No one would be surprised that Girl Scouts know how the cookie crumbles, but 73 Zachary Girl Scouts have been learning about the engineering practices needed to keep houses and buildings from crumbling in an earthquake.
Service Unit 101 Engineering Day, held Nov. 3, put emphasis on STEM education and the practical applications of engineering.
Community leader Brandi Pellissier said the engineering focus was a result of feedback the national Girl Scouts program has received from participants. “One of the things that girls of all ages want to do more of is STEM activities,” she said. “Girl Scouts began introducing new STEM badges in the summer of 2017, and our girls have been very excited about them. These badges include engineering, robotics, cybersecurity, space and computer programming.”
Engineering Day was open to all Girl Scouts in the service unit, and participants ranged from kindergarten to sixth grade.
“We were very fortunate to have a lot of support from our Girl Scout parents and the community,” Pellissier said. “Lane Memorial Hospital came and met with our girls during lunch to talk about safety and first-aid kits, and Structural Engineering sponsored lunch for all of our girls and presenters.”
Each girl participated in two sessions, Pellissier said. Session A was a three-hour badge workshop with Bricks 4 Kidz. It provided Design Engineering engagement with the Daisies and Brownies (kindergarten through third grade) and Think Like an Engineer activities with the Juniors and Cadettes (fourth through eighth grade).
Bricks 4 Kidz, based in Houma, provides educational and fun programs for children. Participants learn, build and play with Lego bricks. Classes are designed to teach the fundamentals of STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — education.
Session B was a rotation of three stations manned by Girl Scout parents. Cybersecurity was led by David Bennett, the father of a Daisy Scout. He led a workshop on computer and internet safety. Engineering was led by Tamara Hebert, the mother of two Brownies. She led a workshop leading to the completion of engineering badges. Robotics was led by Zachary educators Kristy Gilpin and Laurie Condon, both mothers of Daisy Girl Scouts. Their workshop taught basic coding and programming needed to operate Dash robots.
Pellissier said the activities were fun but also helped lay a STEM foundation for the Girl Scouts. “As a math teacher, I am so excited that our girls want to learn more about STEM,” she said. “Our Engineering Day was something I started putting together because I wanted to give our Girl Scouts as many fun experiences with engineering and robotics as I could.”