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: Model Cars

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. 

Ah, it’s finally spring! With the warmer weather approaching, many of us use this time to get some Spring Cleaning started. Why not put all those things in your junk drawer and recycling bins to good use by creating model cars! This STEAM activity brings together the engineering and art by allowing girls to explore their creativity and build something out of objects they have at home. By using everyday “junk” they will expand their minds and repurpose it into something new.  

Why mechanical engineering? 

When you hear the word engineering, you usually think about buildings and bridges. Learning about the different branches or types of engineering is not only interesting, but it can be fun and useful for you and your troop.  

In its most basic definition, mechanical engineering is the design and building of machines. A mechanical engineer is someone who solves problems with creative solutions, usually through designing and building different types of machinery.  Engineers use their imaginations to invent new things and come up with new and better designs. This is a great opportunity to help young girls learn problem-solving skills that help make the world a better place.  

Mechanical engineers are involved in many fields of work, including:

Aerospace engineering, automotive engineering, construction, energy, manufacturing, medicine, railway engineering, and sports!  

Mechanical engineers use the design process to work through their solutions and designs. These are skills the girls can adapt to any situation: 

  1. Define the need 
  1. Brainstorm 
  1. Design 
  1. Build 
  1. Test & evaluate 
  1. Redesign 
  1. Share solutions  

Remember: Steps 4-6 can be repeated in a cycle over and over again until a final design has been found/created.  

What if I’m not an expert? 

We are not all mechanical engineers, and it is ok to feel like we don’t know enough to lead the girls in engineering activities. But remember you do know enough! Focus on the steps of the design process, let the girls lead their projects, see where it goes.  You will get different designs as the girls use their imagination to solve the challenge.   

If you are feeling that 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 an engineer you can invite to come talk to your girls.   

How do I get started? 

To get familiar with mechanical engineering, watch this video from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. It’s a great video to share with your girls to learn about mechanical engineering, understanding how to involve your interests when considering a future career, and learning that mechanical engineering is way more than what you might’ve thought. Video: What is a Mechanical Engineer? –An Introduction  

Before gathering supplies for you to do the activity, remember, it is always easier to guide girls through the process when you have done it yourself.  Start at the beginning and work through each step, make notes (mental or written) on how each step works for you and any modifications you might make for your girls.  When you are done you now have a prototype to share with the girls! 

The Badges 

  • Daisy Mechanical Engineering Model Car: Steps 1 & 3 
  • Brownie Mechanical Engineering Race Car: Steps 2, 4, & 5 
  • D/B/J/C/S/A Think Like an Engineer Journey: Step 1 
  • Find out how engineers use design thinking to solve problems. 

The Activity 

Supplies 

Look in your junk drawer, recycling bin, and around the house for materials to create a model car.  

General supplies: paper, pencil, tape, glue/hot glue, and scissors. 

Things that might be handy for designing/redesigning: rubber bands, push pins/tacks,  

Here are some suggestions for specific model car parts: 

  • Body of car: water bottle, toilet paper/paper towel tube, juice box, disposable cup, takeout container, ice cream container, milk carton, cardboard box, tissue box, cans (soda, canned food) 
  • Axles: straws, BBQ skewers, chopsticks, toothpicks, pencils, pens  
  • Wheels: bottle caps, candy mints with a hole in the middle, CDs, cardboard circles, buttons, beads  
  • Connecter for attaching wheels to axle: dry sponge, foam, clay, marshmallow cut in half 

Introduction to the girls 

Start the activity by talking to the girls about what a mechanical engineer is and introduce the design process.  This would be a good opportunity to share the “What is a Mechanical Engineer?” video with the group.  

If you have a large group or think your girls would enjoy working in pairs have them pair up at this point. Explain that they will be following the design process for each step of this activity. 

Define the need 

To build a model car out of materials found around the home, build a car that will move when pushed or using air as an energy source. 

Brainstorm & Design 

Give each girl a piece of paper and pencil and set the timer to at least 5 minutes (10 minutes if you think your girls need more time) to brainstorm their ideas. Girls should use the full five minutes to draw their ideas and write down any thoughts. If they think they’re done, ask them to get more specific or draw their design from different angles/points of view. What kind of car do they want to create? What is their power source? What materials are they going to use? 

Build 

Have girls grab their materials and build their cars! Encourage them to try out different materials and take a moment to think how it will work in their designs. Remind them that it’s okay if it doesn’t work how they imagined – mechanical engineers encounter problems like this every day in their jobs. Problems are a way to find the solution.  

Test & Evaluate 

Remind the girls that as they are testing to ask themselves questions like: How it is working? How does it look? Is there something I can do to make it perform better? What other material would work since this one doesn’t? Can I adjust something before taking away that material? Will changing one thing affect another?  

Redesign 

Girls take those questions they asked themselves and redesign their cars. Some may need small changes and others may need to start over. Remind them: if your car doesn’t work the way you want it to, that’s not a failure, that’s an opportunity to make it better. Take a few minutes to think about what went wrong and how you can change it. Once it is redesigned, test and evaluate again. 

Share Solutions 

Once everyone has designed, built, and tested their cars it’s time to share! Have each girl showcase her car and share what she did to create it, test it, and improve it.  

As a group, ask the girls questions like: 

  • What made your car go faster? 
  • What would have slowed the cars down? 
  • What failures did you face? What did you do to work through it? 
  • How did you improve your designs?  
  • If you had more time, what would you do? 

Time for a Snack 

Great job! Keep the mechanical engineering theme going by creating and eating your own apple and grape race cars!  

Ingredients:  

  • Apple  
  • Grapes 
  • Toothpick  
  • Knife to cut fruit  

Directions: 

  • Grab your apple and cut two full cheeks – cut the two sides of the apple, leaving the middle. Slice out the center into thirds, creating a wedge.  
  • Cut grapes in half. 
  • Push 2 toothpicks into each apple wedge to represent the car axles. Put the grape halves on each side to represent wheels. 
  • Enjoy!  

Source/credit: 

https://www.kidspot.com.au/kitchen/recipes/apple-race-car-snack-recipe/hgdm5z2c


Written by: Colleen Park

STEAM Snack: Unplugged Coding – Valentine’s Day

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. 

February is here! With this new month comes Valentine’s Day – a day filled with treats, sweet messages, and often a lot of sugar. This unplugged coding activity will maximize the nice messages, while minimizing screen time (and cutting back on eating too many sweets!) Girls will be making binary bracelets with a Valentine’s twist! 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 unplugged coding?  

Basic coding activities are a great way to have fun without screens or computers. Introducing your girls to the binary alphabet can help them gain a better understanding of the technology, apps, and games they use every day. If they already understand the basics of coding, this is a great refresher and a fun way to showcase their existing knowledge. 

What is binary code? 

Binary code is the code used in digital computers that is based on the binary number system in which there are only two states – off and on. Off and on are symbolized by 0 and 1. A binary code signal is a series of electrical pulses that represent numbers, characters, and operations to be performed. In binary code, each number or letter is represented by a set of four binary digits, also called bits.  

What if I’m not an expert? 

We are not all coding or computer specialists, and it is okay to feel like we don’t know enough to lead the girls in computer science activities. But remember, you do! Focus on the basics of binary code and let the girls lead their projects and see where it goes. Each girl will have a different design/set of code. 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 computer science professional you can invite to come talk to your girls.   

How do I get started? 

Take some time to look over the basics of binary coding and computer science. Take a look at this resource that helps explain the Binary Alphabet.  Review the Binary Bracelets lesson from code.org for more information. 

Now’s the time to gather supplies for you to do the activity – it’s always easier to guide girls through the process when you have done it yourself. Once you have everything, read through the directions in “The Activity” section below. 

  • Pink, white, and red craft pipe cleaners  
  • Pink, white, and red pony beads 
  • Paper and pencil 
  • Print out of the Binary Bracelet Worksheet from code.org  
  • Scissors  
  • Tape  

The Badges 

This activity is a great way to introduce coding to your girls or troop. You can change the level of difficulty by having girls code their initials or an entire word/sentence. Complete this activity just for fun, adapt it to fit other holidays, or add this activity into your meetings for any of the following badges: 

  • Daisy Coding for Good 1: Coding Basics 
  • Brownie Coding for Good 1: Basics 
  • Brownie Robotics 1: Programming Robots 
  • Junior Coding for Good 1: Coding Basics 
  • Junior Robotics 1: Programming Robots 

The Activity  

Need enough materials for each girl participating: pink/white/red craft pipe cleaners (ribbon or yarn will work), pink/white/red pony beads (need a lot since each letter girls’ will be coding takes 8 beads), paper, pencil, print out the Binary Bracelet Worksheet for each girl, scissors, and tape.  

Introduction to the girls 

  • Today’s activity is all about coding – but without technology or computers! Where is coding used? 
    • Computers, phones, robotics, technology, etc.  
    • What is coding? (Give girls time to think and answer). 
      • Coding is defined as “A specific language or series of commands that tells a computer what to do.” 
  • For this activity, we will be learning/review Binary Code. 
    • Binary is a way of representing information using only two options. 
  • Has anyone seen the inside of a computer? 
    • What’s in there? (Share a photo of the inside of a computer) 
  • Wires carry information through the machine in the form of electricity. 
    • The two options that a computer uses with respect to this electrical information are “off” and “on.” 
    • When computers represent information using only two options, it’s called “Binary.” 
    • That theme of two options doesn’t stop when the information gets to its destination. 
  • Computers also store or save information using Binary. 
  • How can we convert/translate/change the things we store in a computer into binary? 
    • Let’s use letters!  

Step 1: Binary Decoder Key/Paper Bracelets 

This first activity is a great introduction to binary and gets the girls comfortable before creating their Valentine’s hearts. Make sure girls have paper, pencil, and a copy of the Binary Bracelet Worksheet. Explain the following: 

  • Have girls take out the Binary Decoder Key. This is how a computer might represent capital letters. 
    • Look at the letter “A” 
    • It’s represented by black and white squares 
  • Look at each letter and explain to girls that the letters can be written in a code using the black and white squares 
  • For Brownies and Juniors (before creating bracelet) 
    • If it was written in a computer, the black squares would be zero’s and the white squares would be one’s 
      • 0100 0001 
    • Use your blank piece of paper and pencil and write the first letter of your first name, and the first letter of your last name 
      • If your name starts with “A”, find “A” on the Binary Decoder Key 
        • Example: A = 0100 0001 
  • Once the girls understand, have them complete the following: 
    • Find the first letter of your first name. 
    • Fill in the squares of the bracelet to match the pattern of the squares next to the letter that you found. 
    • Cut the bracelet our and tape it around your wrist to wear! 

Step 2: Valentine’s Binary Hearts 

Once the girls feel comfortable and understand the basics of binary, they are ready to create their Valentine’s hearts! Make sure they have the Alphabet in Binary Code, paper, pencil, beads, and pipe cleaners. More information on this activity can be found here

Have girls pick what they want to code for their hearts. Keep them simple, remember each letter takes 8 beads. Once they pick their word/letters, have them write them on a piece of paper using the Binary Decoder Key. Girls can make multiple hearts for words or attach more pipe cleaners for longer words. Tell them to pick TWO colors for their beads – REMEMBER one color represents the zeros and one color represents the ones. Choose another bead color as a separator between the letters.  

  • LOVE 
  • HI 
  • BFF 
  • MOM 
  • DAD 
  • CUTE 
  • NICE 
  • ROSE 

Example: LOVE, zeros are pink and ones are white, purple bead to put between each new letter. 

  • L = 0100 1100 (add purple bead to separate) 
  • O = 0100 1111 
  • V = 0101 0110 
  • E = 0100 0101 

Bonus: to extend the activity, have girls write simple messages in binary and trade with someone to see if they can decode the message! 

Congratulations, you did it! You deserve a snack – let’s make Valentine’s Fruit Kebabs!  

Valentine Fruit Wands

Materials: 

  • Watermelon 
  • Strawberries  
  • Any fruit that you like! 
  • Small heart cookie cutter 
  • Knife for cutting fruit 
  • Wood/metal skewers or even straws 

Cut your watermelon into ½ to 1 inch slices, then use the small heart cookie cutter to cut watermelon into smaller heart pieces. Use a knife to remove the stems off the strawberries (can get creative and cut the stem off and make it look like a heart). If you want to add raspberries, blackberries, or even grapes go for it! For extra sweetness, add some whipped cream topping or melted chocolate to dip your fruit in! 


Post by Liz Bleacher

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