Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois' STEM program is about increasing girl’s participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Girls push boundaries, test limits, and look at the world around them with inquisitive eyes. They’re natural scientists! Girl Scouts introduces girls of every age to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiences relevant to everyday life. Whether they’re discovering how a car’s engine runs, how to manage finances, or exploring careers in STEM fields, girls are fast-forwarding into the future.
Girl Scouts’ Unique Approach to STEM.
Girl Scouts’ approach to STEM is unique because STEM experiences are framed within the context of leadership: As girls participate in Girl Scouting, they develop leadership skills to make the world a better place. Research shows girls are more interested in STEM careers when they know how their work can help others.
The Girl Scout Leadership Experience engages girls through the three Girl Scout processes of: girl-led, learning by doing, and cooperative learning.
Here’s how these processes provide quality STEM experiences for girls:
- Girl-led: Even when a girl has an interest in STEM, she might find that boys take the lead in a school environment due to unspoken assumptions about gender roles. Girl Scouts offers a safe, supportive place for girls to seek challenges. The girl-led process encourages girls to decide which topics they want to explore and how they want to go about it.
- Learning by doing: Research shows that, particularly with STEM, youth need to be hands-on, active learners. The learning-by-doing process encourages this approach. In addition, Girl Scouts’ learning-by-doing process involves a reflection step that asks girls to think about how a given activity worked and what they would do differently in the future—a key skill in scientific testing and conducting experiments.
- Cooperative learning: In general, girls prefer a collaborative leadership style, rather than the traditional, top-down, “command and control” approach. The cooperative learning process gives girls the opportunity to develop leadership and STEM skills in a way that might feel most comfortable.
Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
The goal of the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) is to elevate the voices of girls on issues that matter to them and their futures. The aim of this report is to explore how girls can better become engaged in STEM through examination of what girls themselves say are their interests and perceptions about these important fields.