Girl Scouts has made a commitment to put 2.5 million girls through hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs by 2025 to help bridge the ever-widening STEM gap in the United States.
At Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians (GSCSA), we’re doing our part through partnerships with local community colleges that provide Girl Scouts with interactive STEM workshops.
Our most recent event was held on Saturday, November 17, where nearly 40 Girl Scouts attended STEM workshops on the campus of Chattanooga State Community College. Thanks to sponsorship by the college, the event was offered for free to the girls.
Savitha Pinnepalli, head of the Engineering and Information Technologies Department at Chattanooga State, said the event was designed to help expose girls to various careers paths within STEM.
“When they’re ready to make a college decision,” said Pinnepalli, “we hope the experiments they have seen and the coding they have seen and the robots that they have designed will help them [have] better insight and…narrow down their decisions [while] making a great career choice.”
The workshops offered by Chattanooga State included: computer aided design (CAD), robotics, nuclear science, website design, chemical engineering, coding, computer technician, and 3D printing.
Girls could select two workshops to attend; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In each of the sessions, they were able to put into practice what they were just taught, from testing objects for radiation, to coding a website, to building a robot, and much more!
“I [got] to learn a lot of things here,” said Jaida, a Girl Scout Cadette, “and that’s what being a Girl Scout is all about, to learn things and help you grow.”
The event could not have happened without the generous volunteers who gave up their Saturday to lead the workshops and help instruct the girls. Outside of the college professors and students who volunteered their time, other partnering organizations included DC Blox, TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority), and ChaTech.
For Larry Narramore, design and drafting instructor at Chattanooga State, who helped lead the 3D printing workshop, teaching Girl Scouts about STEM had a personal connection.
“I have a daughter and she’s three years old,” said Narramore. “I want her to get involved with STEM, [so I’m]…paying it forward.”
Data collected by the National Girls Collaborative Project show girls in school perform equally as well in STEM subjects as their male peers; however, it’s also been found that girls’ confidence levels in STEM related subjects start decreasing as early as third grade. Studies conducted by both the Girl Scout Research Institute and Microsoft saw a reported need for girls to see examples of others, specifically women, in STEM careers to help inspire and show them the way both literally and figuratively. Through events like this one at Chattanooga State, GSCSA and our community partners are helping girls regain their STEM confidence.
“There are women…in very high positions [in STEM] that were able to
climb up the ladder and do great things,” said Pinnepalli. “It’s not
that it can’t be done, we just need more of them and there is strength
in numbers. That’s why I promote girls in STEM.”