest in STEM

Since 1920, Girl Scouts have had the opportunity to earn badges that encourage their interest in astronomy. Today we’re thrilled to announce that Girl Scouts and the SETI Institute are working together to create the first-ever Space Science badges at every Girl Scout grade level—from Daisies to Ambassadors!

Funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and led by the SETI Institute, the Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts program will give girls the opportunity to explore the universe beyond Earth by developing their own ideas and then observing and experimenting to test them. From exploring how light works to learning about the scientific research NASA is conducting, girls will have the opportunity to see firsthand the many exciting career paths for women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

The six badges are being developed and aligned with NASA’s space sciences: astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics (the Sun). By studying the stars, galaxies, and the universe, and by participating in other STEM opportunities, girls will develop a lifetime love of the cosmos and its endless possibilities. Over time, they will progress from earning the Space Science Explorer badge as Daisies to the more advanced Space Science Master badge as Ambassadors. Additionally, this summer 90 Girl Scout councils across the United States received kits filled with materials that allow girls to explore space science and eclipse-related activities, leading up to the August 21, 2017, Total Solar Eclipse.

“We are incredibly grateful for the SETI Institute’s partnership and the funding from NASA’s Science Mission Directorate to make space science learning even more accessible to girls,” said Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) CEO Sylvia Acevedo. “My experience as a Girl Scout prompted my love of all things STEM and served as the foundation for my future career as a rocket scientist. It also empowered me with the leadership skills and confidence to excel within a male-dominated field. Now, through this collaboration, even more girls will have the opportunity to explore the exciting realm of space science in the supportive and holistic environment that Girl Scouts provides.”

Research shows that women are still vastly underrepresented in STEM fields and that exposing girls to these subjects at a young age is vital to ignite their curiosity and close this gap. In response, together with five partners—the SETI Institute, Girl Scouts of Northern California, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the University of Arizona, and ARIES Scientific—GSUSA is equipping girls as young as five years old with the confidence and skills they need to take their STEM interest to the next level.

“Girl Scouts, the SETI Institute, and NASA have a rich heritage of working together to give girls more opportunities to learn about space science, and we are excited to advance the cause,” said the SETI Institute's Director of Education Edna DeVore. “With the resilience, ingenuity, and courage Girl Scouts instills in girls, it’s no surprise that many female astronauts in the United States are Girl Scout alumnae. We recognize that today’s girls are tomorrow’s STEM leaders, and with the new badges and programming, Girl Scouts everywhere will have access to even more of these opportunities, building the next generation of women leaders in STEM that we so desperately need.”

In addition to the new badges, which will be available by 2019, GSUSA’s collaboration with NASA and the SETI Institute supports leadership training in astronomy for Girl Scouts at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Arizona.

“Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts” is based on work supported by NASA Science under cooperative agreement No. NNX16AB90A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.