Girl Scouts Teach Coding at Decatur, Ill., STEM Event

Encouraging girls' interest in STEM fields at such a young age will, the Girl Scouts organization hopes, also later encourage those girls to pursue a career in the STEM field when they grow up.

by Valerie Wells, Herald & Review / October 11, 2019
Shutterstock/ SpeedKingz

(TNS) — Girl Scouts are all about “girl power” and their newest batch of badges that girls can earn are all about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

In celebration of the Coding for Good badge, Girl Scouts of Central Illinois sponsored a Family STEM Night at Muffley School in Decatur, Ill., on Thursday, offering families at the school the chance to learn the basics of coding even if they don't have any technology know-how.

The families received packets and crayons which they were to use to create patterns, which are the basic building blocks of coding, and also designed a two-color quilt.

“Computers don't have brains,” said Kourtney Pygott, program specialist for Girl Scouts. “We have to tell them what to do and give them steps to follow.”

The quilt activity was inspired by her grandmother, who makes quilts.

With 42 new badges based on STEM, plus all the other badges girls can earn, there's something for every girl.

“I don't think a girl would have time to earn all the badges,” said Sonja Chargois, also a program specialist.

The reason for Girl Scouts' emphasis on STEM is the low number of women in those fields, according to the Girl Scouts' website. Encouraging girls' interest in those fields at a young age will, the organization hopes, also encourage those girls to pursue a career in the STEM field when they grow up.

Jennifer Power brought daughters Katie, 8, and Kenna, 5, who are students at Muffley.

“I like doing things with robots,” said Katie, who's in third grade.

STEM activities start at Muffley as early as kindergarten, said Megan Noel, who teaches kindergarten at the school. One activity she gave her students was to squeeze all the toothpaste out of a tube and then figure out how to get it back in, and surprisingly, some of them were successful in getting some of it back in. The ones who did figured out that using something small, like a toothpick, to poke the toothpaste back into the tube was more efficient than using something larger, though it took time and patience to put the toothpaste back into the tube that way. They also learned that squirting the paste out onto a plate was better than using a bowl. The whole process, Noel said, taught them problem-solving and engineering skills.

©2019 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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