Girl Scout Team Places at World LEGO Robotics Championship

Girl Scout Team Places at World LEGO Robotics Championship

Girl Scouts are pioneers when it comes to innovation, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Newton Busters, a team from Wilmette, Illinois, earned 10th place at the FIRST LEGO League World Championships earlier this year in St. Louis.

“Getting to the world championships was really cool,” said Yara Goldina, a 16-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador. “There were a lot of teams and they were all pretty advanced, so it was really interesting to see all of the different robots and strategies. It was also our first time getting to far in FTC and because we’re only a second-year team, I thought it was really cool that we go through to the last level and performed pretty well.”

Teammate Simone Wall, a 17-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador, agreed.

“I really enjoyed my experience. The days were long and tiring, but in a good way,” she shared. “It was interesting to see all of the creative solutions people came up with and to talk to them about their design and how they came up with it. It was also fun to meet teams from others countries – some of them spent almost 24 hours traveling just to make it to St. Louis.”

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The four-day event featured more than 15,000 students from 33 countries. In preparation for the competition, the Newtown Busters team performed driving tests for their robot and held meetings to practice their presentation.

“We focused a lot on testing robot components this year to improve them,” said Athena Zheng. “We mainly tested our robot for any imperfections in our programs, as well as revised some mechanisms of our robot to make it more efficient.”

Simone was also happy to see her design come to life.

“With Newton Busters, I was able to learn a lot more about programming, hardware design and fabrication,” she said. “It was exciting to see a design I drew out on paper become a real thing that actually worked.”

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) has sponsored more than 500 girls on teams in LEGO Robotics programming throughout the last seven years. This year, Girl Scouts LEGO Robotics program sponsored 27 teams at various levels of FIRST Robotics for a total of 140 girls.

“We’re committed to encouraging girls to embrace their imaginations and develop the creative problem-solving skills that will empower them to tackle 21st-century challenges in their communities, classrooms, careers and beyond,” said Candice Schaefer, director of program for GSGCNWI.

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The Girl Scouts LEGO Robotics program is made possible through generous funding from Exelon and additional funding from Motorola Solutions Foundation.

“What we love about the LEGO Robotics program is that it helps gets young girls interested in STEM in a really fun and creative way,” said Steve Solomon, vice president, Exelon Corporation in Chicago. “We fund programs like this one to get more young women interested STEM and thinking about careers in the energy industry. Not only does it teach them skills to build the robots, but this program teaches problem-solving, critical-thinking and team-building skills which they can use throughout their lives.”

Gloria Fountain, a Girl Scout troop leader and Newton Busters coach, couldn’t agree more.

“Girl Scouts helps our girls recognize their potential so that when they go into a male-dominated industry, they feel empowered,” she said. “At the end of the day, I’m so amazed by their journey,” said Gloria Fountain. “They start with nothing and create innovative solutions. People marvel at their presentations and it’s so amazing.”

In addition to the LEGO Robotics program, ComEd, an Exelon company, also hosts an annual Icebox Derby competition for young women.

“Girl Scouts has provided me multiple opportunities to learn about STEM,” said Athena, who has also participated in ComEd’s Icebox Derby. “In FTC, I have learned how to innovate new solutions to problems; write programs for testing; analyze date results from our test programs; create complex algorithms to complete tasks and much more.”

Newton Buster teammate and fellow Icebox Derby competitor Jasmine Wu has also enjoyed learning more about STEM through Girl Scouts.

“Girl Scouts helped me develop my love for STEM by creating and sponsoring so many programs,” Jasmine, a 16-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador, said. “In the summer of 2014, I took part in the Icebox Derby. We built a car from a fridge and raced it. My interest in STEM was furthered when we won and traveled to the national flight academy the next year.”

“Girl Scouts helped our team stay together so that we could afford to participate in FTC and les us continue to build robots and compete,” said Yara, who plans to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. “They encourage us to keep going and work hard to learn more.”

And the encouragement doesn’t stop there. Several of the girls have mentored younger Girl Scouts who’ve expressed an interest in STEM.

“I have been mentoring Girl Scout [First LEGO League] teams since fifth grade and find it so rewarding since all the girls gain so much from the experience,” said Samantha Fountain, a 15-year-old Girl Scout Senior. “Girl Scouts is the perfect place to find STEM activities to try and see if you have a passion for it.”

To learn more about the Girl Scout LEGO Robotics program, click here.

Join Girl Scouts at the Mighty Girls Expo

Join Girl Scouts at the Mighty Girls Expo

Looking for some summertime fun for the whole family? Don’t miss out on Mighty Girls, a healthy living expo at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, on June 24!

The family-friend event features healthy and delicious treats; a meet-and-greet with some of your favorite hometown teams; giveaways from health living organizations and a huge game of Quidditch! Plus, you’ll also get to make your own custom pasta snack at Barilla’s famous Lucky Penne mobile kitchen with professional chefs.

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Mighty Girls is $10 for kids and $5 for adults. Registered Girl Scouts will also receive a Mighty Girls fun patch and apparel item. Discount tickets to Chicago Fire’s evening match also available.

Register now at girlscoutsgcnwi.org/mightygirls

Girl Scouts and Randstad Partner to Empower Leaders of Tomorrow

Girl Scouts and Randstad Partner to Empower Leaders of Tomorrow

Want to learn tips and tricks to landing a summer internship or how to obtain your dream job? Join the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) for “She Succeeds: Empowering the Leaders of Tomorrow,” a special event hosted by one of the largest staffing firms in the U.S., Randstad.

The event, which takes place on Saturday, June 10, 2017 at our Vernon Hills Gathering Place, is designed to teach young women how to prepare for a career of their dreams and will feature opening remarks by Traci Fiatte, CEO, Professional and Commercial Staffing, at Randstad US and GSGCNWI board member, and a keynote address by Kelley O. Williams, CEO and co-founder of Paige & Paxton Elementary STEM Curriculum.

Williams has led nationally recognized STEM pipeline initiatives designed to introduce girls to the field of technology. She also achieved notable recognition for her contributions and success including awards such as “Crain’s Chicago Business 20 in their 20s” and the Porsche “Power 30 under 30”.

To further discuss the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), we chatted with Fiatte and Williams to learn more about their careers and how girls can start planning for success today.

How are you making STEM more accessible for girls and children of color?

Kelley O. Williams: In addition to actively recruiting families with girls and diverse children for our programming and online community, one of the ways that we attract and make STEM education more accessible and inclusive to girls is through storytelling.

Storytelling was the medium that my mom leveraged to make science and math real and relevant to my sister and me. It is still the hallmark of our methodology. Paige & Paxton content, curricula and events are all based on the characters and storylines from the Paige & Paxton book series. The puzzle piece characters are doing the same things as children, having the same experiences, asking the same questions and finding the answers in STEM, which they discover is an integral part of the world in which they live. Storytelling is a powerful way to introduce STEM concepts and careers through a gender inclusive childhood lens while cultivating early STEM interest and awareness that will follow girls throughout their educational career.

Why do you think it’s important for every child, especially girls, to learn about STEM?

Traci Fiatte: The older we get, the less opportunity there is to try new things. And by high school, many kids feel established and may be intimidated to jump into something different. Imagine high school soccer tryouts. Most of the kids vying for a spot on the team have been playing since they were young. Someone just learning how to play will likely feel overwhelmed and may not bother trying out. The same can be true for extracurricular clubs, activities and curriculum. Having early exposure creates confidence, and that confidence can translate into career paths, hobbies and higher engagement in class.

STEM subjects, in particular, are important to introduce early. The most difficult occupations to fill today are in STEM fields because there is a shortage of qualified people to fill the open jobs. As every industry becomes increasingly reliant on technology, STEM specialists will be in even higher demand in the future. Today, STEM fields are traditionally male dominated. That’s changing, but we still have a long way to go. The earlier young women recognize their affinity to STEM subjects, and the fewer obstacles they encounter, the better the environment will be for them when they enter college and beyond.

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What are some of the challenges women face in STEM careers and how can we prepare girls for success?

Kelley O. Williams: One of the biggest challenges that women face in getting interested and remaining in STEM careers is unconscious bias. It begins in early childhood when parents and teachers assume that girls are “naturally” better at reading and boys “naturally” better at math. It occurs when we compliment young girls for being pretty and young boys for being smart. It occurs in the toy aisle when toys that are “designed” for boys tend to encourage more spatial intelligence development, while toys for girls encourage developing social intelligence.

The best that we can do for our girls to prepare them for success is to check our biases. We need to encourage girls to take active roles in STEM education experiences, even when they may be hesitant to try. We need to be mindful of how and what we praise girls for and how we provide them with feedback. Most importantly, we need our girls to see diverse examples of mathematicians, scientists, and engineers so that they know that being a girl in STEM is not an exception to the rule.

To learn more, or to register for the event, please visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Girl Scouts Honor Civic and Corporate Leaders at Tribute to Achievement Dinner

Girl Scouts Honor Civic and Corporate Leaders at Tribute to Achievement Dinner

It’s been said it takes a village to raise a child and on Thursday, March 16, 2017, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana honored three leaders of that village and the impact they’ve had on young women.

This year’s Tribute to Achievement honorees were: Luminary Award: Cheryl Burton, anchor at ABC7; ToGetHerThere Award: Carole Segal, co-founder of Crate and Barrel; Corporate Appreciation Award: Deloitte, accepted by Carl Allegretti, Chicago managing partner.

The council’s premier fundraising dinner, which was held at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, raised more than $650,000 in support of programming that prepares girls to be go-getters, innovators, risk-takers and leaders.

According to the latest State of the Girls report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, more girls are living in poverty today than they were 10 years ago and girls from low-socioeconomic backgrounds face considerable challenges that affect their health, happiness and achievement.

“For girls, growing up has never been more complicated. But there is a silver lining,” said Nancy Wright, CEO of GSGCNWI. “Research shows that girls thrive in places where their academic achievement is supported by activities such as Girl Scouts, which enhances their learning and skill development.”

During the event, select Girl Scouts shared testimonials about how the organization has improved their confidence, exposed them to a variety of leadership and educational opportunities and inspired them to give back to others.

“Through my involvement as a girl representative on the Girl Scout Board of Directors, as well as a myriad of other experiences I have had as a Girl Scout, I know that my voice matters,” said Aleena Ismail, a 17-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador, at the opening of the event. “My actions matter. I know that even one person can make a difference.”

To view event highlights and learn more about how you can get involved in Girl Scouting, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Girl Scouts and Women’s Energy Summit Partner for Girl Power-Get Energized

Girl Scouts and Women’s Energy Summit Partner for Girl Power-Get Energized

Our girls had an electrifying time with the Women’s Energy Summit at the Illinois Institute of Technology recently.

 

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Girl Scouts from our after-school GirlSpace program and local troops participated in Girl Power-Get Energized!, which featured energy- and electricity-based activities with female professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Participants also learned about fun and interesting careers with an interactive panel.

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Women with a variety of backgrounds shared personal and professional advice about what it takes to become successful in STEM; how to achieve work-life balance; the importance of grit and how to follow your passion.

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Many thanks to the Women’s Energy Summit and the Illinois Institute of Technology for planning such a wonderful event and to all of the volunteers for donating their time.

To learn more about Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s upcoming programs and events, click here.

Celebrate the Girl Scouts’ Birthday By Giving Back

Celebrate the Girl Scouts’ Birthday By Giving Back

To celebrate 105 years of Girl Scouting, we’re giving back to the community.

Join us on March 12 at our Vernon Hills Gathering Place or March 14 at our Merrillville Gathering Place for this year’s Girl Scout Birthday Bash and service project to support newborn babies.

Bring a much-needed newborn item with you and receive an additional fun patch for your participation. Suggested donation items include clothing, non-perishable formula, bottles, and toys.

You can earn your Girl Scout Way badge, eat cake, and celebrate your favorite activity – Girl Scouts!

If you can’t attend the Birthday Bash, you’re more than welcome to work on the project on your own or with your troop.

For more information, click here and to learn about all of your programs and events visit gcnwiprograms.org.

Be Bold for Change on International Women’s Day

Be Bold for Change on International Women’s Day

Where would the world be without women?

It’s safe to say it would be a different place. Women have improved society and made their mark through their advancements, industriousness and inventiveness throughout time.

Would we be able to enjoy today’s technology without programming the first computers? Would 3,000 police officers have been saved from bullet wounds through the use of equipment reinforced with Kevlar? Would modern beauty and lifestyle brands be as successful if not for the the cutting-edge marketing of early entrepreneurs?

One thing is certain. Without women, there wouldn’t be Girl Scouts.

More than 100 years ago, a woman named Juliette Gordon Low saw fit that all girls should have a safe space to be themselves – a place where they could discover their strengths, passions and talents. And that place was (and still is!) Girl Scouts.

Some Girl Scout alumnae who’ve gone on to achieve great success are former

Secretaries of State Madeline Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who became the first female presidential nominee of a major party. There’s also former US Attorney General Janet Reno, astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, as well as Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

These women changed the world through their actions, which is why on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, also known as International Women’s Day, we invite you take the lead like a Girl Scout and #BeBoldForChange.

While there are certainly many accomplishments to celebrate, there is still work to be done. According to staggering statistics from The State of the Girls report, more girls are living in poverty and low-income households today than 10 years ago.

This is significant because we know that these girls with a low-socioeconomic status face considerable challenges that affect their health, happiness and achievement.

But together, we can improve conditions for girls across the globe. Because when girls succeed, we all succeed.

Let us know how you plan to #BeBoldForChange by sharing your stories on social media.

With purposeful action, we can create a better world — a more equal world for women and girls.