Editor's note: this blog was originally posted on Brookhaven National Laboratory's website.
UPTON, NY—The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory has collaborated with the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County to organize a new patch program that encourages Girl Scouts of all ages to delve into the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Starting today, Suffolk County Girl Scouts can earn three new Brookhaven Lab patches.
“We are excited to champion this effort with the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County as Brookhaven Lab has so many opportunities to inspire girls to explore science and pursue careers in STEM,” said Gail Mattson, Director of strategic project deployment at Brookhaven Lab. “As a lifetime member and former National Board Director of the Girl Scouts, I attribute much of my success as an engineer and leader to what I learned in scouting.”
Each of Brookhaven’s three new patches is targeted towards a specific age group, but they all require scouts to learn, explore, and share. The youngest group, Daisies and Brownies, are taught how to make scientific observations, use their senses to discover something new, and collect data. Juniors and Cadettes are focused on learning the scientific method and the engineering-design process, while Seniors and Ambassadors follow paths to careers in STEM.
Brookhaven and the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County celebrated the new patch program with a launch event on Thursday, Sept. 12. Elected officials, Girl Scouts of Suffolk County’s Board of Directors, Girl Scouts of Suffolk County President Yvonne Grant, Girl Scout “shooting stars,” and Brookhaven Lab staff gathered at the Lab’s Science Learning Center to kick off the program. Following remarks from key speakers, local girl scouts had the opportunity to start earning a Brookhaven Lab patch by interacting with Brookhaven scientists and participating in STEM activities.
Girl Scouts and Brookhaven Lab
As part of Brookhaven’s commitment to encourage young women towards STEM careers, the Lab’s Office of Educational Programs (OEP) has a history of collaboration with local Girl Scout troops. In years past, OEP has hosted STEM days at the Lab that introduced Girl Scouts to the science being done at Brookhaven Lab through hands-on activities. OEP has also run outdoor science programs at Girl Scout summer camps, such as teaching the scouts how to collect environmental samples and study them using microscopes.
“Our collaborative relationship with the Girl Scouts has been progressive,” said Bernadette Uzzi, supervisor of OEP’s K-12 programs and former Girl Scout leader. “Our staffing resources alone cannot meet the demand of the large number of girls who are eager to participate in STEM activities. To overcome this challenge and reach a broader group of young women, several years ago we decided to train the Girl Scouts’educational staff on our Lab’s activities and, to this day, they incorporate those activities into their programs.”
Following the success of the training program, the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County approached Brookhaven with the idea of starting a new patch program that resembled the structure of their other partnerships but emphasized opportunities to interact with the Lab and STEM in general.
“We are delighted to partner with Brookhaven National Laboratory as we unveil this unique and exciting patch program,” says Yvonne Grant, President & CEO for Girl Scouts of Suffolk County. “We believe that offering innovative opportunities in STEM will foster an interest in these career paths for girls.”
If the new patch program runs successfully over the next year, Brookhaven is eager to work with the Girl Scouts of the USA to roll the program out nationally with a broader focus on women in STEM across the DOE complex.
Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.