May 8, 2013
Alongside their babysitter and gardener badges, Los Angeles Girl Scouts will soon be able to show off a video game design patch.
Partnering with Women in Games International, the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles plans to launch the new patch in the upcoming school year. Among the more than 40,000 Girl Scouts in Los Angeles, they will be focusing on 4th to 6th graders and offering workshops in video game design.
The goal is to encourage girls to consider STEM careers. In fact, the LA Girl Scouts have a variety of STEM programs, from robotics competitions called Robots and More! to Imagine Your Future in STEM events at California Polytechnic to lessons about astronomy.
In the beginning, the video game patch will only be available in Los Angeles. If all goes well, it could expand to other cities and eventually be added to the Girl Scouts of the USA official badges, which already include techy badges like Computer Expert, Digital Photographer, Product Designer, Digital Moviemaker, and Website Designer.
Below, chief external relations officer Carol Dedrich talks more about encouraging young girls in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Tech Cocktail: How did this patch come about?
Carol Dedrich: It speaks to a larger cause, which is for all of us to get involved in helping girls understand STEM careers, and this is one such career that a lot of girls don’t have an understanding of and they’re not aware of. So this patch program gives girls the chance to explore all the elements involved in the game industry, to include not only the technical aspect of actually programming the game but the technical aspect of design and creativity associated with the planning of putting together a game, as well as the marketing component of the game industry.
Tech Cocktail: What has the response been so far?
Dedrich: They’re very excited. As girls, they just want to try things out. And when we can bring opportunities like this to them, it’s very exciting, because they haven’t done anything like this before. So it’s new and it’s fresh. They’re like sponges – they just try it out and many of them are finding that they never thought math or science could be so much fun, or that it could drive you in a direction that could be really interesting and creative.
Tech Cocktail: Why are STEM programs important for girls?
Dedrich: Through the education system, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for girls to explore various career fields and to really have experiential learning opportunities – not just in a classroom, but actually getting to build and design something. That is much more tangible, and helps in the learning process to inspire and excite a young person into going into a particular field. . . .
This is our way of helping our young people to explore an area that is primarily dominated by men (and for a lot of good reasons). We are trying to expose girls to these various opportunities so that they can see that this is something they could do and this is something they could be.
Quite frankly, if you can’t see it, you really can’t dream it or be it. And there’s not a lot of ex’s of women in these fields, and so we don’t have a lot of examples for girls to see it. So this is our opportunity to bring those few women to a mass of girls and have them explore this opportunity, so that then they can see it and possibly want to be it.
Tech Cocktail: And why are STEM programs for girls important more broadly?
Dedrich: It’s really important for organizations like the Girl Scouts to focus on these opportunities so that the generations coming up are prepared for the future. And the future holds a lot of technology. Twenty years ago, it took years for something to come onto the market. Today, what is it – months, weeks, days, in some cases? Are we really preparing our youth to take on the challenges of tomorrow and what the technology’s going to provide?
A lot of companies are going outside the United States to find that talented workforce, when we have the talent right here. We just haven’t exposed them to these fields to give them an understanding that this is something that they can do. Not only can they do it, but they’ll want to do, and that’s why Girl Scouts is stepping in.
The majority of female astronauts grew up as Girl Scouts, and had their first exposure in Girl Scouting, so STEM has been a part of Girl Scouting for many, many, many years.
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