Girl Scouts STEM program is about increasing girls’ participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Girls push boundaries, test limits, and look at the world around them with inquisitive eyes. They’re natural scientists! Girl Scouts introduces girls of every age to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiences relevant to everyday life. Whether they’re discovering how a car’s engine runs, how to manage finances, or exploring careers in STEM fields, girls are fast-forwarding into the future.
Chevron Cares About STEM
Girl Scouts of Central California South hosted a series of 2013 Chevron Cares about STEM Careers Workshop at the Girl Scout regional office on Brundage Lane in Bakersfield. This is the second year in a row that these STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) workshops for girls have been offered, thanks to grant-funding provided by Chevron. The goal is to provide future women workers and leaders with knowledge about STEM fields so that they can make informed career choices. The girls who participate in this program are beginning to consider their future career prospects, and many may never have imagined that they could become geologists, biologists, environmental scientists, dietitians or engineers. These workshops provide local girls with mentors and role models to help them develop to their full potential.
For the 2013 workshops, presenters included professional women from Chevron and other Central Valley corporations and institutions who have successful careers in STEM fields. They will present hand-on activities. These women represent the many major STEM employers in our area, including oil companies, growers, agricultural processors, law enforcement, education, the medical field, military bases and educational institutions. In order to improve business efficiency and productivity, there is a great need to incorporate STEM knowledge and training into workforce development.
This year there were three workshops open to Girl Scouts and all interested girls, grades 6 – 12. The girls brainstormed community action projects that address manpower needs in their local communities and industries. This full-day event was broken up into four different sessions, including “Cutting Edge” projects, being in the lab, being an engineer, and various ways to “save the planet”. At the end of the workshops, the girls will be encouraged to work with their schools, communities and faith-based organizations to implement their community action projects.
What Girl Scouts said about previous STEM Careers Workshops:
“The tech workshop helped me think a lot more about my choices. It helped me a lot.”
“I learned about how fingerprinting works, how to discuss medicine, and how to work robots.”
“It helped me see how important an education is. I want to be a doctor.”
“I learned in these workshops today you can become anything you set yourself to.”
“I liked the geologist. Her speech was interesting and intriguing.”
“[I learned that] women are needed in the engineering field”
Girl Scouts’ Unique Approach to STEM:
STEM experiences are framed within the context of leadership: As girls participate in Girl Scouting, they develop leadership skills to make the world a better place. Research shows girls are more interested in STEM careers when they know how their work can help others.
The Girl Scout Leadership Experience engages girls through the three Girl Scout processes of: girl-led, learning by doing, and cooperative learning.
Here’s how these processes provide quality STEM experiences for girls:
Girl-led: Even when a girl has an interest in STEM, she might find that boys take the lead in a school environment due to unspoken assumptions about gender roles. Girl Scouts offers a safe, supportive place for girls to seek challenges. The girl-led process encourages girls to decide which topics they want to explore and how they want to go about it.
Learning by doing: Research shows that, particularly with STEM, youth need to be hands-on, active learners. The learning-by-doing process encourages this approach. In addition, Girl Scouts’ learning-by-doing process involves a reflection step that asks girls to think about how a given activity worked and what they would do differently in the future—a key skill in scientific testing and conducting experiments.
Cooperative learning: In general, girls prefer a collaborative leadership style, rather than the traditional, top-down, “command and control” approach. The cooperative learning process gives girls the opportunity to develop leadership and STEM skills in a way that might feel most comfortable.
“Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math” is a research report from the Girl Scout Research Institute released in February 2012. The report examines interest and engagement in the subjects and fields of STEM, from the voices of 1,000 girls nationwide, ages 8-18. Girls are interested in STEM fields and aspire to STEM careers the study shows, but need more exposure and adult support to carry this interest into the future. Find out more information on this report, including tip sheets for parents and girls.
Girl Scouts of Central California South STEM program:
We always encourage Troop Leaders to talk about STEM, and the different career opportunities available. Girls are interested in STEM and want to talk about it, and the different things they can do with a STEM career. We want Troop Leaders to let girls ask questions about the world, experiment and problem solve. And get girls involved in activities that will foster their STEM skills. Troop Leaders like to educate themselves about STEM opportunities so they show girls they can achieve their goals through STEM careers. And finally we like to expose girls to mentors and experts in STEM fields.