The Girl Scouts are offering new avenues for learning and growth through a variety of STEM-related programming, which includes field trips and hands-on experiments and projects.

The Girl Scouts are offering new avenues for learning and growth through a variety of STEM-related programming, which includes field trips and hands-on experiments and projects.

Photo provided by Christina Marshall


Girl Scouts implement new STEM-focused badges and activities

By: Brendan Losinski | C&G Newspapers | Published August 7, 2020

 Girl Scouts in southeastern Michigan are able to earn 24 new badges in areas related to science, technology, engineering and math.

Girl Scouts in southeastern Michigan are able to earn 24 new badges in areas related to science, technology, engineering and math.

Photo provided by Christina Marshall

 The goal of several new badges adopted by the Girl Scouts of America is to promote interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

The goal of several new badges adopted by the Girl Scouts of America is to promote interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

Photo provided by Christina Marshall

METRO DETROIT — The Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan are encouraging interest in science, technology, engineering and math in their Scouts through new programs and the addition of 24 new badges.

The new badges are part of a push by the Girl Scouts of America. Tiffiny Griffin, the vice president of programs for the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, said the new badges are designed to show the Scouts ways to explore STEM subjects in a variety of ways.

“We just released several new badges,” she said. “These include three automotive badges: design, engineering and manufacturing. They will sketch their own vehicles, build their own model vehicles and understand the whole process. There’s also career inspiration badges where girls will meet women in STEM fields. They can explore those careers in Brownies through Cadets. The next set is life skills badges. These are given for Scouts who learn about local government and find out how they can have their voices heard. The last group is entrepreneurship badges. It lets them dig deeper into how to create their own business and how to put ideas into place.”

Chris Nichols, a program specialist for the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, said their hope is that this will be part of a new wave of young women moving into STEM-related careers.

“We want girls to see where they can be in the next 10 years or 15 years,” Nichols remarked. “STEM has always been a part of Girl Scouts, everything we’ve done has always had a bit of a science, technology, engineering or math related angle to it, but we are now just being a little more explicit about it.”

“It’s important to start the girls young when it comes to STEM,” added Griffin. “Because we want to change the trajectory of what we want to teach girls, we want to start early. We want them to have the opportunity to learn new things and also meet people in those fields.”

The badges are being introduced in line with the new school year, when most troops will begin meeting again either in person or virtually.

“The badges are brand-new as of July 21,” said Nichols. “We want to fold them into our fall programming lineup. We were actually the pilot program for the automotive badges, and we worked with General Motors to bring them into being.”

Griffin said they are working to prepare troop leaders for the new programming.

“We are creating a training program for our troop leaders and helping them embrace STEM,” she said. “We will have some handouts and training for the adults and give out a toolkit for how to help encourage Scouts to pursue each of these badges. This includes recommended activities and field trips.”

These additional activities include field trips and an all-girl robotics league for the Scouts.

Nichols added that ensuring troop leaders are comfortable with the material is the first step to ensuring the success of the new initiative.

“One of the barriers we run into in terms of promoting STEM in Girl Scouts is that leaders that provide the badges and provide the activities ... if they see these STEM badges and they don’t have a STEM background, they come to us and say they don’t feel comfortable teaching these concepts because they don’t know themselves,” she explained. “So we’ve been really careful to make all of these badges accessible at a beginner level. You don’t need to build cars on the weekend or program computers or have experience working with robots.”

Both Griffin and Nichols said the new programming should be accessible to any girl involved in the Scouts.

“They are all designed to be done unplugged, so you don’t need a computer, you don’t need particular hardware or software to get the Scouts involved. They’re designed to be simple,” said Nichols. “We suggest (troop leaders) listen to what their girls are into. If they are into robotics in school, we suggest they lean in that area, for instance.”

Griffin said that the Scouts are not taking anything away, and that they will still offer all of the same activities they always have, but that they want to add new avenues for learning and growth for the Girl Scouts.

“Girl Scouts is so much more than cookies, camps and crafts,” she said. “We want to introduce girls to a new array of opportunities that can help them change the world. We want them to become informed about what they can do with their education and their future careers.”