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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 9% as opposed to 5% 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 a variety of STEM topics. 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 2020. From Cybersecurity and Computer Science to Engineering and Astronomy, there’s lots of exciting activities for your girl!

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, Special Agent, 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 specialty event to astronomy overnights at our two camps, we offer astronomy programming that follows badge curriculum as well as providing a hands-on experience.
  • STEM and STEAM 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 Explore and Lego League 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 2022-2023 season are in the process of forming. Teams are tentatively available in the following ages:

  • FIRST Lego League Explore - Grades 1-4 (ages 6-10). Girl Scouts build and program a simple machine based on the theme of the year as well as make a poster about research they have done on that topic. Teams show their machine and project at an Expo. A team consists of 2 coaches and 4-6 girls.
  • FIRST Lego League Challenge - Grades 4-8 (ages 9-14). Girl Scouts build and program a Lego robot to perform challenges based on a theme. They also design and share an engineering project based around the same theme. Teams compete in a regional competition and may move on to the state tournament. A team consists of two coaches and 5-10 girls.
  • FIRST Tech Challenge – Grades 7-12 (ages 12-18). Girl Scouts build and program a robot using various parts. They also complete service and education hours in the community. They have a competition and may move on to other tournaments. A team consists of 2 coaches and 5-10 Girl Scouts.

If you have a girl who is interested in a FIRST team or you are interested in coaching a FIRST team, please fill out the interest survey. Teams are formed in late summer and early fall based on the location and availability of girls and coaches. Teams run early fall through early winter but may vary based on level and timing of competitions.

Interested coaches should complete the interest form. More information on training will be available to those who indicate an interest in coaching. Coaches can be any gender but must become a Girl Scouts of Utah member and pass a background check. Coaches do not need to have a STEM background to coach, just a willingness to learn. Some training is provided and a council staff member will provide support. One coach must be certified in CPR/First Aid.

Interested girls and families are welcome at the FIRST Open House on August 16, 2022. Girls who join a robotics team must be Girl Scouts of Utah members. There is a small fee for the season, which can be paid with Activity Credits or activity scholarships.

Please email questions about FIRST teams to programs@gsutah.org.

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

GSU Patch Program

When you have completed a council patch, complete this survey so you may pick up your patches from our shop.

Dark Skies
Utah has some of the darkest skies, perfect for stargazing. Learn about other cultures, make a star wheel, study light pollution, and explore astronomy.
Dark Skies - web version
Dark Skies - printer friendly

Engineering Girls
Do you want to find problems, brainstorm solutions, and create projects? Learn how to go through a problem-solving process. Are you curious about engineering?

Math Genius
We need math, use math, and must understand math in so many various areas of life. You don’t have to be brilliant in math to earn this patch – just start where you are! Math is everywhere around us.

Starry Nights 
Do you know, or what to know all of the planets in our solar system? Do you adventure outside at night to look at the sky? Do you want to go to space someday?

 
Volunteer Support

At Girl Scouts, we know that our troop leaders and volunteers provide girls with many wonderful experiences, including STEM. We aim to provide volunteer support in STEM through various means, such as education and resources.

STEM Training

We offer a STEM training option for volunteers and older girls. In a 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. Trainings may be offered in-person or virtually, and topics change to reflect current badges. 

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. We can also answer questions about Volunteer Toolkit curriculum and adapting activities to fit your troop’s needs. Please email info@gsutah.org with any questions that you have.

Girl Scouts Research Institute

Girl Scouts of the USA has conducted two research studies on STEM. You can find their results in the Generation STEM and the Girl Scout STEM Programs Research Reports. You can also see a summary of the results of the Girl Scout STEM Programs research report outlined below.


STEM Resources
Engineering, Computer Science, and Physics

Alice 
Alice is an open-source block-based coding program, where people can create animations and program simple games.
Recommended for middle school and older.
https://www.alice.org/

Design Squad
Hands-on STEM activities including some of the mechanical engineering badges.
All ages.
Badge or Journey connection: Mechanical Engineering badges.
https://pbskids.org/designsquad

Engineer Girl
Engineering activities and information.
Aimed at middle school but may be appropriate for other ages.
https://www.engineergirl.org/

Mouse
Coding platform with tutorials for projects for kids.
All ages.
https://projects.mouse.org/

Scratch
Coding platform for kids that includes simple animations and games.
Recommended for ages 8-16.
https://scratch.mit.edu/

Scratch Jr
Simplified version of Scratch for younger kids.
Recommended for ages 5-7.
https://www.scratchjr.org/

Try Engineering
Interactive games for kids, resources for teachers and parents.
All ages.
https://tryengineering.org/students/

Chemistry, Biosciences, Astronomy, and Citizen Science

Globe at Night
Citizen science for light pollution.
All ages.
Badge or Journey connection: Space Science badges, Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey
https://www.globeatnight.org/

Go Science Girls
Science experiments, broken down by age, along with other science education resources.
Designed for ages 1-9.
https://gosciencegirls.com/

National Institutes of Health STEM Resources
Links to resources and activities for teaching STEM.
All ages.
https://science.education.nih.gov/

Science Fun
Assorted science experiments.
All ages.
Badge or Journey connection: Home Scientist badge
https://www.sciencefun.org/kidszone/experiments/

Sci Girls
Science activities accompanying TV episodes. Also has citizen science information.
Designed for middle school.
Badge or Journey connection: Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey
https://pbskids.org/scigirls/

SciStarter
Citizen Science projects to complete the Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey. Choose from projects all over the country and world.
All ages.
Badge or Journey connection: Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey
https://scistarter.com/girlscouts/info

Stellarium
Online planetarium.
All ages.
Badge or Journey connection: Space Science badges
https://stellarium-web.org/

Mixed and Interdisciplinary

Carnegie STEM Girls
Fun STEM activities designed to get girls and teens involved in STEM.
All ages.
https://carnegiestemgirls.org/stem-activities/activities/

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Assorted STEM activities to do at home.
All ages.
Badge or Journey connection: Space Science badges
https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/

NASA STEM Engagement
Various space science and STEM activities for families, teachers, and student resources.
All ages.
https://www.nasa.gov/stem/foreducators/informal/index.html

NISE Network Activities
National Informal Science Education Network, includes resources aimed at museums and informal science educators.
All ages.
Badge or Journey connection: multiple
https://www.nisenet.org/browse-topic

Science Buddies
Assorted STEM Experiments
All Ages
Badge or Journey connection: Home Scientist, Mechanical Engineering badges
https://www.sciencebuddies.org/stem-activities 

Miscellaneous

If/Then Collection
Assorted videos from real women in STEM.
All Ages.
Badge or Journey connection: STEM Careers badges
https://www.ifthencollection.org/search

STEM Trading Cards at Home
Collection of STEM activities as well as STEM trading cards and posters.
All ages.
https://www.stemtradingcards.org/

 
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 almost 75% of teen girls show an interest in STEM, that doesn’t translate into pursuing STEM as a career, with under 30% of women in college majoring in a STEM field. Women also leave STEM careers at a higher rate, with only 25% women with STEM degrees still work in STEM after 10 years. This leaky pipeline is also seen in academia, with women earning less masters degrees and PhDs. New research suggests that this leaky pipeline starts earlier than previously thought, with girls losing interest and confidence in STEM 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.

The Benefits of Girl Scout STEM Programs

Based on research by the Girl Scout Research Institute, girls benefit from Girl Scout STEM programs is four important ways:

  • 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. Most girls (up to 93%) also reported that they found an adult who made them feel valuable through Girl Scout programs. The benefits Girl Scouts STEM programs provide help girls take on the challenge of STEM and prepare them for future careers.

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).