‘More than cookies and crafts’: Girl Scouts aims to grow STEM program

Girl Scouts introduced 70 new STEM badges in 2017

Girl Scout troop leaders have spent decades encouraging young girls to explore their potential. In 2017, the Girl Scouts introduced 70 new STEM badges and over the past year, 127 girls across all age levels earned some of those badges.

Girl Scout troop leaders have spent decades encouraging young girls to explore their potential.

In 2017, the Girl Scouts introduced 70 new STEM badges and over the past year, 127 girls across all age levels earned some of those badges.

“I think Girl Scouts are so much more than cookies and crafts,” troop leader Jeni Prahler said.

Prahler said that Girl Scouts has evolved immensely since she was a kid.

“So much of what my troop does is social justice, it’s STEM, it is outdoors ... I know when I was a Girl Scout my mom was a leader and she didn’t camp,” Prahler said. “My mother had died in 2012 and that seemed like the perfect time that if I didn’t have my mom to be my buddy doing things with my daughters. It seemed like the perfect time for me to get them into Girl Scouts and to find that network for myself.”

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Prahler is passionate about encouraging young girls to explore their potential and STEM has emerged as one of Girl Scouts’ fastest-growing programs.

“They do all of the work themselves, they code the robot, they build the robot, they do all of the trial and error designing ahead of time for the robot and when we go to competition. They drive the robot. So they do all of it,” Prahler said.

Jade Jones, 10, is a First Robotics world champion.

“We’re really smart. We’re problem solvers.”

Jones has been on the world stage building robots and winning competitions.

“It is a lot of pressure, but it kind of helps because the other kids that are in the competition are really nice and they are nice to talk to you. Even though you’re competing with them and you want to win in a book and they want to win too,” she said.

Prahler is a First Robotics mentor. She has seen scouts grow into confident, assertive team members.

“I really am seeing girls coming up with solutions and ideas rather than following the lead and looking for directions,” Prahler said.

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About the Author:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism