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Connecting Students to STEAM Resources: A Gold Girl Story

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Arabella Sarver of Vonore, TN, noticed a significant disparity in the quality of education in the subjects of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) that underserved children in Vonore received. This led her to create an interactive center to interest students and connect them with STEAM learning resources as part of earning her Girl Scout Gold Award. 

Gold Award Girl Scouts are high schoolers who address issues they’re passionate about by planning and implementing a project that produces lasting change in the community and beyond. It is the Girl Scouts’ highest and most prestigious honor.

Arabella named her project The Sarver STEAM Interactive Centre, and it is a permanent installation at Loudon Public Library. It consists of five panels, one each for science, technology, engineering, Art, and math that contain tactile objects, interactive games, and educational resources related to each subject area. The goal is to connect underserved and minority youth in grades K-5 to extracurricular STEAM exposure through play.

Growing up in a community deeply affected by poverty where STEAM education was inaccessible is what led Arabella to action. “Quality education helps to advance individuals and communities toward a better future. By meeting schoolchildren where they are and tending to this need in a concrete way, this inequity can begin to be addressed,” she shares. 

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Arabella shows off the Math panel of her interactive center. 

She honed several skills throughout the project, and her favorite part was problem-solving and constructing the unique elements and activities to meet the project objectives. She jokes that the biggest obstacle she faced was “the daunting amount of horrendously repetitive paperwork.” But she offers that “securing adequate funds and materials proved a challenge that was overcome by the inspiring generosity of others – both in and out of the Girl Scouting sphere.”

Arabella was inspired by “the realization that the abstract solutions that I conjure can become physical and cultivate motions of change. It is truly profound. There is something empowering about looking down the barrel of a great obstacle and actively fighting back by using the collective force of many good people, a handful of good ideas, and a whole heap of courage.”

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Arabella show off the Science panel of her interactive center. 

She fondly remembers one of her favorite Girl Scouts activities: the time she got to spend a night with her friends at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge. “I was obsessed with the disaster and the Leonardo DiCaprio film. I decided to submerge my hand in the freezing Atlantic Ocean-temperature water at the museum until the other girls in my group surrendered. This still gets brought up in conversation all these years later.”

She enjoys many pastimes, including writing novels, modeling, creating art, making YouTube videos, and recording her podcast, “The Hoedown.” She loves spending time with her partner, Nathan Thompson, and her band of friends. She plans to attend the University of Tennessee this fall and focus on environmental studies. 

Congratulations, Arabella! Visit to learn more about the Girl Scouts.  

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Library visitors enjoying the Sarver STEAM Interactive Centre.

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