It’s back-to-troop time and we’re ready to get you started on the right foot! These STEM Journey starters are easy to do while maintaining social distance, use minimal supplies to limit sharing, and will inspire your Girl Scouts to get their science-thinking caps on.
Think Like A Programmer: If/Then Statements
Supplies: Paper, pencil, coloring utensils
- Everyone should start out with a piece of paper, a pencil, and some coloring utensils.
- Everyone will take a minute to draw a stick figure. Make sure to include everyone’s Girl Scout vest or sash!
- Girl Scouts will be presented with a series of choices. They must choose one answer and draw the item on their stick figure. Read each of the statements twice.
- Round 1: Choose 1 Emotion
a. If you are feeling happy, then draw a big smile.
b. If you are feeling loved, then draw heart eyes.
c. If you are feeling smart, then draw glasses.
d. If you are feeling goofy, then draw your tongue sticking out.
- Round 2: Choose 1 Cookie
a. If you like Thin Mints, then draw green hair.
b. If you like Caramel deLites, then draw orange hair.
c. If you like Lemonades, then draw yellow hair.
d. If you like Peanut Butter Patties, then draw red hair.
- Round 3: Choose 1 Girl Scout Pillar
a. If you like science, then draw a magnifying glass.
b. If you like the outdoors, then draw a compass.
c. If you like creative arts, then draw a paintbrush.
d. If you like entrepreneurship, then draw a piggy bank.
- Round 4: Choose 1 Season
a. If you like summer, then draw sunglasses.
b. If you like fall, then draw a scarf.
c. If you like winter, then draw mittens.
d. If you like spring, then draw an umbrella.
- Round 5: Choose 1 Physical Activity
a. If you like running, then draw tennis shoes.
b. If you like swimming, then draw flippers.
c. If you like horseback riding, then draw boots.
d. If you like dancing, then draw ballet shoes.
- Share the drawings with each other—see how everyone is just a little different!
- Reflect. What did you notice about the activity we just did? Was there something repeated?
- We used if/then statement every time! If/then statements are also called conditional statements. Computers use conditional statements to know when to perform a certain task. That means you’re telling the computer, if this happens or is true, then do that. Can you think of any other if/then statements to add to our drawing?
Think Like an Engineer: Paper Chain Challenge
Supplies: Paper (one sheet per girl), scissors, tape
- Everyone should start out with a sheet of paper, a pair of scissors, and some tape.
- Reflect on what comes to mind when you hear the word “engineering.” Engineers are people who design, build, and test various materials, machines, and buildings. In this activity, Girl Scouts are going to become mechanical engineers and work on building a chain.
- A chain is a series of linkages (usually metal) that form a flexible rope-like material. What are some ways to use chains in our daily lives? Small chains are used for necklaces or bracelets. They are also used in braces to form to the shape of your mouth. Larger chains are used in bikes and cars to move them forward.
- Each girl’s challenge now is to create the longest paper chain they can, using only the materials they have on hand. They have 10–15 minutes to complete the challenge!
- When the time is up, lay the chains on the ground, one-by-one, and compare. Who had the longest chain? How long is it?
- Extend the activity. Can the girls beat their chain length in a second-round?
- Reflect. What was challenging about this activity? What changes did you make in the second round?
Think Like a Citizen Scientist: Map it out!
Supplies: Paper, pencil, (optional) coloring materials
- Everyone should start out with a sheet of paper and a pencil, plus coloring materials if you’ll be using them.
- What do you know about maps? Have you ever used one? A map is one tool that scientists use in research. Maps allow scientists to record location, helps them recognize patterns, and is an easy way to visualize information! It is especially important in citizen science so researchers can return to the same spot to make observations over a long period of time.
- Practice drawing maps of their own backyard or a park they know or your meeting location.
- Start by drawing landmarks. These could be trees, a lake, walking paths, flowers, a birdfeeder, etc.
- Next, add your cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west).
- Once maps are drawn, it’s time to practice observation skills. What’s an observation? An observation is just a fancy word for looking at something very carefully.
- What are some signs of fall? Take a (socially distanced) walk and map them out!
a. Draw where the leaves are changing color.
b. Add which flowers are still in bloom.
c. See if there are any mushrooms, lichen, or other fungi growing.
d. Mark where the squirrels and bunnies are living.
e. Note if you see any pollinators or birds.
f. Check the sidewalks to see if ants are still roaming about.
g. Reflect and share maps. What did you observe in your backyard or park? Do you think you could use your map to come back again? What might you find in the spring?
Whether your girls want to Think like a Programmer, Think Like an Engineer, or Think Like a Citizen Scientist, you’ll be exposing them to the creativity and inspiration of STEM. Who knows how many budding programmers, engineers, and innovators you’ll be setting on the path to success!
Abby Lown – Abby is a STEM Program Coordinator at Girl Scouts River Valleys. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in Biology and spent three years teaching in the Peace Corps in Mozambique. When she isn’t creating cool STEM programs for Girl Scouts, she loves finding new adventures in the Twin Cities or trying her hand at a new recipe.