The Girl Scouts (GS) of America do not currently have any nationally recognized patches for nuclear science and technology. However, they do have the ability to do locally based patches. As a result, some places have established local Girl Scout patches. For the Cadet and Senior aged girls (the same age as the Boy Scouts), typically the Boy Scout Merit Badge workshop is done.
This document outlines a workshop targeted at Juniors, girls who are ages 8-11. Because of the younger audience, the workshop is shorter and at a more general level. This guide demonstrates one way to host such a workshop. The structure of this program will hopefully make it easy for the user to use whichever stations and ideas are the most sensible for them.
Because these patches are done locally, there are no official requirements. At the University of Wisconsin, we took our program to the GS Council in our area and let them define requirements based on what we were intending to do. We were able to work with them so that they could get things into a form that worked for them.
I encourage you to contact your GS Council and define a program that best fits your needs. It is a good idea to build in some flexibility in case your facilities or resources change in the future. The workshop outlined below is about 3.5 hours long. Feel free to change the time and activities to meet your needs.
An important first step is ensuring that you have attendees for your event. We have had no problem generating interest in our Junior level workshop. There are not many Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) type programs for this age group, but there are many scouts. For this reason we have had very high interest. When we first introduced the program we went to a GS council meeting and explained what the patch was all about. The mothers in attendance then told their troop leaders about the program. We have sold out (60 scouts/workshop) the three workshops we have held since that time.
I would suggest contacting your council and asking if you can do a similar presentation. Be aware that councils will often publish one book per year advertising all of the upcoming events. Check what the timeline is for your council's publications and work with them to make sure you send announcements with enough lead-time. Typically, the GS council will also handle event registration. Tell them the information that needs to be collected, and by when you need to have it. You may want to charge a fee for the workshop, depending on the cost of your supplies, fundraising needs, etc. Be sure to check if your council adds an additional fee for the workshop (ours does).
The scouts can be asked to bring a sack lunch if facilities for providing or purchasing lunch are not available. Due to space or other constraints, you may need to set a cap on the number of participants. Be sure to include parents in your count. Many will not plan to attend, but some will want to be there. The participation of parents can be good because they help keep the scouts under control and they learn a lot during the day. However, be aware of adults "taking over"; the day is still for the girls.
Unlike the Boy Scout merit badge (and/or the Cadet and Senior GS program), the Juniors program does not require homework.
Set a registration time 30 minutes before your workshop begins. This will give you time to collect registration fees (if applicable), provide some cushion time for arrival, and allow everyone to get settled before the workshop begins. If you have a small number of scouts (<15) registered, you can run this program straight through. However, if you have more scouts, you will need to break them into multiple groups. It is helpful to pre-assign the groups (roughly by troop) ahead of time and tell everyone which group they are in during registration. Doing this ahead of time ensures you can control group size and that each troop can stay together. It also avoids some chaos at the outset. All scouts will be together for the opening session, but rotate through the five stations in their groups. This guide contains a presentation suitable for the opening session along with the material required to run the various stations. An example schedule of the day is included, gs_schedule.xls. Note, in this schedule we held two workshops in one day. We found that two volunteers per station were adequate.
Begin by introducing yourself and the other workers and give an outline of the day. A PowerPoint presentation entitled juniors_opening.ppt has been created to guide you through this session. The introduction goes over some background terms with which they should be familiar, and introduces three famous female nuclear scientists. All of this only takes about 20 minutes; anything longer is too much sitting for this age group. At the end of the introduction session tell each group which station they go to next and have a volunteer guide them there.
Each station takes about 30 min. At UW that was not quite enough time for the reactor tour, so you may want to consider this. We allowed 5 min between each station for cushion and transition time. At the end of each station, have the volunteer in charge of said station tell the scouts where to go next. Adapt as needed based on your setup.
Have volunteers talk about what they do and why throughout each station. Have them try to give a few interesting details about themselves; think of the mini-interviews of "hot" celebrities that can be found in magazines targeted at this age group. This style of interaction helps the girls see themselves in STEM careers by making the volunteers "real" people with "normal" interests.
Other stations that you can switch in for any of the above depending on what resources you have and what works best for your group (compliments of Southern Cal Edison's WIN chapter via Sarah Kleeb):
During this time get everyone back in the same room, thank them for coming, and hand out patches. An idea to help figure out what worked and what didn't work is to create surveys about the day to hand out to the adults. This can provide some good guidance since the parents know the girls and can give a good assessment of what was interesting, etc.
Good luck, and if you have any questions refer to Cloud Chamber "How-To" Tips or contact Ms. Rachel N. Slaybaugh.
You can download all of the additional resources in one zip archive (gs_juniors_program.zip), or download individual files below.
Last updated September 19, 2013, 7:35am CDT.