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Girl Scouts add STEM Badges

They can earn merit badges for community service, first aid, hiking, and car maintenance. Now, some 1.6 million Girl Scouts of the USA will be able to qualify for a new set of badges – focused on science, technology, engineering, and math.

The 23 STEM badges represents the largest programming roll-out in nearly a decade. The Girls Scouts partnered with such organizations of and the Society of Women Engineers to develop the new badges, which will focus on such activities as programming robots, going on environmentally conscious camping trips, and developing novel bridges. The badges fall into three major themes: Think like and Engineer, Think like a Programmer, and Think like a Citizen Scientist.Some of the badges introduce kindergarten and first graders to robotics and engineering. Older scouts will learn about artificial intelligence and how to formally present their work.

A 2016 Girls Scouts report described myriad benefits of Girl Scouts STEM programs for girls, including increased confidence and interest in pursuing STEM as well as different opportunities to display leadership, for example as the go-to troubleshooter on a FIRST Robotics team. According to the organization’s 2017 Impact Study, Girl Scouts are almost twice as likely as non-Girl Scouts to participate in STEM (60 percent versus 35 percent) and outdoor activities (76 percent versus 43 percent).

The new STEM badges join a set of cybersecurity badges that the Girl Scouts launched a month ago.

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