December 12, 2014
Dear Members and Friends of Girl Scouts,
My thoughts are with those whose families and/or communities suffered damage in yesterday's storm. Please let us know if there are ways GSNorCal can help. Writing this Update made me proud and grateful, for all the ways that Girl Scouts prepares girls for their futures and helps make the world a better place!
- Service to others. One Warm Coat, food drives, toy drives, visits to those who have no visitors, and blankets for animal shelters. Thank you, to our troop leaders, volunteers and girls for bringing friendship and joy to others this Holiday Season.
- How Girl Scouts is helping to close the STEM gap.
- Camp Improvement Update:Outdoor Adventure – Girls' Choice badges. 40,000 girls voted for Outdoor Recreation as our first national Girls' Choice badge! Next up: girls choose the recreation category. Vote by December 31!
- Camp Butano Creek. Check out photos of the new lodge and tree house village under construction!
- Deer Lake reminder. Our High Sierra adventure camp will be on the road this summer while we conduct major forest management work at Deer Lake to improve forest health and safety.
- Portraits in leadership. Women in Congress share their leadership journeys with Girl Scouts.
Our annual campaign is underway. Thank you for investing in tomorrow's leaders!
Service to others.
One Warm Coat, food drives, toy drives, visits to those who have no visitors, and blankets for animal shelters. Thank you, to our troop leaders, volunteers and girls for bringing friendship and joy to others this Holiday Season. Shown in this photo, a Martinez Girl Scout troop that gathered new balls and Legos for “Foster a Dream’s” annual winter wonderland.
How Girl Scouts is helping to close the STEM gap.
We hear a lot about the shortage of young women and minorities entering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) professions and about the importance of having a diverse workforce ready to step into 21st Century roles. Girl Scouts is helping to close the gender and socio-economic gaps in STEM – working together with volunteers, mentors, and other organizations -- all committed to helping girls explore STEM. Last year, over 6,000 girls participated in GSNorCal STEM programs, including 3,000 who live in under-resourced communities.
Experts cite a number of reasons for the gender and socio-economic gaps and recommend actions we can take to close the gaps:
- Growth mindset: Help girls develop a growth mindset (my November 6 Member Update talked about how Girl Scout programs and volunteers help girls build a growth mindset).
- Learn by doing: Create hands-on, collaborative learning opportunities and build critical thinking skills.
- Role models: Connect girls with role models -- real-life female scientists and engineers who defy media stereotypes and are using STEM to make the world a better place.
Earlier this week I joined leaders in education, business, museums and youth-serving nonprofits for a conversation about STEM education hosted by the San Francisco Business Times. Two members of the Space Cookies robotics team (jointly sponsored by GSNorCal and NASA Ames) spoke to the crowd about girl only hands-on STEM and demonstrated their 2014 robot. I was, as always, proud of our poised Ambassador Girl Scouts. Our breakfast conversation reinforced the important role that organizations like Girl Scouts and corporate, nonprofit and education partners play in helping to narrow the STEM and opportunity gaps.
An overview of GSNorCal STEM programs.
Four full-time staff support GSNorCal STEM programs. We work closely with corporate, nonprofit and community partners and volunteers to develop and deliver fun programs and connect girls with role-models. We include in all of our STEM programs the hallmarks of Girl Scouts: fun, learning by doing, cooperative learning and girl-led.
I encourage you to explore STEM opportunities on our website:
- Journeys and Badges – Guides and Activities. Many of the Journeys provide opportunities to explore science, technology and engineering – through hands-on activities and field trips to local parks, museums and tech companies. Our STEM team has developed guides that recommend STEM activities connected to Journeys. You can learn more here. Troops can also earn STEM badges and work on Journeys at Girl Scout activities that we run on site at museums and nature centers. Search on STEM in the activity finder. Then narrow your search by age level.
- Programs-in-a-box. Environmental and Engineering programs for girls in grades K-12 are available for troop leaders to check out and use with their troops. This past year, over 3,000 girls participated in hands-on activities through this STEM lending library. GSNorCal developed the engineering content in collaboration with Techbridge and with funding from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. You can learn more about Programs-in-a-box here:Grant-funded STEM programs that staff deliver in under-resourced communities. We use the STEM programs-in-a-box as the foundation for staff-led troops in afterschool programs. These 6 to 15 week programs include hands-on activities, field trips and meetings with role models. During the 2014 membership year, over 3,000 girls participated in Girl Scouts and explored engineering and environmental science through these programs, thanks to generous foundations, corporate and individual donors.
11 Active Robotics Troops. At last count, we have 11 active robotics troops in Girl Scouts of Northern California.
- 8 First Lego League (FLL). This is for girls in grades 4-8
- 1 VEX – Space Cookies 7-12 grade
- 1 FRC – Space Cookies 9-12 grade
- 1 Just for fun! - 9-12th grade
Robotics and the Maker Movement. Intel recently published research about the importance of creating opportunities for girls to "make" – to work with electronics and build things – as a pathway to engage more girls in computer science and engineering. Robotics are a great way that Girl Scout troops are exploring "making." Lego Robotics Kits are available for loan from all GSNorCal offices ($5/kit + a $100 refundable deposit).
Introducing girls to robotics. At our recent When I Grow Up career exploration day at NASA Ames, 1,200 girls and their families enjoyed hands-on activities provided by 40 partners – corporations, nonprofits, museums and educational institutions. Several Girl Scout robotics teams shared their enthusiasm. I enjoyed spending time with the Technomancers from Livermore who demonstrated robots that they designed and built – turkey bots that followed each other, a Halloween bot, a robot that searched for fire, and a cookie bot that sells Girl Scout cookies! The same weekend, also at NASA Ames, the Space Cookies High School robotics team hosted a First Lego League tournament for boys and girls – several Girl Scout teams participated, as did an East Palo Alto team that the Space Cookies mentor. You can learn more about GSNorCal robotics programs.
Robotics for all girls everywhere! We have raised funds to deliver robotics camps on University campuses and at NASA Ames as part of our Daughters of Farmworkers program, and are proud that the White House Council on Women and Girls highlighted this collaboration on page 12 of its recently released report on Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity.
"NASA-Girl Scouts Initiative for Farmworker Daughters: NASA Ames Research Center has partnered with the Northern California Girl Scouts to conduct STEM-related activities – including building robots – throughout the year. This encompasses programming geared towards farmworker daughters, many of whom are Hispanic."
- Activities and Events. Our staff team supplements troops and service units by focusing on big events that provide unique opportunities to meet role models, experience a wide range of STEM activities, and learn about career opportunities. Here are some examples:Digital cookie. New for the 2015 cookie season, girls can opt to sell cookies online in addition to traditional door to door and booth sales. This first year, girls can add features to their own webpage, while building skills in ecommerce. Future versions of Digital Cookie will include more tech program opportunities.
- 150+ STEM events advertised in our annual Program and Event Guide.Our staff team works with outside partners to offer unique STEM programs designed to incorporate the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and support fun, hands-on STEM activities – and they are not all inside and they don’t all require equipment! This picture shows the Bothin Organic Garden, which has a year round science-based curriculum.
- STEM Exploration Days. Run in partnership with tech companies, older girls attend sessions on a corporate campus, meet role models and executive leaders, learn what the company does, and participate in hands-on activities and tours. Last year, over 100 High School Girl Scouts explored STEM at LinkedIn, Facebook, eBay and Cisco. This year we have expanded Exploration Days to include girls in middle school with a program hosted by AT&T.
- Made With Code. Working with older girls and STEM mentors (including GSNorCal Board members from LinkedIn and Google), our goal is to inspire 15,000 high school girls to write their first line of code, using the Google Made With Code platform.
- When I Grow Up. This Career Exploration Day for all ages, is held in even years. Up to 1,200 girls and their families meet role models and enjoy hands-on activities led by volunteers from local museums, nonprofits, educational institutions and corporations – all with an interest in increasing the number of girls open to exploring a future in STEM. This video captures the fun of the day.
- Exploring Your Future. This conference with STEM professionals for older girls, is held in odd years. It is an opportunity for girls to ask questions about life and work in a wide range of careers that require STEM skills.
- Golden Gate Bridging – 5,000 grade 5 girls celebrate bridging with a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and celebration on Chrissy Field. It is a fun and crazy day! We always have lots of hands-on STEM activities.
- Digital cookie. New for the 2015 cookie season, girls can opt to sell cookies online in addition to traditional door to door and booth sales. This first year, girls can add features to their own webpage, while building skills in ecommerce. Future versions of Digital Cookie will include more tech program opportunities.
- Looking ahead – "Making" and the Bothin Program Center.
- Making. Girl Scouts has always been about "making" – we would like to do even more to help build girls' confidence and are exploring lots of possibilities. Here are some things GSNorCal girls are already doing on a small scale. We hope to explore ways to expand these opportunities for more girls: design and build new platforms at camp; breakdown and repair a diesel engine (that already happens with our Mariner troop); design and build motion-activated robots that sell cookies; use 3-D printers to design and produce jewelry. There are many possibilities to learn by doing with mentors and caring adults who foster a growth mindset and help girls build the confidence that comes from mastering new skills.
- Bothin Program Center. We have plans to build a flexible space at Camp Bothin (as soon as we've raised the funds) where girls can get messy, make things, host overnight robotics events and other Girl Scout programs. Click here to learn more.
Check out this photo of the lodge and tree house village under construction at Camp Butano Creek! Work is on track! We still plan to have Camp Butano Creek open for camping by mid-June! As of December 1, we have raised $47,967 through our 2014 Camp Improvement Campaign patch – just 100 patches left and $2,033 to raise to get to our $50,000 goal, so we can celebrate a tree house cabin on our 2015 patch!!
Deer Lake reminder. Our High Sierra adventure camp will be on the road this summer while we conduct major forest management work at Deer Lake to improve forest health and safety. Click here for the member update with more information about this project.
Outdoor Adventure – Girls' Choice badges.
Between October 31 and November 30, 2014, 40,000 girls voted on one of the themes below for the next set of national outdoor badge topics. Outdoor recreation was the top choice! Girls of all ages voted, with Brownies and Juniors casting 67% of the votes.
- Outdoor Recreation (helping girls get active outdoors) 45% top choice
- Outdoor Survival (being prepared for whatever happens outdoors) 39% top choice
- Outdoor Environment (exploring and protecting the wonders of nature) 16% top choice
Next up, girls vote for outdoor recreation badge activities. Do girls want to: challenge themselves in the outdoors, get active on or in the water, or become an outdoor explorer?
The polls will close on December 31 and one new badge for each age level will be announced March 12, 2015! Online materials for the new badges will be available in June 2015 and badges in fall 2015!
Badges will add to the fun, but you don't need to wait. All of these outdoor recreation activities exist for Girl Scouts in Northern California. You can find them through the Program and Event Guide, Summer Camp, Property Rentals and approved vendors. Here are a few examples:
- Outdoor challenges:
- Get active on the water:
- Surfing programs at Skylark Ranch and volunteer-run camp at Butano Creek
- Canoe trips in PEG Canoe trips in the Program and Event Guide (Search on "Canoe" in the Activity Finder)
- Swimming pools at Camps Bothin, Sugar Pine and Twin Canyon (Diablo Day Camp) (summer camp only)
- Mariner Scouts: "Mariner Scout Ship TRADEWIND, Girl Scouts of Northern California Council, Troop #32609, is based at the Port of Redwood City, California. Our purpose is to enable girls ranging from 8th grade through high school to participate in all facets of team building, leadership, and fun adventures involving boating and sailing. We maintain our boats ourselves with plenty of scrubbing, swabbing and polishing!"
- Outdoor Explorer:
- Troop camping and hiking at GSNorCal camp properties
- Archery at all resident camps and during the school year at Camp Bothin
- Horses at Camp Skylark Ranch and Sugar Pine
- Cave exploration at Sugar Pine
- Backpacking at Two Sentinels
- Astronomy at all resident camps, and for troops at the Bothin Program Center
- Backpacking interest groups
- Explore our camps and learn skills at work parties
Incredible outdoor opportunities happen at summer camp- mark your calendars for registration opening on Feb 1st! Explore our website to learn more about options for outdoor adventure.
Portraits in Leadership.
Women in Congress share their leadership journeys with Girl Scouts. We were inspired when Representative (and Girl Scout) Barbara Lee, visited our Alameda Office earlier this fall and sat down for an interview with Jasmine, an Oakland Girl Scout Ambassador.
Jasmine's interview was part of a nationwide project. Girl Scouts profiled women members of Congress -- both Republicans and Democrats -- to highlight their advice to girls everywhere who aspire to become leaders in their communities. Click on this link to discover what women Members of Congress have to say about the important role Girl Scouts plays in developing leadership skills in girls.
The interviews gave Girl Scouts an opportunity to ask their Members of Congress for advice about the skills and the character girls will need to develop to lead our world in the 21st Century. Seventy percent of the women in the U.S. Senate and 57 percent of the women in the House of Representatives are Girl Scout alumnae; but regardless of whether or not they were Girl Scouts, each Congresswoman spoke of the value of having an organization such as Girl Scouts to help girls develop leadership qualities.
Thank you for all that you do to help Girl Scouts continue to build tomorrow's leaders and make the world a better place! I am grateful for your gifts of time, talent and dollars. I hope you and your family enjoy a wonderful Holiday Season.