STEAM Snack: Cookie Creations!

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: 

  • Safe 
  • Nutritious 
  • Tastes good 
  • Economical 
  • Abundant 
  • Easy to prepare 
  • Sustainable  

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: 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 

(Source: https://engage.erasmus.site/creativity/5/)  

What if I’m not an expert? 

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.  

The Badges 

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: 

  • Computer science 
  • Creative technology & design 
  • Engineering 
  • 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  

The Activity 

Materialsat 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 GirlsStart 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!  


Post by Colleen Park, Program Coordinator

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