What you do as a Girl Scout stays with you for life. So it's great to see that Think Like a Programmer Awards are being introduced for Girl Scout Daisies, Brownies and Juniors, along with badges for robotics.
Girl Scouts collaborated with Code.org to develop computational-thinking programs for girls. Hadi Partovi, its co-founder and CEO, commented:
“We are thrilled to partner with Girl Scouts to introduce more girls to computational thinking. In the 21st century, these critical-thinking and problem-solving skills are essential for all girls as they become tomorrow’s leaders and innovators.”
Explaining the choice of robotics, Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of the Girl Scouts explains:
"We've seen girls being users of technology but not necessarily programmers, and robotics is a great way to learn how to code. It lets girls have a fun experience with friends while learning a skill."
Research indicates that girls “opt out” of STEM as early as second or third grade, so the first set of badges, which range in scope and skill level, from the Daisy-level What Robots Do to the Junior-level Programming Robots are focused on elementary school girls. However, to ensure that girls have opportunities to continue learning, experimenting, and coding, Girl Scouts and Code.org are currently developing middle and high school computational-thinking and robotics programs. Girl Scouts also plans to unveil 18 badges focused on cybersecurity, between now and 2019.
Avecedo, who as CEO of the Girl Scouts is the person who makes decisions about what's on offer, is herself an engineer who has worked. Her experience of building a rocket while in Girl Scouts inspired her to pursue a career in tech and now she hopes to inspire girls to choose STEM careers. Referring to the planned expansion into cybersecurity she says:
"[These girls] want to be hackers. They want to protect against cybersecurity and cyberterrorism ... If you think about it, that's solving a problem in their community — and that's the core of what we do at Girl Scouts."
The press release announcing the new STEM Badges states:
Through hands-on and age-appropriate experiences for girls as young as five, Girl Scouts is addressing the lack of exposure many girls have to STEM. In fact, Girl Scouts are almost twice as likely as non–Girl Scouts to participate in STEM (60 percent versus 35 percent).
It also points to a new report from the Girl Scout Research Institute that shows that participating in Girl Scouts helps girls develop key leadership skills they need to be successful in life. Compared to their peers, Girl Scouts are more likely than non–Girl Scouts to be leaders because they:
- Have confidence in themselves and their abilities (80% vs. 68%)
- Act ethically and responsibly, and show concern for others (75% vs. 59%)
- Seek challenges and learn from setbacks (62% vs. 42%)
- Develop and maintain healthy relationships (60% vs. 43%)
- Identify and solve problems in their communities (57% vs. 28%)
- Take an active role in decision making (80% vs. 51%)
What girls gain through Girl Scouting positively affects all areas of their lives. For example, Girl Scouts do better than their non–Girl Scout peers in the classroom, earning better grades and aspiring to higher educational attainment, and are more likely to seek careers in STEM, law, and business—industries in which women are underrepresented.
Learning computational thinking has similar benefits so the match between Girl Scouting and coding seems one to be welcomed.
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