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STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Math

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is a fast-growing, exciting field full of opportunities for girls. Girl Scouts helps girls explore STEM and develop new skills. STEM develops both hard skills, such as data analysis and knowledge of concepts, as well as invaluable life skills such as teamwork and leadership.

STEM jobs are projected to grow by 13% as opposed to 9% for other fields. STEM jobs also pay better; with 93% having wages above the national average. Currently, many STEM jobs are going unfilled due to the lack of STEM workers, especially women and minorities. This problem is expected to continue to grow in the coming decades. Girl Scouts is aiming to change this through our STEM pledge. Girl Scouts pledges to add 2.5 million girls to the STEM pipeline by 2025. 

Girl Scout STEM Programs

With the recent release of new STEM badges and Journeys, Girl Scouts looks to introduce girls to STEM, grow their confidence, and help them find how STEM fits into their life. 

STEM Badges and Journeys

Girl Scout STEM badges and Journeys cover topics from mechanical engineering to Citizen Science. Badges and Journeys are designed to engage girls in hands-on STEM exploration while developing the four STEM outcomes and developing skills such as critical thinking and problem solving from a young age.

Many of the new Badges and Journeys can be found in the Volunteer Toolkit, which provides a more in-depth description of activities than available in a badge booklet.

Several new series of STEM badges and journeys have been released over the past few years, including a new release in July of 2019.

Events

Girl Scouts of Utah offers a variety of STEM events. Topics range from engineering to astronomy and give girls hands-on experiences in STEM. Past events include:

  • Badge Workshops: Girl Scouts of Utah provides badge workshops that follow both classic and new STEM badges, including Robotics, Mechanical Engineering, and Home Scientist.
  • Journey Workshops: Girls can work towards the new STEM journeys, such as the Think Like an Engineer journey, at half day workshops. Girls complete the Discover and Connect portions of the Journey and begin planning their Take Action project.
  • Astronomy: From a Lunar Eclipse party to astronomy overnights at our two camps, we offer astronomy programming that follows badge curriculum as well as providing a hands-on experience.
  • STEM Fairs: Groups from the community host booths in a science fair-like environment, providing girls opportunities to meet real scientists and engineers and to do hands-on activities in a variety of topics.
  • STEM No-School Day: Girls can join us over President’s day for a STEM extravaganza. Activities vary by year and include program guests

GSU partners with a number of organizations around the community, such as the Natural History Museum of Utah and the Society of Women Engineers, to offer STEM programming. These organizations may offer their own programs or they may provide program guests at GSU events.

Check our Event Calendar for upcoming activities in your area! 

Robotics

Girl Scouts of Utah offers FIRST robotics teams to help our girls get involved in a long-term STEM activity. FIRST includes Lego League, Lego League Jr, and FIRST Tech Challenge. Half of girls participating in a Girl Scout FIRST team reported that participating had increased their interest in science or engineering (GSRI, 2016). Council-sponsored FIRST teams for the 2019-20 season are forming now. Teams are available in the following ages:

  • FIRST Lego League Jr – grades K-4. Girls build and program a simple machine based on the theme of the year.
  • FIRST Lego League – grades 4-8. Girls build and program a Lego robot to perform challenges based on a theme. Girls also design and share an engineering project based around the same theme.
  • FIRST Tech Challenge – grades 7-12. Girls build a robot out of various materials to complete different challenges around a theme.

Girls interested in joining a FIRST team can email us at programs@gsutah.org.

Learn more about the FIRST robotics program at FIRST’s Website here.

GSU Patch Program

We currently have three STEM council patches, focusing on astronomy, engineering, and math. The curriculum is available online and the patches are available in the council shop. 

 
Volunteer Support

We aim to provide STEM volunteer support through various means.

STEM Training

We offer a STEM training option for volunteers and older girls. In a two-hour, hands-on training, participants learn about STEM badges and Journeys for the different age levels. Participants not only learn about STEM and its value but also experience STEM for themselves. 

Parent Education

We provide parent and troop leader education at some of our council-led events. As part of the workshop, we provide handouts and education on STEM topics as well as using the Volunteer Toolkit to adults in attendance. This program is only available at select activities led by council staff, not activities hosted by Service Units or community partners.

Council Staff Support

Parents and volunteers are also welcome to contact us with questions about STEM activities. Our program team is happy to answer any questions about STEM curriculum or offer guidance about doing STEM with your girls. Please email info@gsutah.org with any questions that you have.

 
Women in STEM

Women are in the minority in most STEM fields, with the exception of social science and biosciences, and make up one quarter of the overall STEM workforce. The state of women in STEM is often referred to as the leaky pipeline. While 75% of girls show an interest in STEM careers in middle school that decreases to 15% by the end of high school. Only 12% of women in college receive their bachelor’s degree in STEM and only 25% of these women still work in STEM after 10 years. This leaky pipeline also continues through academia, with women earning less masters degrees and PhDs. And this leaky pipeline may start earlier than we think, with some studies suggesting girls start losing interest faster than boys as early as third grade.

Access to STEM activities, encouragement, financial aid, and social pressures are all factors in the lack of women in STEM and in women leaving the field. Girl Scouts seeks to change the outcomes for women in STEM by providing girls with engaging and progressive STEM activities. GSU is starting their STEM program with this goal in mind.

The Benefits of Girl Scout STEM Programs
  • STEM Interest: Girls are excited about STEM subjects and want to learn more about them. After a Girl Scout STEM program, 42-56% of girls reported liking science more and 39-42% reported liking math more.
  • STEM Confidence: Girls have confidence in their STEM skills and abilities. Up to 92% of Girl Scout STEM program participants report higher confidence in their science and math abilities.
  • STEM Competence: Girls think scientifically to solve problems. Girls reported that through Girl Scout STEM programs they improved their skills in problem solving, designing solutions, and thinking about different ways to solve problems.
  • STEM Value: Girls understand the importance and relevance of STEM to people and society. Over half of girls who participated in STEM strongly agree that scientists and engineers work on things that help people and that STEM professionals make a difference in the world.

Through Girl Scout STEM programs, girls are able to lead their own exploration of STEM, engage in cooperative learning and teamwork, solve problems, and take on leadership roles. STEM activities provide hands-on learning opportunities and give girls the opportunities to learn through trial and error. Girls learn about STEM careers and report that they are more likely to take STEM classes in school. Girl Scouts also provides mentorship opportunities and allows caring adults to help girls feel confident in STEM. In fact, 77% of girls say that because of Girl Scouts they are considering a career in technology.

See the STEM program benefits report from the Girl Scout Research Initiative here.

STEM Fun Fact!

Women have made many valuable contributions to advance STEM fields, like developing a method to classify stars by temperature (Annie Jump Cannon), advancing our understanding of radiation (Marie Curie), characterizing the structure of DNA (Rosalind Franklin), and writing the first computer program (Ada Lovelace).