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Girl Scouts will explore the science frontier

19zoscouts - Maria Huang, a Sudbury Brownie, participated in the Space Science Badge pilot program this past year. (Helen Huang)
Helen Huang
Maria Huang, a Sudbury Brownie, participates in the Space Science Badge program.

For Girl Scouts across the region, the upcoming school year signals the start of new opportunities to explore interests, develop skills, and earn badges — including 30 new ones.

The new badges build proficiencies in subjects such as space science, cyber security, environmental stewardship, mechanical engineering, robotics, and more. One also helps girls navigate the college application process.

With the new additions, there are now about 200 badge programs available to Girl Scouts across Massachusetts and the country.

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“If you can see it, you can be it,” said Carrie Weatherbee, chief membership services officer for Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, echoing what has become the group’s 21st century catchphrase.

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Weatherbee said many of the new badges allow girls to explore fields in science, technology, engineering, and math, which are underrepresented by women.

“There’s a need for women in STEM fields, which led to these programs,” Weatherbee said. “Our national pledge is to engage 2.5 million girls in STEM programming, including badges, by 2025.”

The new badges are geared to every age group in Girl Scouting, from 5-year-old Daisies to 18-year-old Ambassadors.

The Environmental Stewardship badge, for example, prepares girls in grades 6 through 12 to become environmental advocates by addressing problems, seeking solutions, and protecting nature.

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The Mechanical Engineering badge provides opportunities for Girl Scout Juniors — fourth- and fifth-graders — to design paddle boats, cranes, and balloon-powered cars, and to learn about kinetic energy, jet propulsion, and other engineering principles.

The Space Science badge, in partnership with NASA, teaches girls from kindergarten through fifth grade about space research, including how astronomers conduct investigations.

The new badge programs also include a College Knowledge badge for 11th- and 12th-grade Girl Scouts. This is the first badge dedicated to exploring post-high school education, including the admissions process and financial aid.

What hasn’t changed since Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts of the USA in 1912 is the organization’s mission: to foster independence, competency, and leadership in a spirit of friendship and community.

“The results are proven. Girls who participate in Girl Scouts are more than twice as likely to exhibit community problem-solving skills than girls who don’t [57 percent versus 28 percent],” according to a statement from the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, citing a 2017 Girl Scout Impact Study.

Hattie Bernstein can be reached at hbernstein04@icloud.com.