Did you get your Thin Mints yet?
It's Girl Scout cookie season, at least in some parts of the US. (Cookie sales periods, prices, and even varieties vary by region.) But Girl Scouts all over the world just celebrated Thinking Day too. World Thinking Day is in late February every year, and most troops mark the occasion somehow. A holiday about thinking! What could be more science-friendly than that? This year's theme for World Thinking Day was "Empowering Girls Will Change Our World."
So I thought I'd look through my daughter's badge book for what science-related badges Junior Girl Scouts can earn. Juniors are in grades 4-5-6 in the US; they're the ones with the green sashes. Science badges for this age include "Aerospace," "Rocks Rock," "Weather Watch," "Science Discovery," "Science in Everyday Life," "Science Sleuth," "Sky Search," "Computer Fun," "Water Wonders," "Discovering Technology," "Plants and Animals," "Environmental Health," "Humans and Habitats," "Math Whiz," and others, depending on your definitions. Even "Car Care" has girls learning to check the oil, brake fluid, tire pressure; learning about the composition of tires; researching the technologies of energy efficiency, emissions reduction, and passenger safety. Most of the badge requirements today cannot be done sitting at a table during scout meetings--they require girls to go out and try things, keep journals of their observations, attend events, and talk to experts in the community.
You don't have to be a Girl Scout leader or parent to help empower girls with science experiences. Offer yourself as a guest speaker at a local troop meeting; determine if your workplace can be made available for a troop to tour; or put together a packet of interesting materials that troop leaders might not be able to find in a craft store. If there's a Girl Scout camp in your area, see if they need any science equipment you have to spare (even just magnifying glasses!).
Again and again, if you ask adults who were Girl Scouts, they'll tell you specific events, experiences, or people that stuck with them and even affected their career and life paths. (For me? Mrs. Cannon. Taught a bunch of us left-handed girls to crochet, bless her.) Wouldn't it be cool if, twenty years from now, a woman said "it was that person, that day, that moment," and she was talking about you?
Also? If you offer your services in the springtime, I can almost guarantee you'll get some cookies as a thank you. Thin Mints, if you're really good.