“65% of children in primary schools today will work in jobs that don’t exist yet.” How can we prepare our girls for a future job that hasn’t even been created yet? Broader still, how can we give them the tools to navigate not just the career world, but whatever challenges they’ll face in life? Hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) can help unlock your girls’ potential.
More than knowing any coding language or math formula, the scientists, innovators, and leaders of the future need to be able to think a certain way. Let’s talk about three skills your girls can learn from STEM, and how those skills will help her lead and succeed in every part of her life:
Every scientific discovery started with a question. Encouraging girls to ask “Why?” and investigate the answers not only helps them understand the world around them, it can also help them innovate for the future. “Why?” is how products, systems, and designs are made better. Asking “Why?” helps girls get to the root cause of the issues they care about, and create solutions are more sustainable and impactful. Plus, developing a curiosity about the world is just plain fun!
Troop Leader Tip:
Model curiosity with the girls by asking great questions like: “What do you think will happen?” “What changed?” and “How do you think that works?”
Scientists, engineers, and programmers always work in a team! STEM activities offer girls a chance to problem-solve together. By practicing their teamwork skills in STEM, girls are developing collaboration abilities for school projects, sports, and their future career (in any field). They also learn that everyone has skills and perspectives to bring to the table, even if they don’t have a background in that topic.
Troop Leader Tip:
STEM activities make great teambuilders for your troop. Try swapping out that human knot for an engineering challenge!
Science and innovation are only possible through failure. Teaching girls that failure is not just okay but necessary will help them persist when things get tough. Beyond that, girls who know that failure is part of the process are more likely to try new things and develop skills in areas they aren’t immediately good at. Learning from failure is a skill that many girls don’t have opportunities to practice. You can give them this practice through STEM activities like coding and engineering challenges. Soon they’ll be taking more risks—like raising their hand even if they’re not 100% sure of the answer or choosing to take a class in a new subject.
Troop Leader Tip:
Don’t just make failure “okay,” make it AWESOME! Celebrate failure in all your troop activities by encouraging girls to call out when they “mess up.” The rest of the troop can clap and cheer them on!
With some fun, hands-on STEM experiences in their back pocket, your girls will be ready to take on new challenges, lead with empathy, and ask lots and lots of questions. These skills will help them not just in science class, but as they navigate peer relationships, take on leadership roles, and work to make the world a better place.
Interested in doing a STEM badge or Journey with your troop? Check out Volunteer Toolkit (login to MyGS) or one of our program events!
Hannah Gilbert – Hannah is the STEM Program Coordinator and Summer Camp Director of Camp Lakamaga at Girl Scouts River Valleys. She also co-leads a troop of passionate, hilarious Girl Scout Juniors. Hannah has a degree in anthropology and environmental studies from New College of Florida. She’s worked in youth development continuously since high school and has spent over five summers at one camp or another. Her favorite activities to do with girls are open-ended, messy, and collaborative! Hannah lives in Minneapolis with her husband and their six-pound rescue dog. She loves to play video games and go hiking. She’s also a big movie fan—Hannah and her husband watch at least two movies a week!