Opening the Door for Future Leaders in STEM!

From computer forensics labs and medical simulations to the great outdoors, Girl Scouts of Orange County is delivering mind-blowing STEM experiences to young women who may not have realized that science, technology, engineering and math impact almost everything they do in their daily lives. Through the My STEM Life Badge, one of the first STEM badges in the nation, Girl Scouts of Orange County is opening the door to a multitude of exciting careers.

Saachi, a 9th grader from Girl Scout Senior Troop 990 in Irvine, completed her My STEM Life badge in July, which included a visit to the Kaiser Simulation Lab where female doctors demonstrated emergency room scenarios.  She discovered how every element of STEM is involved in the daily activity of saving lives.

“Originally, I thought only science and technology were necessary for doctors to save a patient’s life, but now I realize that the engineering of equipment and the mathematics behind procedures are also integral in the ER,” said Saachi.

Girl Scouts learning STEM at the Kaiser Simulation Lab including emergency room scenarios.

An exemplar to other Girl Scout councils across the country, Girl Scouts of Orange County began focusing on STEM in 2015 with the introduction of the My STEM Life badge for Girl Scout Cadettes through their vibrant partnership with local companies such as Broadcom, Western Digital, and Cox Communications, to name a few.  Called the Girl Scouts of Orange County STEM Consortium, these leading STEM companies wanted to debunk the myth that boys are “better” in these subjects and pave the way for young women in Orange County to get excited about and stick to STEM subjects in school.

Together with the STEMsational ME! badge for Girl Scout Juniors, almost 3,000 Girl Scouts have now earned one of Girl Scouts of Orange County’s STEM badges; a staggering amount of young women who have gained insight into how STEM impacts their lives and especially the community they live in.

“My motto is ‘if you see it, you can be it.’ Both of our Council’s Own STEM badges meet girls where their interests are through engaging girl-led experiences,” said Vikki Shepp, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Orange County. “Because of Broadcom and the Girl Scouts of Orange County STEM Consortium, Orange County Girl Scouts are exploring STEM in new ways and learning that science, technology, engineering, and math are important parts of who they are.”

Serena, a 6th grade Girl Scout Cadette from Troop 3385 in Irvine, visited Google where she designed her own emoji (a happy face with glasses if you were wondering). Then, she made her own Gif (a unicorn dancing under a disco ball) where she learned coding.

“I would love to work at Google; coding was really fun, especially when we worked together in groups and were able to be more creative.  I like it better than just listening,” said Serena.

Google Fiber hosted 15 Girl Scout Cadettes who coded using MadewithCode.org, watched a video on programming special effects in the Wonder Woman movie, and then toured Google offices.

Girl Scouts of Orange County was sure on to something! Following suit, the national organization Girl Scouts of the USA recently released 30 new STEM and outdoor badges available to girls across the country in K-12 grade with topics that include Robotics, Mechanical Engineering and Space Science.

“While women hold nearly half of all US jobs, we account for only 24 percent of STEM jobs. If the US is going to keep up with the increasing demand for STEM-educated workers, we must increase the number of women working in STEM fields,” said Shepp.  “Girl Scouts is accomplishing this by nurturing girls’ natural interest in STEM at every age level. Through vital programs like STEM badges, girls learn how they can use STEM to help their community, improve their world, and build a brighter future for us all.”

Vikki’s mantra of ‘Seeing it to Be it’ is bearing fruit in Orange County,” says Paula Golden, President of Broadcom Foundation.  “Companies like ours recognize the Girl Scouts of Orange County as a vital part of the STEM learning pipeline in our region.”

“Before this experience, I was planning on pursuing a career in business or marketing.  After being exposed to this simulation lab and seeing what this career path has to offer, I feel as though I have a greater understanding of the medical field,” said Saachi. “This opportunity has opened my eyes to more options, and I can definitely see myself pursuing STEM activities in school and in Girl Scouts.”

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Broadcom Foundation’s “We Salute” series profiles noteworthy partners that are changing the game in STEM education.