Thursday, December 19, 2019

Cracking the STEM Inclusion Code: Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week (December 9– 15), Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and Dell Technologies took to Capitol Hill to update congressional leaders on the strides that GSUSA is making to support the next generation of female leaders through new Coding for Good badges.

The briefing was sponsored by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) at an exciting moment for women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); Congress recently passed the senators’ bipartisan bill, the Building Blocks of STEM Act, which supports research about how and why young children, especially girls, participate in STEM activities.

Here’s what you need to know:
  • According to the National Science Foundation, women only receive about 18% of bachelor’s degrees in computer science. Karen Quintos, executive vice president and chief customer officer of Dell Technologies, pointed out that “by 2024, there will be 1.1 million computing-related job openings in the U.S., yet only 45% of those jobs could be filled based on current graduation rates.” By knowing how to code, your Girl Scout can keep her creativity and entrepreneurial spirit front and center while preparing to take on future challenges to make the world a better place.
  • The new Coding for Good badges provide your girl with opportunities to learn and have fun at the same time! For example, Daisies learn about algorithms by using a recipe and ingredients to make a s'more. Older Girl Scouts receive two different sets of instructions for making trail mix and then split into groups to prepare the tasty snack. The tasks mimic what a "detailed" algorithm would look like compared to an "efficient" algorithm. (And, yes, the girls get to eat their creations!). The bottom line? With the Coding for Good badge activities, your girl will learn how to make technology, not just consume and use it. Not to mention all the fun she’ll have alongside her Girl Scout sisters.
  • Is STEM just not calling your girl’s name? Laura Terrill, a STEM program manager from Girl Scouts of Central Texas (and a panelist during the congressional briefing, shared her experience: "I have watched as Girl Scouts who did not think they were good at science or math, or that these subjects were ‘for them,’ adopt an entirely different attitude after participating in Girl Scout STEM activities."

Coding apps, developing games, learning how smartphones work, and finding a safe Wi-Fi spot—these are just some of the things your girl can explore when she earns a Coding for Good badge. Encourage her interest at an early age and prepare her to thrive in the 21st-century innovation economy!

About Our Partnership with Dell Technologies: 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 of their access to technology.