THE JOY OF SCIENCE OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL
NASA program aims to inspire Girl Scout leaders and
The Girl Scouts and NASA want to
introduce more girls to the joy of science. This is the aim of a
five-part "Earth System Workshop Series" from NASA Langley Research
Center in Hampton, Va.
Dr. Arlene Levine, Outreach and
Education Manager of the NASA Langley Atmospheric Sciences
Competency and former Girl Scout, created the lecture series. This
week, Levine will lead workshops on her program and deliver the
keynote address to a Girl Scout trainers convention in New York,
headquarters of the Girl Scouts of the United States of
The workshop series focused on
different aspects of Earth science studies: atmosphere, oceans,
land, life and their interacting effects. Researchers from NASA
Langley, NASA Headquarters, the College of William and Mary, and
the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS) presented the
lectures. The demonstrations were developed by The Virginia Air and
Space Center and VIMS.
Levine came up with idea last
summer when she began to think about how to get females, a minority
in the science fields, interested in science in general, and in
particular, Earth system science.
"I was thinking about 'what could
I do to interest more girls in atmospheric sciences?'" Levine said.
"Not just to become atmospheric scientists but to be better briefed
about physical sciences and the world around them. And it suddenly
hit me that the Girl Scouts would be a wonderful vehicle."
Levine, who coordinated the
program, contacted a receptive Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast
in August 1999 and scheduled the first lecture for the following
November. The four subsequent workshops resulted in Girl Scout
Earth Day displays at the Virginia Air and Space Museum in Hampton,
By training the leaders, Levine
hopes they will be less apprehensive about going into their Girl
Scout science curriculum with the girls.
"We did these for the scout
leaders rather than for the Girl Scouts themselves," she added.
"Because we thought that we would reach more girls by training the
leaders rather than training the girls."
Troop leaders who attended the
initial lectures represent more than 16,000 girls from the Girl
Scout Council of Colonial Coast of southeastern Virginia and
northeastern North Carolina.
Levine hopes the program will
continue next year on a local and national level. Video tapes of
the programs have been sent to Girl Scout councils in West
Virginia, California, Mississippi, and Alabama.
"Having been a Brownie and Girl
Scout myself, a million years ago," Levine recalls, "I understood
that there were certain badges and requirements for science, and
the environment. My aim was and still is not to make atmospheric
scientists out of every Girl Scout, but to make science literate
citizens out of each one. And in addition, give them another avenue
to discover the joy of science, discovery and research. For some, I
hope they will be sufficiently turned on and further pursue this
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