Girl Scouts and cookies go hand in hand, but for Girl Scout Naomi, 8, it’s all about robotics.
That’s because monies raised from her troop’s cookie sales this year will go toward a robotics class. And Naomi couldn’t be more excited. Last summer, she attended a computer coding and robotics camp and is eager to learn more.
“I like to do an activity on the computer once a week, like have my mom help me research a subject we are learning about at school,” she said. “My favorite activity is coding because it's fun. I like that I can control what the results look like and I can make things look funny.”
Girl Scouts like Naomi who have an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) activities will soon have more opportunities to learn. Edison International recently provided a $10,000 grant to the Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast for their IMAGINE Your STEM Future program.
The program takes a hands-on approach to STEM learning with activities such as sustainability through gardening and engineering through LEGO robotics. The program will focus on underserved girls in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
“This generous award from Edison International will allow the council to move a variety of STEM-related developmental opportunities further into communities giving girls exposure in an environment that facilitates interest and inquiry,” said Gina Jaeger, CEO of Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast.
The U.S. Labor Department predicts that over the next 10 years, jobs in the STEM fields will grow by 17 percent. Over this same period, STEM jobs will increase three times faster than non-STEM jobs.
Yet, the number of girls and women pursuing these studies continues to be low. And it’s not due to a lack of interest. A recent study by the Girls Scouts called “Generation STEM” found that 74 percent of teen girls were interested in the STEM fields and subjects. Yet, 50 percent of these girls feel that a STEM career is not a typical path for girls.
“There's not a lack of interest in these fields among girls,” said Jaeger. “In fact, many girls actually love the sciences and technology when they get a chance to explore in fun, non-competitive practical ways.”
Naomi is one of them.
Of the 32 campers who attended last summer’s technology camp, Naomi was one of only two girls. During her first year in Girl Scouts Brownies, she earned her computer expert badge.
“I designed things on a computer, like bookmarks,” she said. “I also used Google Maps to find my house. I learned how to be safe on the Internet.”
The Girl Scouts and Edison International hope the IMAGINE Your STEM Future program will help encourage more girls like Naomi to consider the STEM fields as a future career.
“As an energy company, we recognize that STEM skills are needed for our future workforce, which includes both men and women,” said Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy & Community Investment for Southern California Edison. “We hope this grant will help prepare the Girl Scouts to excel in the areas of STEM and to promote the inclusion of underrepresented students in these academic fields.”