Math, Not Cookies, for Girl Scouts in OregonAugust 16, 2010
Recently, I heard astronaut Sally Ride interview on the Diane Rehm Show. She talked about how she had a “growth mindset” as a child and worked hard to learn science and math. As we know from AAUW’s Why So Few? report, sharing the idea that science and math skills are not innate, with girls especially, is key to encouraging involvement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes and careers.
The AAUW Bend (OR) Branch is putting this idea into practice with their new Girl Scouts Science and Math Fair. This year, volunteers from the branch partnered with the Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington to host a one-day event to help Junior Girl Scouts in fourth and fifth grades earn their “Math Whiz” and “Making it Matter” badges. An AAUW branch member who is a troop leader coordinated with the Girl Scouts to recruit the girls and other troop leaders. She also organized older scouts to volunteer at the event.
The day began with a welcome from AAUW and a presentation by an associate professor of mathematics at Central Oregon Community College, who spoke to the girls about how she got interested in her career and who encouraged her to pursue math.
Afterward, the girls participated in math activities at six stations in the morning and in chemistry and mechanics activities at six stations in the afternoon. AAUW members staffed the stations as the groups of five to six girls cycled through every 20 minutes. Girls were only charged $10 to participate, which included the cost of supplies, lunch, and the badges distributed by the girls’ troop leaders at the end of the day.
The branch learned a lot from their first-time event. The 16 members who participated attended a practice session to learn their activity and familiarize themselves with the supplies. Several had been Girl Scout troop leaders in the past and were creative in expanding the activities.
“In planning the event, we selected badge activities that would lend themselves to being done indoors and could be accomplished in 20 minutes. In practice, some activities were too quick and some too long, but the dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteers showed the girls that there are educated women in their community who are supportive of their future,” said Wendy Colby, Bend educational equity chair.
Branch President Kathi Dew concurs: “All our members gave it high marks and want to repeat it again.”
Local Girl Scout troops are natural partners for AAUW branches and others looking to collaborate on science and math events for girls. Search the NGCP Program Directory for Girl Scout programs looking to partner. Not a scientist? Check out It’s Her Future, their Girls Go Tech guidebook for adults .