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.

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Girl Scouts Build Solar-Powered Cookie Booth

Girl Scouts Build Solar-Powered Cookie Booth

No outlets? No problem.

After struggling to keep the lights on for their blinged-out cookie booth, Girl Scouts from Troop 60194 in Chicago had the brilliant idea to create a solar-powered, 3D-printed masterpiece to help them sell Girl Scout Cookies.

In order to make their dreams come true, the troop enlisted the help of Exelon to use STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to “build a brighter tomorrow.”

But the fun doesn’t stop there.

The troop is planning to donate 500 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies to wounded veterans in Baltimore and D.C. through the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s Gift of Caring program.

Learn more about their journey here and watch their booth-building adventure below.

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.

Girl Scouts Help Team Win ComEd Icebox Derby

Girl Scouts Help Team Win ComEd Icebox Derby

What does it mean to take the lead like a Girl Scout? Two girls from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana found out firsthand after winning the 2016 ComEd Icebox Derby as part of Team Radiant Flames.

“I was so excited and so happy that we’d won,” said Therese Jager, a 14-year-old Girl Scout Senior. “We were all jumping around and giving each other high-fives.”

One of Therese’s teammates and Sister Girl Scout, Athena Zheng, said she was speechless when she realized they’d earned first place.

“The whole event, both the build days and especially race day, was filled with thrill and excitement,” said Athena, a 14-year-old Girl Scout Senior. “I really enjoyed the part during race day when I drove because I felt proud that I had contributed toward building this amazing car. I felt a sense of exhilaration course through me as I hopped into the car, put the seat belt on and pressed the pedal to start driving!”

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Girl Scout Therese Jaeger drives her team’s icebox car

Last month, 30 girls between the ages of 14 and 18 from the Chicagoland area competed in the third annual ComEd Icebox Derby where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) advocate and ABC’s blackish star Yara Shahidi served as emcee of the event. Teams of six worked for weeks to make solar-powered race cars out of old refrigerators. In addition to Therese and Athena, Team Radiant Flames also included Morgan Jones, Taylor Clark and Tawashae Garrett, in addition to their ComEd mentors.

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ABC’s “blackish” star Yara Shahidi emceed the 2016 ComEd Icebox Derby

“The Icebox Derby is a special once-in-a-lifetime experience because it isn’t an everyday thing that girls get to construct racecars out of old, recycled refrigerators,” Athena explained. “Additionally, we gained new STEM-related skills and experiences. This included solving science problems during race day, learning what gear ratio is and creating series and parallel circuits.”

In addition to the technical skills, Athena said she also learned the power of teamwork.

“I did not know any of my teammates or mentors before Icebox Derby, but we developed a strong bond of friendship over the build days,” she said. “I believe that teamwork contributed to our win because I would have felt less confident without my teammates’ encouragement and support.”

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Members of Team Radiant Flames celebrate their victory

Meanwhile, Therese was excited to learn about circuits, use power tools and connect solar panels to the car. Both girls stressed the importance of getting girls involved in STEM at a young age.

“Because of Girl Scouts, I have had so many opportunities that I would not have otherwise had, such as participating in the Icebox Derby and First LEGO League robotics, meeting powerful women at the Executive Club luncheon and meeting with local politicians and government officials over the years through my work on various projects,” said Therese.

“I am truly grateful to ComEd for having this Icebox Derby program and I am so fortunate to have had this experience,” she continued. “I want to be an aerospace engineer someday, but I may have never known about this field or considered engineering as a career if I had not been exposed to it.”

To learn more abut the ComEd Icebox Derby, click here. For more information about our STEM programs, please visit www.girlscoutsgcnwi.org

Local Girl Scouts Recognized for Innovation as FIRST LEGO League Semi-Finalists

Local Girl Scouts Recognized for Innovation as FIRST LEGO League Semi-Finalists

When you think of LEGOs, what comes to mind?

For members of Fast Thinking Girls, a Girl Scout-sponsored team, they think of an opportunity to change the world.

The Fast Thinking Girls (GIRLS stands for: Great Intelligent Robotics Loving Science) was one of the 20 semifinalist teams selected from entries across 23 countries for their innovative solution FIRF: Food Into Renewable Fuel.

“[FIRF] will keep food out of landfills which will reduce methane in the atmosphere and reduce global warming,” said the girls from Girl Scout Troops 40915 and 40792 and Service Unit 404 in Mount Prospect, Illinois.  “It will also help people have a more convenient way to recycle food.”

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Fast Thinking Girls visit The Plant in Chicago to study a commercial digester.

The girls will be traveling from to Washington, D.C. this month to present their innovation to expert judges.  There, they will participate in a two-day hands-on event at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, aiming for the top prize of $20,000.

“We are most excited to go to Washington, D.C. for the awards ceremony and to meet the teams from other countries like Canada, Germany and Spain,” said the girls.  “Making a real prototype and getting a patent is also something we look forward to. We can’t wait to see it work!”

This was not an easy feat.  These troops completed a research project with involved working with mentors to design, build and program autonomous robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS.

“Learning the new EV3 software for our robot and understanding what anaerobic digestion [were the hardest parts],” said the team.  “It took us a long time to figure out our solution. This year’s solution is really complicated and there are a lot of pieces we still need to figure out.”

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The team meets with engineers at Underwriters Laboratories.

These girls are joining the ranks of innovators and creators who have helped the world tremendously.  Past winners created solutions like helping toddlers with hand differences learn to write and erasable bar codes to warn consumers about food spoilage.

Luckily for the girls, they had the Girl Scout skills to support them throughout their journey.

“Girl Scouts helped us learn and research about new things, helped us create, design and talk to specialists and professionals to help create our FIRF,” said the troops.  “They have also given us the tools to learn how to communicate better with my team and resolve conflict.  They have given us support every step of our journey and shown us that our ideas are important even with providing money to help us during the season.  We have taken some classes about engineering and they invited us to talk to a group of engineers about our FIRF.  We think being on a team with just girls is better.”

Want to watch the team in action? Tune in to the live stream on Wednesday, June 22 at 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET by clicking HERE!

Girl Scouts FIRST Robotics is powered by Exelon

From a Girl Scout to Troop Leader: Lessons I’ve Learned

From a Girl Scout to Troop Leader: Lessons I’ve Learned

Sitting in my Daisy troop circle, with my fingers anxiously twitching, I couldn’t wait for my turn to dip my egg in the bowl of colored water. Little did I know, that this would become the first memory I would hold of a fifteen-year Girl Scout journey.

Growing up, Girl Scouts provided me with a way to get together with my friends and participate in creative crafts and activities. The girls in my troop and I would hold sleepovers, learn dances like the Flamenco for World Thinking Day, and partake in service events like the annual Step Up for Kids Walk held in downtown Chicago. However, the older I got, the more I learned that while Girl Scouts was a program for me to make friends, it was much more a program for me to discover myself.

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At the age of 14, I completed my Silver Award project — Kits for Kids — where my team and I created and hosted a fundraiser, whose earnings allowed us to assemble and supply entertainment kits for the bedridden children of a local hospital. This opportunity showed me firsthand that I could make a direct impact — that I could and should go out and seek out issues I cared about and work to address them.

The project developed my passion for community service and, the more I reflect on it, the more I realize the number of skills that simple project helped me developed. Earning my Silver Award taught me to communicate effectively, work within a team, conduct research and outreach, and most importantly to act upon my passion to serve.

I was fortunate enough to not only be able to conduct projects, but to also attend programs, such as the 2011 National Scouts Jamboree, and the STEM overnight camp, both of which continued to foster my growth. The Jamboree was one of the first ways I was able to find myself. Going to a camp in another state with hundreds of other scouts I didn’t know, taught me the importance of taking initiative and forced me out of my shell. I was able to experience new thrills like ziplining, but was also able to become really close to people I had just met.

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My troop won an invention award at STEM camp!

The STEM overnight camp exposed me to the world of engineering and innovation, and encouraged me to mesh my quantitative and creative abilities to explore and innovate. Being a female, I wasn’t actively exposed to this field regarding innovation and technology. STEM camp made it not only acceptable, but rather commendable to be a girl and to like and excel at STEM subjects.

Near the end of my Girl Scout journey, I began reflecting on what it was ultimately that I gained from these experiences. Girl Scouts exposed me to new opportunities and engaged me in activities ranging in different fields, like STEM, with different people. Being a Girl Scout pushed me to work and communicate in teams; it challenged me with real world problems; it taught me life skills like first aid and self-defense; it encouraged me to chase my dreams and unleash my potential. Girl Scouts provided me with a safe environment to explore various fields and polish up my skill set, which has led me to serve in the versatile roles I do today. My Girl Scouts leaders and my Girl Scouts community provided me with the resources and support to empower me to become the confident and determined female I am.

However, the discovery did not stop with my experience or who I was, but rather expanded to my future abilities. Girl Scouts made me realize that I have the power and potential to foster change and to empower others.

Currently, I am a freshman at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois studying statistics and economics, with hopes of becoming an actuary in the near future. On campus, I am on a competitive Bollywood dance team, current social chair for our Women in Business organization, the Marketing and Resource Manager for an upcoming summer camp, and am spending time this quarter interning at a local start-up.

Female empowerment has now become a passion for me. It was through other females’ efforts, that I am able to uphold myself in a confident manner. Hence, the other role that I currently hold is the assistant leader for a Brownie troop of 24 girls. I took on this role because I was inspired to empower young girls. Talking to my Girl Scouts, regardless of how young they are, I can see that they are very talented with so much potential, and I have made it my mission to provide them with the resources, the time, and the motivation to help them grow, so that they can build that confidence and feel empowered enough to chase their dreams, broaden their horizons, and exceed their potential.

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Just as the mural made by my scouts above says, “Girls Can Change the World,” I hope to be one of those girls — one who inspires other girls to do the same.

A lifelong Girl Scout, Areesha Majeed is a troop leader for a second-grade Brownie troop. She is a freshman at Northwestern University pursuing a double major in economics and statistics with a minor in French. 

NIPSCO and the Girl Scouts Celebrate Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

NIPSCO and the Girl Scouts Celebrate Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

130 young girls filled NIPSCO and NiSource’s Merrillville Headquarters in celebration of Engineering Week with dozens of teams of both NIPSCO engineers and girl scouts working together to create their own devices.

This day was part of NIPSCO’s DAWN program who’s goal is to recruit, retain and accelerate the development of women at NIPSCO and serve as a voice to increase understanding and awareness of inclusion, diversity, and culture. Each of the girl scouts ranged from grades kindergarten to fifth grade and had one hour to work with NIPSCO engineers to create a device from materials provided.

“This has been the fourth year we have been doing this with NIPSCO and every time there is one thing that is always so amazing,” says Vice President of Programs and Property for the Girls Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Vicki King. “This event always embodies the true meaning of what a 1 to many mentoring model is. We serve 60,000 girls and we don’t have enough for a one on one form of mentoring. This event allows the girls to work immersively and develop a spark for engineering.”

To read the full story, visit ValpoLife.com.