Backyard Camping

One of the easiest and inexpensive ways to get outdoors this summer is by traveling to your own backyard! You’ll save time and money, but can have just as much fun planning your backyard camping adventure as you would planning a trip away. Keep reading for some fun ideas for a summer backyard campout!

Shelter

First you’ll want to decide what kind of sleeping arrangements you’d like to have. Some of my favorite options include:

  • Setting up a tent: if you choose this option, you could sleep on the ground in your sleeping bags just like you might on a camping trip in the woods. Or, if you’re like me and enjoy a more comfortable arrangement, you could set up an air mattress with blankets and pillows for more of a “glamping” experience!
  • Create a tarp tent: all you need is a tarp and rope! This option would be more open-air than a tent, and allows you to sleep under the stars while still being protected from the elements. 
  • No shelter: if the weather is going to be nice overnight, you could choose no shelter at all! Remember to make sure this is a safe option – think about what kind of animals might come through your yard in the middle of the night

Remember that whatever shelter you choose to set up, you can make it as fun as you’d like! Adding extra blankets or stuffed animals will make the space nice and cozy. Some fairy lights strung up will provide you with light once it’s dark. Or if you want to imagine you are hiking through the mountains with only the items you can carry on your back, maybe your setup looks a little more rustic with just your shelter, sleeping bag, pillow, and a lantern. This camping adventure is completely up to you!

Activities

After your shelter is set up for the night, don’t forget to plan some camping activities! Some of our favorite Girl Scout activities include:

  • Singing songs around a campfire (don’t forget to have some fire starters on hand, as well as an adult!)
  • Going for a hike – this could be a walk through your neighborhood, where you listen for the sounds of nature, or if you have a hiking trail near your house you could explore that too!
  • Have an outdoor Soundscape Scavenger Hunt and listen to all of the different sounds nature has. 
  • Learn about the Leave No Trace principles, and make a plan to follow those principles both on your backyard camping adventure, as well as on future trips into the outdoors. 
  • Learn about the stars in the sky through GSHPA’s Constellation series. Remember to wait for the sun to set completely. You can use the app SkyView Lite (with parent permission), and watch the first video of the series here.
  • After the sun has set and you’re getting ready to sleep, another camping favorite you can do is storytelling!  Each person can take turns telling a story they’ve heard or have made up. Or you could make it a game by having each person say only one sentence of a story. Popcorn stories can be super silly since everyone only gets to say one sentence at a time!

Now that you have your shelter set up, and activities planned, we can’t forget one of the most important parts of a camping adventure…the food!

Backyard Cooking

Yes, it’s time for everyone’s favorite part: the food! We are going to be talking about all the fun and interesting ways to cook outside! Did you know that you can actually bake brownies in your backyard? How about a full chicken or a whole pie? Well you definitely can and we’re going to show you how!

Box Oven:

Kicking off our outdoor cooking adventure is a box oven! As the name suggests it is made with a cardboard box!

To create your Box Oven you will need:

  • A Cardboard Box (extra thick/sturdy if possible)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • 4-6 Empty Soda Cans
  • A Grill Rack (must fit inside box)
  • Charcoal
  • Small Aluminum Pan

You will want your box to have a flap to cover the opening like a door. The remaining flaps can be removed. Then start by covering your cardboard box in aluminum foil – shiny side out! Be sure to cover every inch of cardboard in foil to ensure it doesn’t burn!

Once covered place your empty soda cans on the sides to hold up your grill rack. After your box oven is all set up begin putting hot charcoal in your aluminum pan! Keep in mind each brick of charcoal will be around 50 degrees, so add enough to reach your desired temperature with that in mind!

Just let your box oven preheat – then start cooking! We recommend making brownies or pizza! And don’t forget a potholder or other heat protection!

Flower Pot:

Did you know you can grill using a flower point? You can – let’s talk about how!

To create this unique grill, you will need:

  • 10 Inch Ceramic Flower Pot (please use a plain undecorated flower pot)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Perlite
  • Charcoal

Start by putting a layer of aluminum foil on the inside of your flower pot – shiny side out! Once the inside is fully coated add your pearlite. Perlite is a mineral that reduces moisture and insulates heat which can be commonly found in any garden center or store. You will want to pour perlite to fill your lined flower pot about halfway. After this has been added place a layer of aluminum foil on top of the perlite. Top the aluminum foil with hot charcoal and you are ready to roll!

Once hot you can use your flower pot just like a grill! We recommend roasting hot dogs and marshmallows to start! It is a great option for Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts to try! You can even add a grilling rack to the top for more cooking options!

Tin Can Cooking:

Cooking on top of a tin can is great for camping, especially for breakfast! It is a great option for french toast and pancakes!

To create your own you will need:

  • #10 Tin Can (make sure the inside is not lined with plastic)
  • A Buddy Burner

Yes, that’s all you need! Before we talk about how to set up your tin can, let’s talk about how to make a Buddy Burner!

To create a Buddy Burner, you will need:

  • A Tuna Can (or similar – freshly washed)
  • Strips of Cardboard, Paper or Wood Shavings
  • Melted Wax

When making your Buddy Burner start by emptying, washing and drying your tuna can. After that fill the can with strips of cardboard, paper or wood shavings – this will be your fuel. When filling the can try not to pack your too tight to ensure air can circulate. We recommend making sure a few edges are sticking out for easy lighting.

Once you have filled your can simply pour melted wax inside about 2/3 of the way and allow to set! Once dry you are ready to get started!

So now that you have a Buddy Burner, let’s talk about your larger tin can! Start by washing and drying it. After that you should take a can open and create small holes along the top edge of the can, like the image above, to help with ventilation. And that’s it – you’re ready to get cooking!

Simply light the Buddy Burner and place your Tin Can Stove on top. Once hot you can use it to cookie pancakes, French toast and much more! After you’re done cooking we recommend flipping the top of your stove onto the Buddy Burner to extinguish it – just be careful, it will be hot!

We hope you enjoyed learning all about our favorite backyard cooking and camping methods! Be sure to share your favorites in the comments below!

STEAM Snack: Flying Machines

STEAM Snack: July 

Flying Machines 

For thousands of years people have wanted to fly. Our legends and fairy tales are full of stories about humans who can fly, gliding through the air.  

This month we will be looking at gravity, thrust, lift, and drag while the girls build their own flying machines.  The girls will use their powers of observation and problem-solving skills to modify and improve their designs to get the best results.  

Why Flying Machines?  

An object in flight is constantly in a tog us war between opposing forces, lift vs weight, and thrust vs drag.  Humans do not have wings or a power source strong enough to keep us moving through the air to sustain the lift needed for flight. We need help from machines. Planes and birds are both affected by the same forces in flight.  

What if I’m not an expert? 

This is a simple build to demonstrate how the forces impact an object in flight, there are some great resources in the Volunteer Toolkit for this badge that help you complete the build of the fling flyer.  To access the Volunteer Toolkit, visit your council’s website and click on MyGS. 

How do I get started? 

Materials you need:  

  • Scissors 
  • Ruler 
  • Pen or pencil
  • Cardstock (or other heavy paper)
  • Paper Clips
  • Open space 

Take the time to try out the demonstration ahead of time to make sure you don’t have too many surprises when showing the girls.   

Here are some discussion questions to get the girls thinking:  

  • What are some things that fly? 
  • Birds, airplane, helicopter, bugs, seeds, hot air balloon, ect.  
  • Do they all fly/glide the same way? 

The Badges: 

  • Daisy: 
  • Brownie: Mechanical Engineering: Fling Flyer – Step 1 
  • Junior:   
  • Cadette: 
  • Senior:  
  • Ambassador:  

The Science 

All things that fly or glide have to be able to provide enough lift force to oppose the weight force.  Gravity is a force that pulls everything toward the Earth’s surface, this pull is called weight force. Lift is a force that acts upwards against weight and is caused by the air moving over and under the wings. 

Thrust is the force that moves the object forward. Thrust is provided by: 

  • Muscles – birds and other flying animals, you with your paper flying machines 
  • Engines – airplanes 
  • Wind – kites, hot air balloons 
  • Gravity – For gliders to actually fly they are diving at a very shallow angle, birds do this to when they glide.  Your designs will also take advantage of this too.  

The force working against thrust is called drag.  This is caused by air resistance and acts in the opposite direction to the motion.  The amount of drag depends on the shape of the flying object, the density of the air and the speed of the object.  Think about the shape of a jet vs a hot air balloon. Thrust can overcome the force of drag.   

If the forces are equal the plane or bird will fly at a constant speed, when the forces are not equal then the object will speed up, slow down, or change direction towards the greatest force.  

The Activity 

Flying Machine Two: Helicopters 

Materials: Cardstock/, Paper clip, Scissors, ruler, glue 

  • Cut your paper into a 6 inch by 2 inch rectangle 
  • At one end, cut about 3 inches up the middle of your paper.  
  • Make two cuts on either side about ½ an inch higher than your cut.  
  • Fold the uncut end inward as shown 
  • Flatten and fold up a small piece of your paper on the end.  
  • Add a paper clip to hold things in place and add weight so that your helicopter stays upwards while flying.  

Fold your cut end in opposite directions to create your helicopter blades.  

To Fly:  

  • Grab them by the paperclip end and throw similar to a paper airplane.   
  • You will want to find a high place like a balcony or deck to see what they can do.  
  • You can also simple drop them from your high place and watch.  

Wrap up:  

After each build ask the girls:  

  • How does this design overcome the weight and drag forces? 
  • What is creating the thrust? Muscles, engine, gravity? 
  • What can you do to improve the design? 
  • Make it go faster? 
  • Fly longer? 
  • Fly straighter? 

A Plane Snack 

Materials Needed: Graham crackers, grapes/blueberries (round fruit for wheels), celery, and peanut butter, toothpicks 

  1. Cut your celery stick to the size that you want your airplane to be.  
  1. Fill your celery stick with peanut butter.   
  1. Using your toothpick attach two grapes to either side of the plane for the wheels.  
  1. Place half of a graham cracker that has been cut lengthwise across the wheels on top of the peanut butter.   
  1. Cut two small very thin celery pieces and attach to the front of your celery stick for propellers.  

STEAM Snack: Beach Day Currents

Summer! I know many people take the opportunity during summer to visit the ocean.  We thought having a STEAM activity to go along with our beach plans would be a fun way to start our summer.  There are so many topics to talk about with the ocean, so this time we are focusing on currents, let us carry you away.

Why Currents?

Currents are important to ocean life, global weather, and for shipping.  Environmentalist can study currents to learn how pollution is transported around the world.  Humans and sea-life have been using currents to travel the world forever, and it is important to learn how we are all connected.

What if I’m not an expert?

During this activity you are going to show the girls the basics of how currents work, hot and cold water.  There is a great TedEd talk that explains currents in a fun way for adults and kids.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4pWafuvdrY&t=35s

Don’t feel like you need to explain everything, you are not expected to know it all, share videos you find that are created by the experts.  If the girls have a question you don’t know the answer to, take a breath and ask you favorite search engine.  Please take a moment to look at the source before sharing with the girls, not everything on the internet is fact.

Here are some discussion questions to get the girls thinking about the science of sound:

  • How does the currents impact you?
  • How do you impact the ocean?
  • How does sea-life use ocean currents?
  • How can we help the ocean?

How do I get started?

Materials you need:

  • Clear Bowl
  • 2 cups
  • Eyedropper
  • Hot and cold water
  • Blue food coloring
  • Salt
  • Paper
  • Crayons/markers
  • Pencil

Take the time to try out the demonstration ahead of time to make sure you don’t have too many surprises when showing the girls. 

The Badges:

  • Daisy:
  • Brownie: Eco Friend Step 1
  • Junior: Animal Habitats Step 2
  • Cadette:
  • Senior:
  • Ambassador:

Demonstration 1: What is a current?

The Science

The water in the ocean is always moving, thanks to two types of currents – surface and deep.

Surface currents are moved by the winds in the area and affect the top of the ocean.  These currents usually push water towards land and create the waves we see.

Deep currents are made by the sinking of cold water from the earth’s poles, which then drifts to the equator, warms up and rises to the surface and then drifts to the poles again.  There is now a cycle of warming rising water and cold sinking water around the world’s oceans.

We are going to do a demonstration to simulate deep water currents in a glass.  

Step One: Fill one of the cups with half a cup of cold water.  Add a teaspoon of salt and several drops of food coloring.  Fill the other cup with half a cup of warm water and add a teaspoon of salt plus several drops of food coloring mix both cubs well.  Keep them separate.

Step Two: In the bowl, mix one cup of cold water with one tablespoon of salt and mix well.  Now use the eyedropper to slowly add some of the warm blue water and observe what happens.  Once you have done your observations, pour the water out

Step Three: In the bowl, mix one cup of warm water with one tablespoon of salt and mix well.  Now, use the eyedropper to slowly add some of the cold blue water and observe what happens.  Once you are done with your observations, pour the water out. 

What do you see?

You should see that the warm colored water rose to the top as it mixed with the cold water.  You should see that the cold colored water sank to the bottom as it mixed with the warm water.

Explanation

The currents you are observing are convection currents, they are found in the deep waters of the ocean.  Cold water sinks and hot water rises creating movement, or currents, in the ocean.

Activity 1: Who uses Currents?

The Science

Ocean currents flow like huge rivers, sweeping along predictable paths, some are deep, some are at the surface, and some are short, other cross oceans and even the globe. 

Currents help control the climate and are also critical important to sea life.  They carry nutrients and food to organisms that live permanently attached in one place and carry ocean life to new places.

Ocean currents serve as giant highways, helping move migrating animals around the ocean quickly in search of their next meal.  Many animals, especially large ones like wales, sharks, and sea turtles, follow ocean currents to and from their feeding and breeding grounds.

Often you will find smaller animals following the large ones around the currents.  They will tag along for protection and also to gobble up scraps of food, dead skin, and other things to eat. 

Humans have used ocean currents to explore the Earth, they affect the shipping industry.  Many of the items we buy have spent time on a ship in the currents.  Commercial and recreational fishing and recreational sailors use the current to navigate the oceans and find their catches. 

Ocean currents also play a role in moving pollution around.  Oil spills and trash travel around the oceans on the currents.  Debris from Japan after the tsunami years ago washed up on Pacific Northwest beaches. 

We will now create our own ocean current super highway. 

Step One: Brainstorm a list of marine life that uses currents

  • Animals who use currents: whales, sharks, sea turtles, jellyfish, seals, fish, plankton (plants and animals), krill, eggs, larvae, manta rays, shrimp, sunfish, eels, dolphins, lizards. Other items in the currents: ships, nets, trash, oil, trees, debris.

Step Two: Decide who will be in your current and draw them on your paper. 

  • Keep in mind how the animals might interact with each other.  Who is using the current to travel? Who is using it to find food?
  • You can have the girls draw their current or cut out pictures and make it more like a collage. 

Step Three: Share your current with the group.

Wrap up:

Scientist think that we have only explored 5% of the Earth’s oceans.  What would you like to explore and discover?

An Oceanic Snack

Dolphins are a favorite ocean animal for many and here is an easy way to create a adorable snack that is easy and healthy.

Step One: Cut a banana in half.

Step Two: Cut a slit on the stem to make a “mouth”. 

Step Three: Stick a blueberry or other small fruit in the mouth or even a goldfish cracker. 

Step Four: place hungry dolphin into a cup or small bowl filled with fruit.

Some inspiration for your bananas

Now that you know all about currents, share what you learned and let us know in the comments below!

Fun Patches to Earn this Spring

Fun patches are a great way to celebrate the adventures and activities girls participate in, outside of badge work. While badges help girls explore their interests and learn new skills by completing specific steps to earn the badge, fun patches are just that, for fun! Patches are always displayed on the back of girls’ uniforms, and a great way for girls to remember the fun things they did with their troop. There are fun patches out there for anything you could imagine, from outdoor experiences, to STEAM activities and events, and even virtual activities.  There is something for everyone! 

With so much of this past year being spent more virtually than before, it has allowed us to learn and do things that we may never have experienced otherwise. For example, touring museums across the world from the comfort of our own couch, how cool is that? Fun patches are similar. Troops now have access to the world at their fingertips, and girls can display their adventures on their uniforms as a reminder of the exciting experiences they’ve had in Girl Scouts. 

I connected with Senior Girl Scout Leah Hilton from troop 70569 to hear more about her favorite fun patch. “My favorite fun patch that I have earned is the Girl Scouts Love State Parks patch. I love exploring the outdoors with my Girl Scout friends, so this patch was perfect for me. To earn this patch, I went to Ricketts Glen State Park. We met a State Park Ranger who told us about the park history, the local geography, and how they test the water quality in the park.  She then led the group on a really cool hike where we got to see a lot of amazing waterfalls.  She also gave us a book that showed ways to identify the different trees in the park, and then we practiced identifying trees. I can now identify white pines by the number of pine needles in a cluster, birch by its peeling bark, and black oak trees by the leaf growth pattern.   

This fun patch helped grow my love for the outdoors, and I have since visited other state parks.  Each time I visit a state park I look to see if they sell any patches that I can add to my collection! 

Here are a few ideas for fun patches you can do with your girls this spring: 

Road Trip Patch 

–          Plan a virtual road trip together 

–          National Parks Virtual Tours 

Game Night Patch 

–          Virtual Game Ideas 

–          How To Plan a Virtual Game Night 

Earth Day Patch 

–          Celebrating Earth Day With Your Troop 

–          Oil Spill Activity 

Yoga Pose Patch 

–          Girl Scouts Love Yoga 

–          Yoga At Home with GS Spirit of Nebraska 

Backyard Camping Patch 

–          Family Backyard Camping Ideas 

–          Camp like a Girl Scout at Home! 

–          Outdoor Experience – Girl Scouts at Home 


Posted by Colleen Sypien

5 Patches to Earn this Winter

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! 

Badges 

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 

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!  

Vanessa showing off her patches!

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.  

Virtual Hangout Patch  

Anti-Racism Patch 

Baking at Home Patch  

Future STEM-inist Patch  

Draw The Lines PA

Clean Water Grows on Trees

Suffrage Centennial Patch

Trivia Corner 

Baking is a science and Girl scouts have plenty of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) badges to explore.  How many STEM badges does Girl Scouts offer? 

  1. 47 
  2. 20 
  3. 78 

In the 1980’s the most popular Junior Badge was: 

  1. Housekeeping 
  2. First Aid 
  3. Math Whiz 
  4. Art in the Round 

Which is NOT one of the four main categories badges are split into 

  1. STEM 
  2. Outdoors 
  3. Life Skills 
  4. Teaching 

What is one thing you can do to earn a gardening fun patch? 

  1. Research how to care for different plants.  
  2. Talk to a master gardener. 
  3. Plant your own garden.  
  4. All of the above.  

What is one thing I can do to earn a SWAPS fun patch? Let us know your answers in the comments! 


Post by Liz Bleacher

STEAM Snack: Let it Snow!

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!  

Today’s Topic: Engineering 

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 at this 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!  

The Badges: 

  • 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. 

The Activity! 

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.  

  1. Spread some peanut butter/Nutella on your graham cracker 
  2. Place your banana slices in place to build your snowman
  3. Add pretzel stick arms, and raisin eyes and buttons 
  4. Add the sprinkles wherever your heart desires

Post by Liz Bleacher

STEAM and Snacks (No experience required!)

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.

  1. 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.

STEAM is fun and encourages girls to be creative like with this cereal box turned organizer!

Cereal Box Invention

Materials Needed: cereal box, scissors, tape, glue, markers/crayons, string, anything you find at home you want to use to build.

Introduction:

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.

Wrap Up

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?

Badge Requirements

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

Post by Liz Bleacher

4 Civics Lessons Girls Scouts Should Know

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

Post by Liz Bleacher