Geoscience for Girl Scouts!
We saw a missing piece in the STEM education shown to younger girls. There are patches for most other STEM-related fields, but none relating to the geosciences. Our goal is to create awareness and interest within the younger female community through working with the Girl Scouts. We plan to implement geoscience-related projects for the girls to work through in order to raise awareness to the field as well as spark interest.
By creating geoscience lesson plans and badges, this program will encourage girl scouts to explore this area of science and, thus create knowledge of geosciences in the younger female population.
By starting a new program that includes geoscience within the preexisting girl scout badges and projects, we will be able to educate the younger female population about a field that may be unknown to them. Introducing the field to these girls at a younger age, it may spark interest by having them participate in fun, hands-on, and educational activities relating to the geosciences.
Our Design Process
We created different lesson plans for the different age groups of girl scouts. Each lesson plan will aim at creating a geologic knowledge base as the girls complete projects to earn badges. We came up with this idea upon discovering that girl scouts learn about engineering, health, environmental science, and other subject matters, but The Girl Scouts of America organization has not yet created a way to introduce the young girl to the geosciences.
We are still working on talking to someone on the board of the group, but at the moment we have interviewed several girl scout parents to see what the parents hope their children are learning through the girl scout program. From one mom, I have learned that parents tend to want their children to join scouts to learn more (in a general sense) about their different career options. The mother would prefer her child to learn about 10 different careers than really really learn the specifics of one career option. This was valuable information as I now feel that our lesson plans will give the girl scouts a general idea of what the geosciences are.
Target Outcomes and Impact
Through the lessons we developed for the Girl Scouts of America, the girls will hopefully earn a deeper understanding of the field of geoscience. By exposing them to geoscience at an early age, we hope that this will get more girls interested in the field, to a point where they may choose to pursue it as a career. We hope to measure our impact by determining the number of females who pursue a career in geoscience after being exposed to the field through the lesson plans taught by the Girl Scouts.
We began implementing our lesson plans with a local Austin girl scout group. The girls were between the ages of 8-12 and were working towards a STEM-related patch. First, we began by introducing them to the basics of rocks and minerals, the properties of minerals, as well as how geologists identify and classify minerals. We then moved on to the mineral identification activity where the girls were shown a variety of minerals and classified them based on their hardness, color, luster, and cleavage. The lesson continued on to teach about gemstones. We spoke about gemstones, where they are found, how they are related to minerals, and where they are used in our world; birthstones, jewelry, symbolism. The last part of our lesson was a bracelet-making activity. We provided gemstones for the girl scouts to create their own mineral and gemstone jewelry to then take home.
Overall, the girls thoroughly enjoyed this lesson and the activities provided! In the first activity, they were very engaged and were participating throughout the entirety of the mineral identification activity. The second part of the lesson, bracelet making, assisted in connecting their scientific knowledge of minerals, with real-life applications. Many of the girls were familiar with their birthstones, but they now had the knowledge to connect their birthstones to minerals, and to the geosciences overall.
We created lesson plans for different age groups, and each lesson plan increased with advanced skills based on the ages of the girls. Girl Scouts is a program where girls ages 5-18 participate in different lesson plans and programs in order to achieve badges and learn life skills. After researching the amount of geoscience education that is available to the girl scout community, we found a gap. There seemed to be no specific geoscience patch or lesson plans available for girls to participate in! We took into account other lesson plans and activities and created our very own geoscience lesson plan and patch. All three of us were exposed to the geosciences at a young age, and it had lasting impacts on our educational and professional careers. We believe that if we are able to expose and educate girls who are the same ages we were, we will be able to grow the geosciences field.
We first implemented our lesson plan to a local Austin Girl Scout troop. The girl's ages ranged from 7 to 12 years old. First, we created a presentation to show the girls explaining the science behind the activity we had planned. Then, using our lesson plan, we provided them with a geoscience-related activity. The activity provided them with a hands-on experience where they could see the real-life implementation of the geosciences, instead of just listening to a presentation. By completing these activities, the girls are able to see how the geosciences can be applied to simple things in everyday life such as bracelet making or our natural environment!
The three of us were all Girl Scouts growing up, so we know the lasting effect it can have on us. We all enjoyed the activities presented to us, and vividly remember participating in them. Girl Scouts exposed us to a variety of fields, but due to the gap in geoscience education, we took it upon ourselves to close the gap and include more education and exposure to the field.
From the overall experience of creating a lesson plan for these girls, we learned the power we can have on the younger generations. We know the stigma that the geosciences have surrounded it as being only focused on the oil and gas industry. However, we wanted to get rid of that stigma and show the younger generation of girls that geosciences can be a fun and hands-on experience encompassing a variety of fields including mineralogy, cave formations, volcanology, and environmental sciences. From our lesson plans, we hope to have an impact on these girls and show them that it is possible to be a successful woman in STEM and a woman in the geosciences!
In the future, we hope to spread our lesson plans to other troops around the nation! We started with a local troop in Austin, but we hope to continue to send our lesson plans to many other groups across Texas, and eventually the nation!