We already know that scouting is good for our mental health, but a recent announcement from the Girl Scouts shows it can be good for us in other ways too – by helping us learn how to take on some of the most urgent problems facing the world right now.
This week, Girl Scouts unveiled 30 new badges designed to "not only enhance the one-of-a-kind Girl Scout experience, but also address some of society’s most pressing needs," according to a press release from the organization. The impressive new program will see girls earning badges in cybersecurity, environmental advocacy, mechanical engineering, robotics, computer science, and space exploration, all of which sounds, well, incredibly cool and exciting, actually.
Last year saw the introduction of mechanical engineering badges for girls aged 5 to 9, as well as 18 new badges in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and data science. The new badges will build on this, expanding the Mechanical Engineering program to include older girls, and creating Space Science and Environmental Stewardship badges. Another badge will teach girls how to design, program, and build robots.
Older girl scouts will also be able to get the College Knowledge badge, specifically designed to help navigate the college experience – from the initial application process to ongoing lifelines like financial aid.
The Girl Scouts has been actively supporting girls in STEM for quite some time now, with a press release from last year boasting that "Girl Scouts are almost twice as likely as non-Girl Scouts to participate in STEM activities... and 77 percent of girls say that because of Girl Scouts, they are considering a career in technology." They have pledged to get 2.5 million girls into STEM in the next seven years.
In a 2012 study, the Girl Scouts reported that 74 percent of girls are interested in STEM subjects, but this enthusiasm is lost as they progress through middle and high school – a fact that is also borne out on the professional stage as women in STEM face discrimination and harassment in their careers. With these new badges, however, the organization hopes to change this trend.
"Whether they are fighting cybercrime, exploring how engineers solve problems, or advocating for issues affecting their community, Girl Scouts are learning how to proactively address some of the foremost challenges of today while also building skills that will set them up for a lifetime of leadership," said Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts USA, in this week's press release. "I am so proud that our new programming continues to push girls to be forward-thinking and equips them with the skills they need to make the world a better place."