Have you ever thought, “How do I talk to my girls about STEAM when I have no experience?” Do you want to encourage them to learn more about science, technology, engineering, art, and math, but worry because you aren’t an expert?
STEAM is important in our world today. As you look around you will notice so much of our world is STEAM-focused, including jobs, programming, architecture, engineering, biology, app building, construction, and much more. STEAM also teaches creativity, problem solving, logic, and teamwork. When keeping this in mind it can be hard to know where to start and how to best design activities for your girls when looking at Girl Scout Badges and Journeys.
GSHPA is here to help! We will be posting a monthly activity and snack that will be focused on a principle of STEAM that you can do at home with your family or with your troop. You don’t need to be a scientist or engineer to include STEAM into your troop meetings! It is important to try to incorporate STEAM into your troops meetings to the girls’ learn through skill-building opportunities in robotics, programming, and citizen science. And most importantly these activities will boost their confidence in STEAM-related fields. We have 4 easy tips to help you feel more confident to lead the girls and present them with STEAM ideas.
- Learn alongside them (you don’t have to know everything)
Do not worry about not having all the answers or knowing everything about the field you are talking about. STEAM emphasizes skills like critical thinking and creative problem solving. Ask the girls to observe, ask questions, and experiment. Show them that it is ok to not know the answers and model how to look up questions and find the answers from reliable websites or books. Seeing an adult enthusiastic about asking, investigating and learning with them is the best way to teach the girls about STEAM.
2. Present them with strong female STEAM role models for inspiration
There are so many amazing women leading in the diverse STEAM fields and they are excited to share their knowledge and experience with your girls. Knowing a STEAM role model likes to do the same things as they do, hike, play sports, knit, cook, or binge watch shows helps girls see the STEAM experts as people just like them.
These role models could be friends or family of a troop member, volunteers from a local non-profit, business, or school. If you need help finding a mentor reach out to your Girl Scout council, they should be able to help.
GSHPA is hosting quarterly Career Chats with professionals in various fields. Our next chat is Monday, Dec 14, 2020 you can register here to talk with an American Airlines Pilot and the first female commander of F-16 pilots in Israel.
3. Let the girls’ interests guide the meeting
Sometimes when a topic is new or intimidating we tend to over plan and worry about if we are presenting all the facts. We encourage you to take a step back and focus your plans toward asking questions rather than providing a list of facts. Questions allow the girls to take the meeting in any direction they like to discover the new ideas! All this can mean the meeting might go in directions you didn’t plan, that is okay, just go along with it! When the girls lead the discussion it increases their learning and inspires them to follow their curiosity. Also, let the girls do the hands-on work themselves. I know it is tempting to step in and “fix” something for the girls, but it is important in building STEAM confidence for the girls to work through it and discover that she can do it herself.
4. Do hands-on projects with everyday materials
When planning keep in mind these two points: hands on and on hand! You don’t need the expensive, technical equipment to do amazing activities. Taking chances, making mistakes and getting messy is the best way to explore STEAM! STEAM learning can happen anywhere with easy-to-find materials to design, build, and experiment.
Hands on projects keeps their interest and gets them engaged. It also allows the girls to work at their own pace while testing and adjusting their own ideas. Think of your role as a Troop Leader to be a guide while asking questions like, “What can you do to solve the problem?”, “What inspired that idea?” or “Is there another way?”, rather than giving the girls the answers.
Ready to get started? First project.
Cereal Box Invention
Materials Needed: cereal box, scissors, tape, glue, markers/crayons, string, anything you find at home you want to use to build.
Inventors tend to look at the world differently than most people. The average person might look at a coat hanger and only see its intended use, to hand clothes. An inventor might look at that hanger and see all the other uses for the hanger, such as an antenna, a hot dog cooker, a hair curler, etc. In this activity the girls will look at the world like an inventory, through a lens of creativity!
The Engineering Design Process:
Step One – Define and Brainstorm: You have 3 minutes to come up with as many uses for a cereal box as possible. You want to generate as many unique uses as you can. Wild ideas are encouraged! Ready, set, GO!!!
Step Two – Select: Now that you have a list, review it, is there an idea on that list that really excites you? Or you are curious about? Circle it!
Step Three – Design: Draw it out and make a plan! I have found that telling someone about your plan helps flesh it out. Find someone to tell about your design.
Step Four – Prototype and Test: Start by building your prototype. A prototype is a physical representation of one or more of your ideas to show others. Just remember a prototype is a rough draft, you can make adjustments later!
Step Five – Evaluate and Improve: Evaluate your design: what is working, what isn’t? Make changes and test them out. Repeat this process until you are happy with your design.
Ask questions about the ideas and process. What was difficult in the Engineering Design Process? What surprised you about your design? How can you use this process moving forward?
By completing the activity above your girls will fulfill the requirements for the badges listed below. We recommend taking a look at the badge requirements for your level on Badge Explorer to see if you can adjust your prototype to fulfill another step or badge as well!
- Daisies: Think Like an Engineer Journey – Step 1
- Brownies: Inventor – Steps 1 & 2, Think Like an Engineer Journey – Step 1
- Juniors: Think like an Engineer Journey – Step 1
- Cadettes: Think like an Engineer Journey – Step 1
- Seniors: Think like an Engineer Journey – Step 1
- Ambassadors: Think like an Engineer Journey – Step 1