Two local high-school Girl Scouts from Girl Scouts of Gateway Council recently participated in astronomy training at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Senior Girl Scouts Mai Trog and Melanie Wondracek completed the intensive weeklong space science training at the NASA center in June. The girls had the opportunity to connect with NASA scientists and gain insight on how to start their own astronomy club within the local council. The experience will aid the girls in their STEM and aerospace interests and aims to help integrate these interests into programs throughout the Gateway Council.
Gateway Council, comprised of 16 counties around Northeast and North Central Florida, offers several robust astronomy programs to Girl Scouts in middle and high school. With the NASA astronomy program, Girl Scouts and Girl Scout volunteers involved in the selective space science training are able to expand STEM offerings throughout the council.
National data shows that only 24% of scientists and engineers are women, but a Girl Scout impact study found that girls involved in Girl Scouting are more likely (60%) than non-Girl Scouts (35%) to participate in STEM. The upcoming Girl Scout membership year will see an increase in STEM opportunities through the Astronomy Club. Gateway Council will offer at least one astronomy program per month for Junior, Cadette, Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, such as:
- Star Girls: This program teaches girls how the movement of the stars and constellations relate to the seasons and how to search the sky with a telescope.
- Moon Girls: The most popular visual astronomy program in which girls learn to use a telescope to view the moon and constellations, learn about dark spots, how craters form and understand why the moon changes from day to day.
- Planet Girls: Girls become experts on the planets in our solar system and how our solar system is formed.
- Sun Girls: Girls will have the chance to experiment with a new model demonstrating how mass of stars, like the sun, plays a role in the space-time continuum in our solar system.
- Girls Go To Mars: In this interactive program, Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors use the scientific method to conduct hands-on investigations of planetary development, the accumulation of the atmosphere and how it impacts Earth, and the effects water features observed on Mars have on the retention of the atmosphere over time.
Girl Scouts involved in the astronomy club will have the opportunity to meet other girls with similar passions and participate in STEM experiences beyond what they learn in school – truly creating a girl-led, girl-focused program. High-school Girl Scouts will have the opportunity to become astronomy-trained Program Aides to help lead programs for younger girls.