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Girl Scouts Add New Badges for STEM, Outdoor Activities

The Girl Scouts announced today that they’re beefing up their offerings in STEM and the outdoors, adding a plethora of new merit badges to further encourage young women in everything from camping to robotics, and opportunities start as young as kindergarten.

The GSUSA has been on a STEM kick lately—last year saw their first-ever Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float, which featured the group’s STEM offerings, and they recently announced the development of several cybersecurity badges. (Great, they can educate their boomer grandparents!)

And now GSUSA says the 23 new badges represent the largest programming rollout for scouts in nearly a decade, and presents the opportunity to “create algorithms, design robots and racecars, go on environmentally conscious camping trips, collect data in the great outdoors, try their hand at engineering, and so much more.” The organization collaborated with groups like the Society of Women Engineers, Code.org, and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in order to create the lesson plans that scouts work through to earn the iconic, brightly colored patches.

For instance, Daisies—that is, girls in kindergarten and first grade—can now try for What Robots Do, How Robots Move, and Design a Robot. For that last one, “Daisies build a prototype of a robot to fix an everyday problem. They will learn about simple machines like gears, levers and pulleys and how to use them to build more complex machines.”

Sylvia Acevedo, the Stanford-educated literal rocket scientist who is now CEO of the organization, said that it was Girl Scouts that first set her on the path toward STEM. “A lot of girls haven’t made that shift from using technology to, ‘You can actually be a programmer,’” she told the Associated Press, adding that, “That you’re the one who can make that coding. For a lot of girls, they need to have that hands-on experience so they feel confident.”

Meanwhile, girls who stick with the program until the Ambassador level—grades 11 and 12—can try for the “Survival Camper” badge, if they are willing to “challenge themselves to get by with fewer traditional camping amenities—safely.” Juniors (grades 4 and 5) can work toward an “Eco Camper” badge and learn about leaving as few traces as possible.

The press release from the Girl Scouts noted that, “Girl Scouts are almost twice as likely as non–Girl Scouts to participate in STEM (60 percent versus 35 percent) and outdoor activities (76 percent versus 43 percent).”

The Girl Scouts won’t rest until an entire generation of young women is perfectly capable of building prepper compounds in the wilderness with working solar-power technology made from DIY slime and American Girl doll paraphernalia and frankly, I am for it.