‘It’s these girls’ future:’ First Girl Scout STEM Day proves the organization is about more than selling cookies

Girl Scouts participate in creating zipper pull bracelets that represent their first name in binary code as part of the Girl Scout STEM Day at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, May 18, 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — From creating bracelets representing binary code to making rubber band cars, Girl Scouts in Southern Utah gathered at Dixie State University for a day filled with STEM-related activities.

Girl Scouts build small robotic cars as part of the Girl Scout STEM Day at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, May 18, 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

Dixie State’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology, Girls Go Digital and Girl Scouts of Utah have teamed up to get more girls in Southern Utah involved in science, technology, engineering and math. Saturday’s event was part of that team effort, where the groups held the first Girl Scout STEM Day, allowing Girl Scouts from Washington County to learn about and enjoy technology and science-related activities without feeling intimidated.

“A lot of times when girls will come to general events that we have, there will be one or two girls in the classroom,” said Cari Heizer, outreach coordinator for Dixie State’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology. “Boys will be very loud and excited, and they kind of get left behind. So when we are able to have events like this where it’s only girls, then they can really shine.”

Saturday’s activities at the Atwood Innovation Plaza were dependent on each age group: kindergarten-first grade, second-third grade and fourth-eighth grade. The higher the age group, the harder the activity was, Heizer told St. George News.

Although all girls in the community were welcome to participate, 25 Girl Scouts were the ones to participate in the activities — in turn earning badges in robotics, mechanical engineering, computer science and more during the closing ceremony.

According to the national Girl Scouts website, more than 160,000 Girl Scouts participate in STEM programs each year. The benefits of engaging in STEM include more girls considering careers in technology, taking on more leadership roles and feeling more confident in their science and math abilities.

Both the Daisy (K-first grade) and the Brownie (second-third grade) Girl Scouts made zipper pull bracelets with black and white beads, representing their first name in binary code.

Small remote control cars built by Girl Scouts as part of the Girl Scout STEM Day at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, May 18, 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

The older Girl Scouts mainly focused on creating and coding small remote control cars, as well as creating video games. Younger participants learned valuable lessons throughout the day, such as cyber security.

“This is a badge that they earned,” Heizer said, “where they learned about being safe on the internet, who you can tell personal information to.”

Art was mixed in with the activities to make them more intriguing, said Sari Jones, volunteer community representative for Dixie State’s service unit.

“We throw in some of the arts because it piques their curiosity,” Jones said. “They love hands-on activities more than just sitting in the classroom with whiteboards.”

One of the artistic activities involved younger girls using iPads to take pictures of colors outside and then using the pictures to create a giant rainbow.  They also learned how to use software such as Adope Capture to create stickers from photos they took inside the Atwood Innovation Plaza’s makerspace.

Heizer said Dixie State will continue to look at other ways to involve girls in the community in STEM, including hosting other sessions in the upcoming year, such as sessions on biology, biochemistry and entrepreneurship.

When it comes to STEM, Jones said “it’s these girls’ future.”

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Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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