Filling a vest or sash with colorful patches and badges is a wonderful way for Girl Scouts to remember all the adventures and skills they are experiencing. Both badges and patches and an important part of the Girl Scout experience, many people use the words interchangeably without understanding the important difference between the two.
What is the difference? I’m glad you asked!
Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts said it best,
“Every badge you earn is tied up to your motto. This badge is not a reward for something you have done once or for an examination you have passed. Badges are not medals to wear on your sleeve to show what a smart girl you are. A badge is a symbol that you have done the thing that stands for often enough, thoroughly enough, and well enough to be prepared to give service in it. You wear the badge to let people know that you are prepared and will to be called on because you are a Girl Scout. And Girl Scouting is not just knowing, but doing. Not just doing, but being.”
Juliette Gordon Low
Badges are to help girls explore their interest and learn new skills. They require specific steps and are displayed on the front of their uniforms.
The steps for each badge are listed in the badge descriptions that are published in the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting. Girls must complete each step to earn the badge.
Here is a complete listing of badges for every age level.
Patches are similar to badges in look, but are considered “unofficial” and are worn on the back of the girls sash or vest. Patches are handy if the girls want to do a fun activity or try something new that isn’t badge related.
Girls can get a fun patch for any activity they participate in through Girl Scouts. It could be a hike, museum visit, STEAM program, or a virtual event, she has no limit to the number of patches she can display on her back.
Fun patches are the best! They give the girls the freedom to get creative and mix in activities for service, for celebrations, and for team building/bonding, or just for fun! Recently we met Vanessa, a Daisy in Troop 10581 Vanessa and her grandmother did virtual Girl Scout activities all summer, and collected so many patches her grandmother added a panel on the back of her vest!
Girl Scouts love to collect the patches and their vests/sashes become a scrapbook of all their adventures and accomplishments. Here are a few more patches to add to your girls’ collections this winter and some trivia to test your badge/patch knowledge.
Hello and welcome to our brand-new monthly series! Each month we will share a post focused on STEAM activities and snacks you can do at home with your family or with your troop! If you are interested, don’t forget to subscribe to the GSHPA Blog to be sure you don’t miss a single post!
So, let’s jump into this month’s STEAM Snack! Today’s post is inspired by December, my favorite month! I love that it is officially cold enough for snow, not to mention December is also my birthday month! So to get in the spirit of winter today I have snow themed projects and snacks for you! If you have a favorite that is not included below, please let us know in the comments!
An engineer is someone who solves problems with creative solutions, usually through design and building. Engineers use their imaginations to invite new things, develop new and improved designs and much more! Incorporating engineering into your activities can be a great way to assist young girls learn problem-solving skills that help make the world a better place!
Engineers use the “engineering design process” to work through solutions and designs, which also embodies skills that Girl Scouts can adapt to any situation.
The engineering design process is:
Define the Problem
Identify the constraints on your solution (time, money, materials) and criteria for success
Brainstorm multiple solutions for the problem
Select the most promising solution
Prototype your solution
Test and evaluate your prototype
Iterate to improve your prototype
Communicate your solution
What if I’m not an expert in engineering?
We are not all engineers, and it is common to feel like we may not know enough to lead girls through an engineering activity. As long as you have the ambition and enthusiasm to try you will do great! Just focus on the steps of the engineering design process, let the girls lead their own their own projects, and see where it goes. The group will develop many different designs as the girls use their imagination to solve the challenge!
If you are feeling like you would like additional knowledge from an engineering expert that is okay too! You can reach out to your troop parents, friends, relatives or other GSHPA troop leaders on the GSHPA Facebook page to see if there is an engineer you can invite to talk to your girls.
How do I get started?
Start by taking some time to look over the engineering design process. If you would like more information take a look atthis video from KQED Quest that explains this process by using tacos!
Once you have an understanding of the process you will want to gather supplies for your activity. We recommend trying out the activity on your own before introducing it to your girls. It is always easier to guide girls through an activity when you have tried it yourself. Just start at the beginning and work your way through each step. As you go, make notes (mental or written) on how each step works for you along with any modifications you might make for your Girl Scouts! When you are done you will even have a prototype to show off and share with the group!
Daisy: Journey Think like an Engineer
Brownie: Journey Think like an Engineer
Junior: Journey Think like an Engineer
Cadette: Journey Think like an Engineer
Senior: Journey Think like an Engineer
Ambassador: Journey Think like an Engineer
The activity below will complete the first step of the Journey: Think like an Engineer for each program level! In this activity girls will talk about the design process, build their very own catapult and have a great time too!
If you have Brownie Girl Scouts, please note that the catapult can count as one of their build challenges for this Journey, they will need to complete three builds in total.
Materials: Cotton balls, construction paper, popsicle/craft sticks, straws, toothpicks, pipe cleaners, plastic spoons, tape, string, glue, rubber bands, and any other building/decorating supplies you’d like to add!
Introduction: Start by talking to the group about the basics of engineering, how to be an engineer and the engineering design process. We recommend sharing that video we included above, who doesn’t love talking about tacos! If you have a large group or girls who work better as a team, feel free to have them pair up at this point.
Problem to Solve: The goal is to build a device/catapult that can throw a “snowball” (use a cotton ball or piece of paper)
Identify Requirements and Limitations:Build a device that is accurate and precise using only the materials provided.
Brainstorming Ideas for Solutions (5 min): Have the girls make a list of all possible devices that can throw a “snowball” across the room. If you are working with younger girls who need help writing, have them draw their ideas instead!
Select (5-10 min.): Once their lists (or drawings) are complete, have the girls weight their options and decide which one to build. After selecting their project they should draw their design, it is important to make it as detailed as possible. When working with older girls feel free to have them add additional details, such as the materials needed, etc.
Creation: (25-30 min.): Next the girls should create their snowball thrower/catapult! Just keep in mind they may need to change their design several times as they try it out!
Prototype:During the “Creation” phase girls will begin building using the materials they have been given. Traditionally this can feel chaotic, but try to embrace it! Since each girl will work at their own pace, you will want to move around the group to guide them when they feel stuck. When troubleshooting you can create your own questions or use some of these:
We know this design isn’t working, but what IS working?
How can you support it?
Is there something you can do to make it easier to use?
What ideas do you have to add?
Test and Evaluate: Remind the girls that as they are testing their prototypes to continue to ask themselves questions about how it is working and what changes they can make.
Iterate:As the girls make improvements based on tests be available to give feedback! It is important to let them know what is working well and help guide them if they feel stuck about how to get them to work.
Activity Tip: We recommend setting up a “testing zone” that the girls can visit to test their catapults/throwers. If you have a designated area it will help limit the spread of “snowballs” and make clean up easier. You should also give the girls targets to hit (such as a paper, box, etc.) to help them evaluate their designs.
Communicate Your Solution (10-15 min.): Once the girls have finished have them share their ideas with the group! When sharing ask the girls to talk about their designs, their process and why they made the choices they did. We recommend talking about engineering with the group as well. Do they think professional engineers get it right the first time? No! And that is why they do the process and prototype, just like the girls did in this activity.
If you need inspiration, check out these videos! While these videos offer a few designs you can find many more on YouTube by searching: “popsicle stick catapult easy”.
Congratulations, you did it! You deserve a snack, try building your own snowman!
Ingredients:graham crackers, peanut butter or Nutella like spread, banana slices, raisins, pretzel sticks, and some sprinkles for fun.
Spread some peanut butter/Nutella on your graham cracker
Place your banana slices in place to build your snowman
Add pretzel stick arms, and raisin eyes and buttons
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 registerhere 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
In the United States, every four years, those 18 years of age or older are given the opportunity to go to the polls to vote and elect a president. Pretty exciting, right? Is today, November 3rd, the only date Americans get to participate in our government? I hope you are answering no!
It is our job as US Citizens to spend time learning and researching the issues impacting our communities. Yes, adults are able to vote, but this is so much more to our government than just the presidential elections.
Long before Girl Scouts are old enough to vote they can be engaged in their local and national governments.
Girl Scouts offer a wide variety of citizenship badges to help girls learn how the government works and how they can be involved. We have grouped these lessons into four important topics that will help every one of all ages understand and feel comfortable engaging and voicing their opinions.
The Rule of Law:
The United States works within the idea that we all follow the rule of the law. When starting to have law oriented conversations with your troop it is important to explain it in a way they will understand. A good way to start is to discuss how the laws have been created and how the law is enforced. A great way of explaining it to girls in your troop can be through Girl Scout Badges.
Badges to explore: Junior Inside Government
The Three Branches of Government:
It is best to think of the United States Government as a tree that has three branches to keep it balanced. The three branches work together to keep the tree upright and strong. So what are these three branches? First, we have the legislative branch who makes the rules. Second, the judiciary branch, which is comprised of judges who decide individual cases. And third, the executive branch which includes the president and agencies who carry out and enforce these laws. The three branches work together to protect the law. Additionally, it is important to note that these branches can be found at all levels of government including federal, state and local.
Badges to Explore: Democracy for Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors
Influences on Government:
Today we live in a world where news is available 24 hours a day. It can be found everywhere we look, from television and the radio to the internet, mail, billboards, etc. It is clear that those sharing information in the news are very passionate about their beliefs. Traditionally these beliefs and influences have the ability to change what issues are up for debate. When discussing this topic with your troops it is important to give them an understanding of how things such as media, money, etc. may affect the information they are seeing. It is important to have a well-rounded view and the badges included below will help you start those conversations with your troop.
Badges to Explore: Cadette Finding Common Ground, Cadette Netiquette, Senior Truth Seeker
Everyone Can Be Involved
It is important for Girl Scouts to be familiar and involved with their local, state and federal governments. Voting is not the only way to have an impact. Girls of all ages can learn about the causes they care about to form their own opinions. They can also write letters, visit elected officials and volunteer in the community to make an impact.
It is important to keep in mind how valuable each and every individual can be. In his Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln, said that the government as a whole is “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
So it is important for Girl Scouts to have these discussions with their families, friends and troops to learn and practice participating the government. If you would like additional ideas on how to start this process, please check out the badges included below or visit www.gshpa.org.
Badges to Explore: Ambassador Public Policy, Brownie Celebrating Community, Daisy Good Neighbor