New Year, New STEAM Activities

By Colleen Buck

Happy New Year Girl Scouts! With cold winter weather comes spending more time indoors. But time indoors doesn’t have to be boring! Try out these fun Winter Science Experiments to embrace the winter weather inside.

Create Fake Snow

You will need:

  • A deep baking dish or foil baking dish
  • 3 cups baking soda
  • ½ cup white conditioner

Instructions:

  1. Mix ½ cup conditioner with 3 cups baking soda
  2. Mix until well blended and moldable texture is achieved

Snowball Launchers

This project can be found on the Little Bins for Little Hands site, and is a great experiment in physics for girls of all ages. Girls will learn about Newton’s 3 laws of motion by creating force using the balloon, testing acceleration when different amounts of force are used, and finding that with our actions in this experiment there will be equal and opposite reaction.

Snow Volcano

You will need:

  • 2 spoonful’s of baking soda
  • 1 spoonful dish soap
  • A few drops of food coloring of your choice (red makes a good lava color)
  • 30 ml vinegar
  • Spoon
  • Snow
  • Small container

Instructions:

  1. Add everything except the vinegar to the container and stir well.
  2. Carefully shape a volcano around the container using snow – don’t forget to leave the opening of the volcano at the top!
  3. Add your vinegar through the opening and watch as the volcano erupts! For a larger eruption, add more dish soap, stir, then pour more vinegar.

How does this work?

Vinegar is an acid, and when mixed with baking soda (an alkali) they react together to neutralize each other. This reaction releases carbon dioxide, a gas, which is the bubbles that you see. The bubbles of gas make the dish soap bubble up to make a thick “lava”!

Reindeer Pipe Cleaner Circuit

Karyn at the Teach Beside Me blog shows readers how to create a reindeer circuit This electrical circuit project is perfect for the season, and teaches that an electrical circuit is made up of a source of electrical power, wires that can carry the current, and a light bulb. It is also a great way for girls to experiment with what happens when the circuit is intact versus broken.

Home Grown Crystals

You will need:

  • Borax, sugar or salt
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Wooden spoon
  • String
  • Tall glass or mason jar

Instructions:

  1. First use your pipe cleaners to make shapes. Simple shapes work best, such as hearts, spirals or circles. Tie your shape to a wooden spoon that is longer than the opening to the glass or jar you will use.
  2. Pick whether you will use borax, sugar or salt.
  3. Boil a couple cups of water (WITH ADULT SUPERVISION). Add your crystal substance (borax, salt or sugar) until it dissolves. Then add more….and more….and more! You will be making this a supersaturated solution, which means that you will keep adding your substance and letting it dissolve. You will know that you have added enough when a small bit remains at the bottom of the pot/jar that will not dissolve.
  4. Once your supersaturated solution is ready, pour it carefully into the glass or jar, leaving about an inch at the top. If you would like to add color you can add a few drops of food coloring.
  5. Add your wooden spoon to the top of the glass/jar with the pipe cleaner shapes hanging in the solution. Make sure the shape does not touch the bottom of the container.
  6. Borax will make the crystals grow quickly, sugar takes about a week to fully form, and salt will take a few days.

This project is a great way to develop an experiment to see how the different substances react and what other variables such as sunlight or fans blowing air might do to the crystal growing process!

Don’t forget to document your experiments with pictures and send them in to us as a Mission Moment!

Colleen is a Program Coordinator for GSHPA

STEAM Saturday Robotics

At the beginning of December the GSHPA Program Team ran our STEAM Saturday Robotics program, and we had so much fun! Girls from across council joined us at Camp Small Valley and we got to not only learn about robots, but also design our own robots! Daisy through Junior Girl Scouts got to learn about coding with Botley the Robot, while older Girl Scouts had the chance to build and code their QScout Robots. If you missed our December STEAM Saturday Robotics, we would love to see you in February at Camp Happy Valley or Camp Archbald. We will have a morning and an afternoon session each day, and everyone is welcome to reserve time on property overnight or spend the day at camp!

Women in STEAM: Dr. Joe Hill-Kittle, NASA

By Liz Bleacher

Today we are talking with Dr. Joanne (Joe) Hill-Kittle, Deputy Director Engineering and Technology Directorate at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. Joe and I have been communicating back and forth for a while now for GSHPA events, she has joined us to talk engineering and space a few times and we thought it would be fun to get a little more in-depth about what inspired her to get into STEM.

GSHPA: First and most important questions, when did you first become interested in STEM? Bonus points if you were in Girl Scouts. Was there a moment where you knew you were going to go into STEM?

Dr. Joe: I have a clear memory of sitting on the gate to the farmers field across from my house with my best friend at the age of 7 stating I wanted to be the first woman on the moon. I remember being worried that by the time I was old enough lots of people would be at the moon. Now I hope to play a part (however small) of putting the first women and first person of colour on the moon. I knew this dream would mean I would have to study hard in STEM. I was a Brownie and a Girl Guide (kind of a UK equivalents to Girl Scouts) for many years and learnt a lot about leadership and perseverance which helped me on my path.

GSHPA: With your early start with STEM and dreams of the moon, what is your favorite memory of STEM at school?

Dr. Joe: It’s hard to say as I loved all the classes that were STEM. I was good at Maths, so I always enjoyed those classes and projects. In one class we were devising an experiment to measure the acceleration of a rocket and then launching the rocket to test it which was really cool.

Dr. Joe studying early on in her STEM life.

GSHPA: What is your current career and how do you use your interests on a day-to-day basis?

Dr. Joe: I trained on the edge of Physics and Engineering, building and designing instruments for new missions. This got me started in the Science area and just recently I move to help lead the Engineering organization. My job now is to help decide what technologies are needed to answer science questions of the future, like are we alone and to help understand our own planet. All of this is fascinating, looking for answers to questions.

Dr. Joe Hill-Kittle at the launch site (Cape Canaveral) for the Magnetic Multiscale Mission (MMS)

GSHPA: Working with rockets, and new technology is pretty exciting for us to hear about. What gets you excited about what you do?

Dr. Joe: Who doesn’t like launching rockets, trying to save the planet and learning about the whole universe? I love all of it. We get to design missions that will help us understand climate change and provide early disaster warnings for fires and hurricanes, missions that will help us understand the very beginnings of the universe and search for other Earth’s outside of our Solar System, build instruments that will look for life on planets in our solar system and help us understand our Sun.

GSHPA: What is your favorite thing about your current job and what do you find the most challenging?

Dr. Joe: My favourite thing is thinking about what we can do in the future and how we get there. The biggest challenge is bringing change to a big organization. It can be very slow and frustrating but if you have a team around you to rally each other on, it can also be very rewarding when you start to see the results of your efforts.

Dr. Joe standing in front of the James Webb Space Telescope at Goddard, which will launch in December of this year.

GSHPA: Girls are facing challenges and successes every day in their STEM journeys. What advice would you give to girls interested in a career in STEM?

Dr. Joe: Study hard, look for opportunities like internships to get some experience so you can figure out what you like and don’t like and what interests you.

GSHPA: What can we do to have more girls/women in science like you?

Dr. Joe: Dream big! Encourage each other. Believe in yourselves. I was fortunate to have mentors encouraging me along the way. Look for opportunities and encourage girls and women to apply.

GSHPA: For girls who are now starting in STEM, what skills will help them in their journeys?

Dr. Joe: There are so many opportunities for everyone at NASA, from turning wrenches, writing software to model the Earth, building instruments. One of the common skills that is important, and you will get from Girl Scouts is team leadership and building teams. Understanding how to listen to everyone’s inputs before making a decision. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room but you do have to be smart enough and open enough to listen and value everyone’s ideas to get the best solutions

GSHPA: How does your work at NASA and in the community, help encourage more diversity in STEM fields?

Dr. Joe: I hope by sharing my story people will see their own opportunity. I also spend time advocating for diverse applicant pools for opportunities and look for leadership opportunities for minorities to get the experience needed to move into more senior positions.

GSHPA: Would you say that the environment has changed since you started in STEM? What would be different for girls now?

Dr. Joe: There are already more women in STEM than when I started and that’s great. There is also recognition that barriers do exist, and we need to break them down. We are not done yet but at least there is awareness of the challenges so we can start to address them.

GSHPA: What message do you have for girls and women in STEM?

Dr. Joe: Don’t hold back, you can do more than you think!

GSHPA: Thank you Dr. Joe we look forward to watching the launch of the the James Webb Space Telescope this December and thinking about all the things we steps we can take to do fun and exciting things in the STEM world.

GSHPA Spy School

This month Girls Scouts at GSHPA took the opportunity to meet at some of our beautiful properties to attend Spy School! Well not real spy school, rather one of our STEAM Mobile programs during the STEAM Saturday event. This month the girls strengthened their observation skills, learning about finger prints, handwriting, and cyphers. They ended the day working as a team to solve the clues and “break out”.

We have more programs coming, in December we will be focused on Robots at Camp Small Valley, in January we are Wild About Animals at Camp Furnace Hills and Camp Small Valley. Please visit our website to learn more and register.

Photos: STEAM with the Program Team

Every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. girls from around the country gather to experience STEAM adventures with GSHPA’s program team. Thanks to technology and the ability to meet virtually Girl Scouts and friends are able come together to learn about each other and with each other as they discover the world around them.

Here are some images from the past year, and please take a look at our upcoming schedule to find a program that works for you.

Graham Cracker Engineering

Making Bread in a Bag

Making Ice Cream in a Bag

Designing Cranes and Jewels

STEAM SNACK: Abstract Self

Abstract art can come naturally to those girls who love experimentation and creative expression.  As adults we spend so much time telling kids to color in the lines and use the right colors, abstract art allows girls to jump at the change to express themselves any way they want. 

Why Abstract Art?

Abstract art is more about the shapes and colors and the feelings it expresses, not about staying in the lines.  Abstract art encourages discussion about color, shares, lines, feelings and thoughts, all concepts children are learning.  This is something everyone can do.

What if I’m not an expert?

Start by explaining what abstract art is NOT, so examples of realistic or naturalist art.  These pieces look like replicas of what the subjects are, the subject is easily recognized in the art.  Examples can be paintings of fruit, a house or other objects the girls can identify. 

Now show the girls several abstract works of art, one at a time, ask the girls if they can identify what the subject of the art is.  This will take longer to get responses do to the obscurity of the art.  Ask the girls what colors and shapes do they see? Ask them what emotions they feel while looking at each art piece and what they are thinking about when they look at it.

How do I get started?

Materials you need:

  • White paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Black marker/crayon
  • Coloring Materials

Tips and Tricks:

  • Prepare your self-portrait ahead of time add color and make it crazy.
  • Don’t show them examples of your self-portrait until after they draw theirs.  Children tend to make their work look just like the examples they see, we want them to let go of the control.

Here are some discussion questions to get the girls thinking:

  • What are some colors that represent feelings?
  • How about shapes, what shape can represent happiness, sadness?
    • There is not right answer and will differ from girl to girl, abstract is all about what you want things to represent.

The Badges:

This activity can be adapted to fulfill the following badge steps.

  • Daisy:
  • Brownie: Painting Step 3 – Paint a mood
  • Junior:  Drawing Step 1 – Experiment with different materials
  • Cadette:
  • Senior: Collage Artist Step 3 – Create with color
  • Ambassador:

The Science             

Define abstract art in terms the girls will understand based on their levels.  Simply, abstraction in art is a non-lifelike portrayal of real world objects, people and scenes that are usually hard for other peope to recognize.  Abstract art portrays what an artist feels and thinks, rather that what they see.  An abstract artist will use colors and shapes to express their emotions and ideas. 

We don’t always know what people are thinking and feeling and we don’t always know what abstract art portrays. You could always ask the artist, it is about the conversation.

The Activity

Abstract Self-Portrait

Materials: Paper, ruler, pencil, black marker/crayon, coloring materials

STEP ONE: Make diagonal folds on your paper, you do not want even folds that create squares.  You want it random, make about 5-6 folds, then use a ruler or strait edge to trace the folds with your black marker or crayon.

STEP TWO: Explain to the girls that they are going to fill the page with their self-portrait, use the whole canvas.  Oh and they are going to be doing this with their eyes closed!  Tell them not to worry you will be giving them directions on what to draw and it is abstract art so it is ok if it doesn’t look just like them.

STEP THREE: Grab your canvas, your pencil and close your eyes. Remind the girls though out the process to keep their eyes closed, they will want to peek.

STEP FOUR:

  • Start with a nice large oval for your face, remember fill your canvas, no small faces in the middle.
  • Now add your hair, and a neck you don’t want to be a floating head.  Now add your eyes, lashes and brows.  Remember eyes closed!
  • Now we don’t want to forget your ears, make sure to add one to each side. 
  • How about your mouth, are you going to be smiling? Showing teeth?
  • And don’t forget your nose! 
  • Now add any accessories you want, jewelry, glasses, hair bows, etc.

STEP FIVE: Have the girls open their eyes, ask if their art looks like them.  When they answer no, let them know that is good, it isn’t meant to, this is abstract art.

STEP SIX: Trace the lines of your face with the black marker/crayon.  Your face will be split into many shapes from the fold lines creating all new shapes.

STEP SEVEN: Use your coloring materials to finish your portrait.  Think about what colors you will use and how.  Complementary colors, contrasting colors, all one color but different shades, only a few colors or all the colors in the box.  Think about how the colors make you feel and how they will make others feel when they see your portrait.

Wrap up:

After completing the self-portraits, ask the girls:

  • How did you feel about drawing with your eyes closed?
  • What do you like about abstract art?
  • What don’t you like about abstract art?

An Abstract Snack: Animal Portraits

Materials Needed: toast, peanut butter, hazelnut spread, cream cheese, banana, strawberries, apples, berries, any topping you want to create with.

Prepare your toast to your liking. Prep your fruit by slicing to create different shapes and sizes to create your art.
Add the soft layer, peanut butter/hazelnut spread/cream cheese.
Add your fruit toppings to create your animal portraits or other art.
Remember this is abstract art, your final piece does not need to look like anything in the real world.

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!

STEAM Snack: Exploring the Science of Sound

I am going to apologize right now for this one, I am very sorry for the noise, it will likely drive you nuts but, it is totally worth it, I promise!  If there is one thing all kids like to do it is to make noise, it could be banging pots and pans, tapping their feet, whistling, or talking continually.  This activity plays right into that love of noise, and by saying that we have just made it a science experiment to demonstrate how sound works.  See there was a point to the noise.  

Why Music?  

Music helps kids in all areas of development and skills, intellectual, social/emotional, motor, language, and literacy.  Music helps our brains and bodies work together, it can help us relax and focus.  Music for children can help them learn sounds and meanings of words.  

What if I’m not an expert? 

During this activity the girls will learn that when things vibrate, they make sound, vibrations are what let us hear each other speak, and if you are interested in the additional demo below, they will be able to see that sound can also make things vibrate.  

Some Vocabulary 

  • Vibrating: moving back and forth really fast 
  • Sound wave: a vibration that travels through the air.  
  • Sound: a noise we can hear 
  • Hearing: Using our ears to listen to sound  
  • Eardrum: Part of the inside of your ear that allows you to hear vibrations.  

Here is some science you can share with your girls.  

A common misconception is that sound is made directly by our mouths, actually sound is the movement of air in the form of sound waves. These waves are produced by our vibrating vocal cords, or the vibration of a musical instrument.  This can be a tough concept for younger girls, so giving them the chance to “see” sound is helpful.  

Sound is the result of vibrations; all instrument sounds are the result of vibrations and make different sounds based on the speed of the vibrations and the material being vibrated.  

Sound can also cause vibrations; this is because the waves made by the sound can be strong enough to move other objects.

Additional activity to demonstrate this.  https://www.generationgenius.com/activities/introduction-to-sound-activity-for-kids/ 

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

  • Close your eyes for a minute. What are some things that you can hear? 
  • How are you able to hear things? 
  • What are some examples of things that vibrate?  
  • What kinds of musical instruments have you heard before? 
  • Are you able to make sounds?  

How do I get started? 

Materials you need: 

  • Craft sticks – both thick and thin, you can experiment 
  • Rubber bands – ideally the thinker ones, they work better 
  • More rubber bands – smaller, think the small hair bands you use with toddlers that just hide around the house.  
  • Scissors 
  • Paper 
  • Toothpicks 
  • Straws 

We are sharing two ways to build your harmonica one is easier for younger children, try them out, you know your girls and what they will be able to handle.  If you feel that you will need some help guiding the younger girls through the steps, don’t be afraid to ask additional adults to stick around to help.  

The science behind the harmonica 

When you blow into the harmonica you are causing the paper or elastic to vibrate.  These vibrations need a medium like air in order to travel and produce the sound that reaches their eardrums.  The frequency of this vibration is called Hertz.  The quicker it vibrates, the higher the pitch will be.  If you squeeze the two sides of the harmonica together it will change the pitch of the noise produced.  

A few warnings about these harmonicas, be careful with splinters, they are not like traditional harmonica where you can run your mouth along it.  Also be careful if you are using colored craft sticks, the color tends to run once they get wet, more likely to happen with smaller kids.  The best way to play them is by pulling our lips over your teeth and placing the harmonica on the skin just under your lips (which should be over your teeth if you pull you lips in). Clear as mud? Great let’s get started.  

The Badges:

  • Daisy:
  • Brownie:
  • Junior: Musician Step 4
  • Cadette:
  • Senior:
  • Ambassador:

Older Girl Variation:  

When you are working with older girls ask them to experiment with what would happen if they changed the width of the paper or elastic band? Higher or lower pitch? What should happen is the thinner paper the higher the pitch. What would happen if they made a paper that was thinner on one end and became thicker as you moved to the opposite end?  They should be able to make different pitches while using the same harmonica.  

The Activity!  

Technique one – better suited to smaller children. 

  • Take one of your craft sticks and put an elastic band around it (length ways) 
  • Cut the straw into 2 pieces so that they are the width of the craft stick.  If you don’t have straws folded paper will work as well.
  • Put the straws under the elastic band, one at either end. 
  • Put the other craft stick on top and use the loom bands to keep everything in place by wrapping them around each end. 

Technique two – older kids 

  • Cut out a piece of paper so that it is the same length and width as your craft stick. 
  • Place the paper onto one of the craft sticks. 
  • Place the other craft stick on top and wrap one loom band around an end. 
  • Cut your toothpick to the width of the craft stick. 
  • Put your cut toothpick between one of the craft sticks and the piece of paper, run it down until it is next to the loom band and then push it in so that none of it is sticking out. 
  • Put the other toothpick in the same position at the other end and then finally wrap the final loom band around the other end. 

Wrap up:  

How can changing the colors change your pattern? How did you work through your challenges working with the template?  

A musically inspired snack  

Collect a variety of snacks that the girls can make into musical symbols. Then the girls can create their own musical creations, and even try to play them on their harmonica before eating.  

Food examples: pretzel sticks, raisins, cucumbers slices, chocolate chips, nuts, ect.

Make sure to post photos of your STEAM Snack or musical tunes in the comments, we can’t wait to see them!


Post by Liz Bleacher

Let’s Get Outside – Girl Scout Style!

7 Awesome Outdoor Activities

As we enter the fifth month of the year, and have learned over the past year how important outdoor experiences are, we have 7 self-led ideas for you and your Girl Scout to get outdoors!  Below are some links/activities to explore a variety of fun related to the outdoors.  Be sure to read all the way to the end for an edible campfire!   

  1. Earn the “Clean Water Grows on Trees” fun patchvia our partners Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Keystone 10 Million Tree Partnership. Trees provide habitat and improve the air we breathe. But did you know that clean water grows on trees? Earn this fun patch by learning about the trees in your neighborhood and then taking action to protect them. 
Lauren Braught, GSHPA Gold Award Girl Scout holding “Clean Water Grows on Trees” fun patch
  1. Soundscape Scavenger Hunt- A soundscape is the acoustic environment as perceived by humans. In this activity, you will explore your backyard for a variety of sounds! This activity satisfies parts of both Daisy: Outdoor Art Maker – Step 2 and Brownie: Senses – Step 2 
  1. Bug Bingo– Discover the wonder and joys of nature through bugs! This activity satisfies step 3 of the Brownie: Bugs Badge.   
     
  1. Learn more about Knots with this Girl Scouts USA blog post:  10 Essential Knots for Girl Scouts  
  1. Backpacking Skills Videos - Learn the basics of backpacking and then learn more about GSHPA’s backpacking programhere
  1. Virtual Constellation Discovery Series - Learn about the stars, constellations, and the stories written in the night sky with Sarah, our Outdoor Program Manager, through a series of fun videos. 
  1. Activity: Edible Campfires 
    (This activity is courtesy of Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington council) 

Learn about fire building and safety by making edible fires! 

Supplies 

  • A plate (to build your edible fire on) 
  • A small cup of water (to represent your fire bucket) 
  • A spoon or fork (to represent your shovel/rake) 
  • Small roundish snacks (to represent your fire ring) 
  • M&M’s, cheerios, and mini marshmallows 
  • Any sort of small, slim snacks (to represent tinder) 
  • Thin, twig-like snacks (to represent kindling) 
  • Pretzel sticks and veggie straws 
  • Thicker, branch-like snacks (to represent fuel) 
  • Jumbo pretzel sticks or tootsie rolls 

Directions  

  • When we make a campfire, we need a clear area free of dried grass and sticks and we should be using an established fire pit. Begin making your fire by making sure you have your plate clean and ready!  
  • Create a fire ring on your plate with your “rocks.” 
  • Do we have the right safety equipment on hand? Ensure that your fire “bucket” is filled with water and that you have your “shovel” nearby. Pull back your hair and make sure you’re not wearing anything that could hang into the fire. 
  • The next step is to collect your tinder, kindling, and fuel. 
  • Tinder is your smallest piece of wood, about the size of your pinky finger. This wood catches quickly and its main purpose is to get your initial flame. 
  • What edible items could these be?  
  • Kindling is the next piece, about the size of 1-2 fingers. This type of wood is the second stage, it burns longer than tinder and can get that necessary initial fire started. Once you get enough kindling burning, it should begin to generate enough heat and flame to get your big pieces lit. 
  • What edible items could these be?  
  • Fuel is the biggest log, the ones that keep your fire burning all night. Some styles of fire have it in their initial formation, while others have to begin to add it as your fire builds up enough heat to catch them. 
  • What edible items could these be?  
  • When building your fire, consider what you want to use it for.  
  • To cook food, to keep you warm in harsh weather, or simply to provide a space to gather around and sing songs and tell stories.  
  • There are hundreds of styles of campfires, here are some easy examples to start. 

Once you’ve fully enjoyed your fire, the most important thing to do is ensure that it is completely put out. Eat your snack, or pack it away into a plastic baggie to enjoy later! 


Post by Lutricia Eberly