Girl Scouts of the USA have always learned to be good citizens of this planet, but now they are aiming a little higher. Your favorite cookie sellers have teamed up with the SETI Institute for a five-year program called Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts. While the program, which is funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and led by the SETI Institute, won’t train the bright minds of the future in the art of searching for intelligent life in the universe (unless they plan on showing Contact at the next Girl Scout Jamboree), it will hopefully encourage a lifelong love of science, tech, engineering, and math (STEM). According to a study by the Girl Scout Research Institute, while girls say STEM fields are interesting, only 13% would choose a career in STEM, and only one-third have participated in STEM activities outside school. Meanwhile, 57% say that if they went into a STEM career, they’d have to work harder than a man to be taken seriously. Hence the need for a STEM program aimed at young women.
As with many aspects of the Girl Scouts, learning is driven by competition and a burning desire to earn more badges than the kid sitting next to you at the campfire. To that end, the new Reaching for the Stars program coincides with the creation of the Girl Scouts’ first-ever Space Science badges. The new badges will be available for girls at every Girl Scout grade level, from kindergarten to 12th grade (or Daisies to Seniors, in scout parlance). While the badges are still being focus grouped, by 2019, starry-eyed Girl Scouts will be able to earn badges in NASA’s space sciences: astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics.
The program is a natural fit for the Girl Scouts as their current CEO, Sylvia Acevedo, is a rocket scientist who once worked for NASA’s famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It’s not just Acevedo, either. As SETI notes, many female astronauts in the U.S. are Girl Scout alumnae. No word yet on whether they’ll try to sell Thin Mints to alien life-forms.
Want to sign up your future astronaut? Visit www.girlscouts.org/join.