Girl Scouts of Connecticut and Girl Scouts of the USA has unveiled 30 new badges exclusively for girls ages 5–18 that not only enhance the “one-of-a-kind Girl Scout experience,” but also address some of society’s most pressing needs, officials announced. The new badges will reflect achievements in areas including cybersecurity, environmental advocacy, mechanical engineering, robotics, computer science, and space exploration. It is the largest number of new badges to be simultaneously announced in recent memory. “Because of Girl Scouts and its safe, all-girl space, girls develop important skills including confidence and perseverance and set themselves up for success and to take action for a better world,” said Girl Scouts of Connecticut CEO Mary Barneby. “Today’s youth are more vocal than ever about the change they want to see, and Girl Scouts are the most equipped with the skills needed to make a real impact.”
Girl Scouts of Connecticut includes over 41,000 members, including girls and adults. The new programming for girls in grades 6–12 includes:
- Environmental Stewardship badges, GSUSA’s first-ever badge series focused on environmental advocacy. Girls in grades 6–12 prepare for outdoor experiences and take action on environmental issues. Although Girl Scouts have been advocating for the environment since the organization’s founding 106 years ago, these badges are the first to specifically prepare girls to be environmental advocates who address problems, find solutions, and protect the natural world (funded by the Elliott Wildlife Values Project).
- Badges that teach girls how to program, design, and showcase robots, completing the suite of Robotics badges GSUSA first introduced for grades K–5 last year.
- The College Knowledge badge for Girl Scouts in grades 11 and 12, the first badge completely dedicated to college exploration. By showing girls how to research the admissions process, financial aid, and other factors, the badge fills a specific need that girls asked for—and that many do not have support for outside Girl Scouts.
- Two Girl Scout Leadership Journeys: Think Like a Programmer (funded by Raytheon) provides a strong foundation in computational thinking and the framework for Girl Scouts’ first ever national Cyber Challenge, coming in 2019. The Think Like an Engineer Journey exposes girls to design thinking to understand how engineers solve problems. As with all Leadership Journeys, girls complete hands-on activities and use their newly honed skills to take action on a problem in their community. The programming aims to prepare girls to pursue careers in fields such as cybersecurity, computer science, and robotics.
Surveys indicate that 76 percent of women today wish they had learned more about leadership and had more leadership opportunities while growing up. That number indicates how imperative it is for girls and volunteers to join Girl Scouts, officials point out. The KPMG Women's Leadership Study of more than 3,000 professional and college women shows that early exposure to leadership has a significant impact on a woman’s perceptions of her ability to lead.
Girls in grades K–5 can now earn badges in:
- Environmental Stewardship, through which girls learn how to respect the outdoors and take action to protect the natural world (funded by the Elliott Wildlife Values Project).
- Cybersecurity, introducing girls to age-appropriate online safety and privacy principles, information on how the internet works, and how to spot and investigate cybercrime (funded by Palo Alto Networks).
- Space Science, enabling girls to channel their inner NASA scientist as they learn progressively about objects in space and how astronomers conduct investigations. (funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and led by the SETI Institute).
- Mechanical Engineering for Girl Scout Juniors, through which girls in grades 4 and 5 design paddle boats, cranes, and balloon-powered cars, learning about buoyancy, potential and kinetic energy, machines, and jet propulsion. Following last year’s introduction of Mechanical Engineering badges for girls in grades K–3, the addition of these badges for Girl Scout Juniors means that all Girl Scouts in elementary school can now have hands-on engineering experiences.
Content collaborators include Connecticut Science Center, Sikorsky, SWE (Society of Women Engineers), Discovery Museum, New York Academy of Sciences, NASA, Random Hacks of Kindness, The Maritime Aquarium, and Project Oceanology.