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Growing into STEM: A Gold Girl Story

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Concerned about the lack of diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in her community, Sadie Pastor of Knoxville created educational resources that ultimately impacted 27 middle schools across East Tennessee. Her project, “Growing into STEM,” earned her a prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award in 2023.

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.

The Farragut High School student explained her motivation for choosing this project, saying, “I have always been interested in STEM, and I plan to pursue a career in the field. I was excited to take an engineering class that my school offered, but I quickly began to feel like an outcast as one of only three girls in the 30-student class. This made me consider what I could do to promote diversity in STEM in my community.”

With a passion for STEM and a desire to see a more inclusive future, Sadie created educational resources designed to engage middle school students and encourage them to pursue studies in STEM fields. Through presentations and fun, interactive STEM activities, she reached out to diverse groups of students across her community.

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Students eagerly raise their hands during one of Sadie’s presentations. 

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Students work on a STEM-inspired activity .

“My favorite part of this project was interacting with the kids,” Sadie shared. “I worked with a large group of middle school children, and they were extremely enthusiastic and fun to work with.” Sadie received thanks from a minority girl who “came up to me after a presentation and thanked me for speaking out about diversity. I will always remember her kind words.”

Sadie’s dedication to promoting diversity in STEM extended beyond in-person presentations. She also developed a website at offering her educational resources and presentations for educators to access and implement in their own classrooms and programs. Despite facing some technical challenges, Sadie persevered and successfully shared her resources with 27 middle schools across East Tennessee.

Through her Gold Award project Sadie not only gained valuable leadership and presentation skills, but also learned how to set up a website and educated herself about various aspects of web design. As she moves forward, Sadie is excited to enter 11th grade and plans to later pursue a bachelor’s degree in architecture at the University of Tennessee. She describes herself as “driven by design.”

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Sadie talks to a group of students.

In reflecting on her Girl Scout experience, Sadie recalls fond memories of camping trips with her troop to Camp Tanasi. In her free time, she says, “I love to sketch, read, learn, dream, and be in nature.” She also enjoys spending time with her friends, family, school debate club, two cats, and two dogs.

Sadie’s “Growing Into STEM” project showcases her dedication to creating a more diverse and inclusive future in STEM fields. With her determination and passion for change, Sadie truly is inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders.

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