Educator Features

NASA Supports Girl Scouting
12.01.05
NASA staff and GSUSA trainers interact with young Girl Scouts in front of a NASA Mars exhibit
NASA does more than send astronauts to the international space station. One of NASA's Education Strategy goals is to improve the public's understanding and appreciation of science, and broaden participation in the science and technology workforce. Girl Scouts of the United States of America shares that goal, and the GSUSA national conference in October was part of the effort to help both organizations achieve that goal.

Image to left: NASA staff and GSUSA trainers help young Girl Scouts imagine themselves on another world. Credit: NASA

The adult leaders in GSUSA and NASA are joining forces to promote an interest in science. After all, they reason, today's Girl Scouts are tomorrow's explorers. At the conference, NASA's aim was to make more of the Girl Scout leadership aware of the NASA-GSUSA relationship and familiarize them with the programs available for their councils.

A group of Brownie Girl Scouts laugh as they lie on the floor and let a simulation Mars rover roll over them
Image to right: Brownie Girl Scouts have a close encounter with the roll-over simulation Mars rover. Credit: NASA

Many educators are familiar with the acronym STEM, short for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. NASA wants to increase the number of students who excel in STEM programs. One way to achieve that is to meet students in areas that already have their interest. Girl Scouts is one of those forums. GSUSA encourages girls of all ages to set and attain ambitious goals for their futures. What better way than to offer fun, concrete examples of STEM careers? GSUSA does this through its relationship with NASA and its broader "Girls Go Tech" program.

GSUSA offers a number of ways for girls to find and participate in programs including targeting underserved populations such as low-income, multi-lingual, rural and special-needs communities. NASA, in turn, provides activities that offer fun ways to learn more about key concepts like math, science, space and technology. This exposure helps girls from all parts of our society see that achieving lofty goals is achievable.

Three women wearing bright pink T-shirts watch as their conference passports are stamped while a man and a woman look on
Image to left: Adult Girl Scout members learned about NASA space science hands-on activities to take back to their local councils. Credit: NASA

There are currently 2.9 million girls and 986,000 adult members of Girl Scouts. The structure provided by GSUSA allows programs to reach a large number of girls. NASA and GSUSA have developed a Memorandum of Understanding through which the two organizations work together to achieve common goals: motivating and encouraging girls to do their best. NASA's presence at the convention, which was attended by over 17,000, provided an opportunity for both leaders and girls to experience fun, hands-on STEM activities and learn how to use them to inspire others to enjoy science.

Astrobiologist Pamela Conrad stands next to a Girl Scout flag in the snowy landscape of Antarctica
Image to right: Astrobiologist and former Girl Scout Dr. Pamela Conrad, shown here in Antarctica, spoke at the conference to over 300 adults and girls about choosing STEM as a career. Credit: NASA

GSUSA realizes that the girls can be effectively served only with well-trained and educated adult leaders. Nine members of a national cadre of NASA-trained GSUSA trainers and staff were on-hand to share their enthusiasm and experience in bringing earth and space science topics to councils and girls. This broadens the opportunity for NASA and adult Girl Scout representatives to collaborate on the best methods of reaching and educating girls. Together, the organizations will develop effective STEM events for girls, and at the same time, educate the representatives of both groups on what it takes to make it all come together.

Related Resource
Girl Scouts of the United States
+ View site

Maggie Griffin/NASA Educational Technology Services