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.
Growing up is hard, but growing up during a global pandemic, political unrest, climate change, and a 24-hour news cycle is unprecedented! As an adult I can often feel overwhelmed by it all, so I can only imagine what our young people might be feeling. With all that is happening around us, along with the regular challenges of life, young people are bound to have questions!
As troop leaders, volunteers, parents, and caregivers we have an important role in the lives of our Girl Scouts. Given all our girls are facing it is inevitable for tough conversation topics to come up. In order to build girls of courage, confidence and character we need to provide them with safe spaces to process what is happening around them.
It can be frightening when a tough subject comes up, but keep in mind that some of the hardest things to talk about are often the most important! So here are 5 tips to help you prepare to tackle tough topics and conversations:
Keep the conversation GIRL LED.
In Girl Scouts, we know that girls are most interested and passionate about the topics THEY pick, including tough or sensitive topics. While it might be tempting to quickly change the subject when a tough topic comes up, avoiding hard things doesn’t help anyone. If a Girl Scout brings up a hard topic it is a sign, she trusts you or feels safe and hushing the topic could result in feelings of shame and confusion.
Instead of changing the subject, if able, give her your full attention. If the topic was brought up at a challenging time, acknowledge that and make a plan for the discussion at a time when you can give your full attention. Do not make assumptions about the girl’s feelings or understanding on a topic, have them share what they know in their own words. Practice active listening and validate what they are sharing. If a girl has disclosed a sensitive personal story, do not ask detail-oriented questions but instead reflect or repeat back what she is saying and feeling to make sure you understand. Using statements like “it sounds like you are feeling” or “I hear you saying” can be helpful in clarifying and validating feelings and statements.
Keep conversation judgment free and strength based.
Talking about sensitive or tough topics can be a vulnerable experience so it is important create a safe space. If planning ahead for a tough topic, have the girls establish ground rules for the conversation or space (no judgement, name-calling, interrupting, etc.). When the girls are sharing and expressing their thoughts avoid sharing your judgements or speculations. If something hard is shared, remain calm and don’t add to the stress with your reaction. An intense reaction can make something feel scarier and harder, try to meet the girl where she’s at emotionally.
Practice and role model empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings. While practicing empathy we are not trying to fix, rescue, or solve a problem, we are instead providing support by connecting through shared feelings. Empathy helps us consider the other person’s point of view. If there are disagreements between your girls, ask them to consider what the other person is feeling. When discussing tough news stories, talk about what those impacted may be feeling. One of the ultimate benefits of empathy is the ability to consider the other person’s perspective when solving conflicts or figuring out compromise.
While affirming hard feelings or concerns, it is also important to help girls find hope and see their strengths. Recognize how brave it is to share feelings and talk about difficult topics. Empower by acknowledging their strength and ability to make positive change. Tough conversations can be a time to discuss what courage, confidence, and character mean to them in relation to what is going on in their community and world.
Breathe. You don’t have to be the expert!
As the adult you may feel pressure to know the answers or have solutions. Try not to be distracted by this pressure or trying to say exactly the “right” thing. Many times, just having a supportive listening ear can be what’s needed most.
When discussing a hard topic only share what you know is true. If you aren’t sure, be honest and suggest you find the answers together. Make space for sharing knowledge and experiences but never single out a girl to answer a question or speak for her racial, ethnic, or religious group. Empower the girls to find their own answers with developmentally appropriate resources on related topics. Books on the topics of race, diversity, discrimination, grief, and important related issues can be helpful resources.
Safety is always first!
When working with or around young people, safety is always a consideration. As adults it is our responsibility to keep the young people around us safe. If a girl discloses any form of abuse it needs to be reported to child protective services. As the adult who she disclosed to it is not your job to investigate, or find out more information, but simply provide support and report to child protective services. You do not have to be sure or have proof of abuse, if there is any suspicion it is better to be safe and report. It can feel scary to make a report but it may result in the girl and family connecting to services they need. If you are unsure if a report should be made you can call the Childline hotline and discuss concerns.
The toll-free hotline, 1-800-932-0313, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to receive reports of suspected child abuse. Mandated reporters can report electronically.
That was tough. Take care of yourself!
Tough conversations can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. Remember to take some time to practice good self-care! If able, at the end of the conversation take time to debrief and process feelings that may have come up. Make a self-care plan for the remainder of the day. Respect the privacy of information disclosed but if you are feeling heavy after the conversation reach out for support. Taking deep breaths, a walk, or time for creative processing can all be helpful ways to release some feelings and care for yourself.
Check out additional resources for common tough topics:
Now, more than ever, the comfort and familiarity of biting into a delicious Girl Scout Cookie is needed. Our Girl Scouts are ready to build their business, reach their goals, and meet the cookie demand!
Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania will begin selling cookies on January 15th. Girls will have their order cards until February 12th to take orders AND will be creating their cookie website so customers can order online. Customers can even order online and skip the shipping fee by choosing in-person girl delivery until February 12th. (Those cookies will arrive in March)
Cookies will arrive in mid-March. Girls will fulfill their orders and then can go out into the world, safely of course, to continue reaching their goals! Contactless payment and delivery is an option all season long!
The cookie season ends on April 11th. Customers should make sure to stock up! Girl Scout Cookies are great in various recipes (find some here) and they freeze well!
Here is GSHPA’s Cookie Line Up for 2021:
Ready to buy some cookies?! Beginning Friday, January 15th, you can go to our website and found out where to get cookies in your area!
Hello! Welcome back to our monthly post that will focus on STEAM activities and snacks you can do at home with your family or with your troops!
January can seem like a time when there’s not much going on – the holidays have passed, decorations are being put away, and it feels like it gets colder each day. January is also the perfect time to incorporate fun and creative STEAM projects for your family and Girl Scouts to overcome those “January doldrums.” This food science activity combines BOTH the STEAM and a snack! There are so many more STEAM projects out there and if you have a favorite or a new topic you’d like to see please let us know in the comments.
Why food science?
Food science is simply the study of food! Food Scientists use various scientific and engineering methods to explore the food we eat every day. They take a closer look at the physical (what we can see), microbial (what we can’t see), and chemical makeup (how different ingredients interact) of food. Food Scientists apply their findings to develop safe, nutritious, and sustainable foods. They also create innovative packaging that are used in stores and supermarkets. A Food Scientist’s job contributes to ensuring that our food supply is:
Easy to prepare
Food Scientists use creative thinking to solve problems and come up with brand new food products and packaging. So this is a great opportunity to enable girls to think outside-of-the-box and expand their creativity to help make the world a better place. A great way to guide your girls’ thinking is through the stages of creative thinking:
Preparation: The very first step of the creativity process; it refers to the curiosity of an individual to explore a problem. At this stage, you identify the problem and collect all the information you need in order to properly formulate it and start thinking about possible solutions. This is when you have to set your goals, conduct research, map your thoughts and brainstorm.
Incubation: During this stage, you might stop thinking directly about your problem as you begin to combine your thoughts putting your imagination in action. You don’t have to find a solution now, but this is the beginning of its construction.
Illumination: This is when your ideas come together becoming one piece in a logical manner. It is what is known as the “aha” or “eureka” experience.
Evaluation: At this stage, you need to evaluate the solution that came as an epiphany into your mind. Ask for feedback and make any adjustments needed in order for your solution to be valid and finally approved.
Implementation: The final step of the creative thinking process is to transform your solution into a final product. Implement your ideas and make changes until you are pleased with the result.
We are not all food scientists, and it’s okay to feel like we don’t know enough to lead the girls in a food experiment. But remember you do! Think back to the time when you were young and were told not to play with your food – for food scientists, using food for something other than a meal or snack is actually their job – so embrace what comes along with this activity and refer back to the 5 stages of creative thinking.
If you are feeling you want more expert knowledge reach out to your troop parents, friends, relatives or other GSHPA troop leaders on the GSHPA Facebook page to see if there is a food scientist or someone who works in the food industry that you can invite to come talk to your girls.
How do I get started?
Take some time to look over the 5 stages of creative thinking. These stages are not only helpful for this activity, but can be applied to almost all activities and situations in life and Girl Scouting.
Take a look at the following links to read about cooking experiments and the different branches of food science. If your girls are interested in learning more about food science, have them do research on different colleges, universities, and companies that offer or utilize food scientists.
Our activity is a great start to partially completing Step 2: Discover the Possibilities in the Brownie, Junior, and Cadette STEM Career Exploration Badges. This badge explores 6 different fields of STEM careers and food science is listed under the Food & Agriculture field:
Creative technology & design
Food & agriculture – a field that focuses on growing, cooking, and consuming food. It includes careers such as a baker, farmer, food scientist, chef, agricultural engineer, urban farmer, and agricultural scientist.
Health & wellness
Nature & environment
Materials: at least 2-3 kinds of cookies (use your favorites, granola bars work great too), frosting (as many flavors as you like, or you can use Nutella, jams, etc.), sprinkles, plates, cups, spoons, butter knives, paper towels/towels, multiple pieces of paper, pencil, things to color with. *(Cookies and frosting can be swapped out for healthier choices, use whatever snack foods you like!)
Set up a separate table or section of table where you are working with all the food supplies: cookies, frostings, sprinkles, etc. This is where girls will go when they need more supplies. Use plates for the cookies and small cups or bowls for the frosting and sprinkles.
For this activity, the girls will act as food scientists to come up with a brand new cookie! Girls will use existing cookies and materials to create several cookie samples, document their cookie creation steps, design cookie packaging, and then share their ideas. Throughout this activity, break the steps into each of the 5 steps of creative thinking. Remember – creativity is a process that results in generating new ideas OR transforming old ideas into new ones. You will help the girls create new cookies OR transform ones into a brand new idea.
Introduction to the Girls: Start the activity by talking to the girls about what a food scientist is and introduce the 5 stages of creative thinking process. Refer to the list of questions & talking points:
Have you ever heard of food science/food scientists?
Raise your hand if you like to cook or bake – some of you are closer to food science than you think!
Have you ever wondered how different foods or snacks at the grocery store are created? They are designed and developed by food scientists! They think of new and innovative ways to create food for us to eat every day.
Ask about favorite snack foods and things they’ve seen at the grocery store.
Step 1: Preparation
Explain to the girls that they are acting as food scientists that have been tasked with creating a new cookie. They’ve been given certain samples and need to create a new combination.
Pass out paper and pencil. Have the girls fold their paper so it creates three different sections. This is where they will write down their notes for the three different kinds of cookies they will create. Girls should include the following info for each cookie:
Name, ingredients/samples used, and a brief description of what the cookie is like/tastes like.
Step 2: Incubation
This is where girls are able to gather supplies to create their THREE cookie samples.
Encourage them to try and make three different types of cookies if possible.
Let girls’ creativity and imagination run wild in this step. Remind them that we are scientists, so we must write down our ideas and steps we take in designing each cookie so we can refer back to them later.
Step 3: Illumination
During this time, girls should have all three cookies made.
Once they have their three samples, they will choose ONE cookie to move forward with.
This step is important, as food scientists create many different samples but only ONE ends up getting chosen.
Have them review the notes they took about each cookie.
Who would like this cookie/who is the best consumer?
Is this cookie easy to eat or really messy?
Remind younger girls that even though they have to pick just one cookie, the time they took to create all three is so important! Without creating and testing their cookies, they wouldn’t know which would be the better of the three they created.
Step 4: Evaluation
Have the girls share their cookie ideas with each other and get feedback.
Feedback is great because it can help the girls improve their cookie designs and make them even better.
Step 5: Implementation
The final step is to transform their solution into a final product – implement the changes they received from the feedback.
Once their cookie creation is complete, girls will complete the last step – use their imagination to create what their cookie packaging will look like!
Girls will use paper, pencil, and things to color with.
To help them think of ideas, grab any boxes or packages of food in your kitchen and have the girls take a look:
Colors, shape, size, where the name of the cookie is, etc.
If you have extra boxes, tape the girls’ pictures onto a box to bring it to life!
When they are ready to begin, have them draw what their cookie box/packaging looks like.
For older girls, take it one step further and ask about packaging materials (plastic, paper, etc.), are the materials sustainable or environmentally friendly, how many cookies are in each package, etc.
Present their products
Make sure to leave 10-15 minutes, depending on how talkative your group is, to review with them.
Once the girls have finished creating their packaging, have each of them share their cookies! Have them share as much information about their new creation as they want. To help guide you, ask girls these questions:
What is the name of your cookie?
How did you decide on the flavor?
How did you decide on your cookie packaging/box?
What’s your favorite thing about your cookie?
Who do you think would buy your cookie if it was sold in stores?
Has this activity inspired you to learn more about food?
Congratulations, you did it! You deserve a snack – eat your cookie creations! Remember those cookies that didn’t get chosen? Time to snack on those! If you have extra cookie creation supplies, design another snack to enjoy!
Do you have a resolution? Looking for one? Either way, reading more is always a good idea! We asked our friend and author, Laurie Morrison for a list of book recommendations. Perhaps you remember Laurie from the Author Career Chat!
Whether you’re looking to laugh, cry, escape, or feel empowered, this list has something for every reader in 5th-8th grade!
Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe
The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert
A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan
Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison
Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone
Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim
Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte and Ann Xu
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Up for Air by Laurie Morrison
Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
For younger readers, try these!
The Derby Daredevils Series(Kenzie Kickstarts a Team and Shelly Struggles to Shine) by Kit Rosewater, illustrated by Sophie Escabasse
The Jasmine Toguchi books by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Elizabet Vucovik
The Vanderbeekers books by Karina Yan Glaser
The Yasmin books by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly
High school readers might enjoy these!
Raybearerby Jordan Ifueko
The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Unscripted by Nicole Kronzer
Check out some of these titles and let us know what you think after you’ve read them!
Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA would like to wish you a very Happy New Year! It is officially that time of year, where we all make resolutions and set goals for the upcoming year. It can also be a reminder of the resolutions that didn’t stick or how our goals may have shifted throughout the past year. Regardless how you feel about setting New Year’s resolutions it is important to note that as Girl Scouts, setting and accomplishing goals can be done any time of year, not just in January!
To start off 2021 we wanted to share some tips and tricks to help you explore and accomplish goals with your Girl Scout troop!
Determine the goals that drive your troop! A large part of what makes Girl Scouting great is that we keep everything GIRL LED! So, whether you are talking about goals for your troop or an individual Girl Scout it is important that girls are involved and interested! It can be difficult to accomplish a goal that you are not personally invested in, right? So be sure to talk with your girls about what they hope to accomplish!
Try getting your girls thinking with a fun and goal oriented ice-breaker such as wishing stars! In this activity the stars will be things that each girl does well, maybe selling cookies or STEM activities. They should each come up with 3 stars! Now that they have their stars, it is time to make a wish! The wishes should be thing the girls would like to work on throughout the year. If you want to add to the fun you can make this a drawing or guessing game with the girls as well! Once each star and wish has been discussed, talk with the girls about HOW they accomplished their stars and WHAT can be done to make their wish (goal) come true!
Another way to gauge the girls’ interest in goals is by setting aside some time to rank their ideas. Start by creating a list of goals (potential accomplishments, activities, etc.) then have the girls choose their top 3-5 they want to work on this year! It can also be a great way to find common interests amongst the girls which can be helpful in goal setting and in choosing journeys, badges, Service and Take Action projects!
Be SMART with your goals!A well-known method for goal setting is using the SMART goal formula. It can be used with long- and short-term goals and is a great way to build goal accomplishing skills! Set yourself up for success by following the SMART method and asking yourself these questions:
S: Specific– can you clearly define or identify the goal?
M: Measurable– How will you know when you accomplished your goal? What are the measurable terms of your goal?
A: Attainable– Is this a realistic goal? Do you have access to the needed resources to accomplish the goal? Are your expectations realistic?
R: Relevant– Does this goal make sense for you? Is it something that is important to you?
T: Time-bound– When will you achieve this goal by? What time frame do you have for accomplishing this goal?
Map your goals out!Big goals can feel like a long daunting journey, but they don’t have to be. A new goal can be an exciting adventure full of learning experiences and endless opportunities. Get creative and explore goal setting with your Girl Scout(s) by creating a goal map!
A goal map should start with an easy prompt for individual girls or troops as a whole. All you will need is paper and writing tools. Start by drawing a winding road across the paper, ending at the goal you have in mind! Would reaching your goal be a long or short trip? What will you need to get to your destination? What stops are needed along the way? Can you think of any roadblocks that might interfere with your route? Use the map to brainstorm and plan how you will reach your goal and what you can do to stay on track!
Plan the steps needed to accomplish your goal! Another creative way to plan out what is needed to reach goals is by designing a goal ladder! Start by having your Girl Scout(s) write their goal in a star and below that, a ladder with 3-5 steps. Identify what steps are needed to climb the ladder and reach the goal.
For example, if you want to sell 500 Girl Scout cookies, maybe the steps would be: 1) (first step at the bottom) make a list of 30 people that may buy cookies; 2) Make a list of 5 places to host cookie booths, 3) Get approval for cookie booths 4) plan and schedule time for making sales and cookie booths; 5) Design a poster/flyer promoting cookie sales.
Vision boards! Get creative and visualize your accomplishments by making a vision board, which can be a fun activity for all ages! You can create a vision board for the upcoming year in general or a specific goal. Vision boards can be done as an individual or a group! If you are creating virtually you can have the girls design a vision board on google slides or PowerPoint. It is important to give the girls creative freedom when creating. Vision board materials can include cutouts from magazines, pictures, quotes printed out, clip-art, paint, and whatever else represents your ideas. Once the vision board is finished hang it somewhere that you will see often.
As the year draws to a close, we are greeted with many things, such as holidays, snow, relaxation and much more! We are also greeted with the promise of brand-new year, a fresh start and a time to prepare for the upcoming year.
While it can be easy to create a list of all the things we hope to change and do different, but we want to encourage you to take it a step further. It can be very hard to stick to our New Year’s Resolutions throughout the year. So, I think it is important to try by reflecting on the previous year first! When I start considering the things I want to change I first think about the past year and create a list of all the things I have learned. Traditionally, I will title my lists something like: “20 Things I Learned in 2020” because having a concrete number can be helpful to get your mind going! One thing to keep in mind is that not everything on your list needs to be serious, they can be fun too! An example from my list includes: “never underestimate the power of an adorable lunchbox”. Once you have reflected on the past year and created your list it makes setting goals easier and more meaningful.
Once you have a few goals in mind it is important to look at them critically. Ask yourself: is this a realistic long-term goal I can stick to throughout the year? It is important to set attainable goals that can be accomplished over time rather than a long list of goals to start at the beginning of the New Year. If they are not, it is harder to stick to them and you may lose steam after the first few weeks into January.
So, what are your goals? Are you interested in learning a new skill, reading more books, or getting active? Whatever it may be we wanted to share a list of tips & tricks to help you set your goals moving into the New Year! All of these can be applied to goals you may have professionally, personally or with your Girl Scout Troops!
As we mentioned, start by thinking about all the things you learned over the past year and how that can help you in the New Year!
Setting Realistic & Measurable Goals:
When setting a goal, it can be very easy to keep it vague, but often times getting more specific can really help you attain those goals! So, if your goal is to read more, instead maybe your goal should be: “Read 21 Books in 2021”. Now you have a concrete goal that you can track throughout the year!
Create Your Action Plan:
Once you have chosen your goal it is important to determine how you will get there! Try starting by determining your starting point and where to go from there. You can do this in a variety of different ways, including creating smaller steps to complete along the way or adding something to your daily/weekly routine.
It is important to keep in mind that after you have set a goal, things might get in the way. So, one thing you can do is brainstorm things that might impact your goal and how to overcome them along the way.
Reevaluate Along the Way:
When setting goals, it is easy to write a list of all things you want to accomplish, but they can be easily forgotten along the way as other things come up. So, it is important to not only set goals, but to continue to check in throughout the year. And don’t be afraid to change them along the way, make your goals work for you!
Be Kind to Yourself:
While setting goals can be useful and helpful, it is important to keep in mind that sometimes we don’t meet our goals and that is totally okay! You can reflect on the progress you’ve made and try again next year!
We can’t wait to hear all about your goals, so be sure to share them in the comments!
I remember when I was in high school and I took my cookie order card with me to school. None of the other girls in my troop wanted to take theirs, but I loved being a Girl Scout and I loved getting sales! So many people bought cookies from me that I was always the top seller in my troop. I did not mind asking friends, teachers, or anyone I came across if they wanted to help me reach my goals. One year, the cookie mascot was a moose, which is one of my favorite animals, so I was determined to win as many moose themed rewards as possible! Spoiler Alert: I did! And today, I am 33 years old, but I still love cookie rewards and stuffed animals!
After graduation I moved onto college and while there I wanted to get a job on campus. I saw that the alumni department was looking for students to work on their phonathon, or call donation, team. I had never called people to ask for donations before, but I wanted a job and the hours worked with my schedule. So, I joined the alumni phonathon team! Surprise, surprise… I was not afraid to pick up the phone, talk to strangers and ask for money to reach our goals. I had been doing this for years! In fact, I was one of the top performers for the alumni phonathon! As a college student, this was very exciting!
After college I started a job in retail. One of the features of my company was a rewards program, if customers opened a credit card, they would get discounts and special promotions. Since asking customers to sign up for the credit card would intimidate a lot of employees, the company offered bonuses for those who brought in the most sign ups in a week! And again, I flourished! As you may have guessed I had no problem asking customers to open a credit card and I even noticed that my confidence and “pitch” was improving along the way.
So where did my self-confidence in sales come from? The Girl Scout Cookie Program! I never took business courses in school, but I learned so much by setting goals and building my business as a Girl Scout. And I can see how my hard work and passion has made me successful throughout my life since.
The GSHPA Girl Scout Cookie Program begins on January 15th, 2021. What will YOU learn this year?
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
Can girls join Girl Scouts without becoming part of a troop? I hope you answered, yes! While participating in a troop is one way to join Girl Scouts, there are many other ways to be involved! One way is by becoming a Juliette! A Juliette is in an independent Girl Scout who can participate in Girl Scouting on an individual basis. Traditionally, girls opt to become Juliettes for a variety of reasons, such as she becomes too busy with extracurricular activities, there are no troop options in her area, etc. The Juliette program is a great way for girls in grades K-12 to participate in Girl Scouts on their own time!
Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA has a wide variety of resources and staff support to ensure Juliettes and their caregivers have a great Girl Scout experience! Today we would like to spotlight one of our current Juliettes, Mariska Robinson! Mariska is an amazing first year Cadette Girl Scout from Laurel Run, PA. As you can see from the story before Mariska is striving to be a true example of a Girl Scout who embodies courage, confidence and character who makes the world a better place! We connected with Mariska and her family to talk about their experience.
When and why did you become a Juliette?
Mariska: “I became a Juliette in 1st grade because it was easier on me due to a health condition and I wanted to work at my pace doing what I love to do. I am changing the world in my own way! I am also a martial artist and Pennsylvania Student State Representative and I wanted to have time for those activities as well.”
What are some of your favorite experiences as a Juliette?
Mariska: “I have done some many extraordinary things as a Juliette and led the way through it all. Myfavorite things I have done so far, out of the many, are collecting law enforcement patches for two twin brothers who have Down Syndrome...as I get more patches, I make sure they receive them.Laying wreaths on fallen soldiers’ graves for Wreaths Across America was very meaningful. Making new friends, challenging myself to things I’ve never done and facing my fears have also been part of my Girl Scout Journey.
Heather (Mom): “Some of my favorite experiences as a Juliette Mom are getting to attend our Service Unit camporees every year with Mariska and being on the Camporee committee. Another experience is getting to be a part of Mariska’s Girl Scout experience.”
Tell us about some of the Journeys or badges you have earned as a Juliette?
Mariska: “I have earned all of the Girl Scout Journey’s and badges to date for each level I am in so far. One of the badges I earned is my Junior Aide award. I helped a Daisy troop earn a petal and learn about being courageous and being strong.
For my Bronze award I did a presentation on the Ronald McDonald House and why it is important to me for what they did to help my family when I was born and I collected soda tabs that they use in machines and to cash in for money to help keep their facilities up and running.
Right now, as a Cadette I have completed my Journey’s and I am guiding a Brownie Juliette through her Journey’s so I can earn my LIA awards. I will also be earning my Council award. Some of the fun patches I have earned are Helping Hands, Cookie Captain, a special Studebaker patch from cars shows my Gram and Pop attend.”
What is your favorite part of being a Juliette?
Mariska: “I love to help change the world. Being a Juliette gives me the independence and self-confidence I need to get through life and all obstacles that come my way.”
Do you have any advice for girls who are thinking about becoming a Juliette?
Mariska: “If I can change the world as Juliette you can too. Come join the fun, and help make a difference in the world around us.”
Heather (Mom): “My advice is BE YOU and show what you can do.” If Mariska can be a part of changing the world so can you.”
If you would like to read more about Mariska’s accomplishments, please follow the links below!