When it comes to Girl Scouts, there’s more behind those cookie booths than girls in their uniforms selling treats. That cookie money goes towards so many important experiences for young women, including first-hand science education and social responsibility. When you combine these two aspects together, you get Girl Scouts actively helping the world by becoming citizen scientists themselves. While these girls are serving their communities, they’re also learning about the world of science and how they can leave a lasting impact starting at a young age. Let’s take a look at just what these girls can do in the world of science!
What is a Citizen Scientist?
A citizen scientist is a person who goes out and collects data to help researchers and organizations gain knowledge about a certain species, area of land, or waterway. This can include activities such as tracking butterflies, watching birds, testing water impurities, or checking the plant growth of an area. Many scientists are desperate for the help of citizens, because research is often underfunded, understaffed, and there’s no one better than those who live in an area to really help gather data about it. This is where the Girl Scouts come into play.
Think like a Citizen Scientist
The Girls Scouts organization has done a makeover over the past several years. Alongside the camping and cooking badges, they have incorporated more and more STEM-minded projects. As a Junior Girl Scout by the age of 9, girls can start working on their citizen scientist badge. This badge requires that the girls go out and directly help the world of science, right in their own backyards. The girls choose a citizen science project that they’re interested in, learn how to accurately collect data, and take steps to complete their part of the project.
Here’s one example of an organization that the Girl Scouts have opted to help through this program:
Stream Selfie is a citizen science project that has spread across the US to help draw awareness to its small, unmonitored waterways. This project urges people to get to know the waterways around them and provide information about the water. In order to do this, they ask people to snap a selfie by the stream they’re visiting, post that selfie, and answer a few questions about the location. The end result will be a constantly updated map of waterways. The stated goal is that, “By putting this information in one place, we can highlight streams that are being monitored today and develop a national inventory of streams that need to be monitored in the future.”
With so many Girl Scouts out there working on this new badge, what better way to earn it than to help your local area gain information that will help it in the future?
Other Citizen Science Projects
Beyond the Stream Selfie program, there are many other citizen science projects that Girl Scouts (and non-Girl Scouts) can join. If you or your troop are interested, there are citizen science projects and programs that need your help for most local areas. If nothing piques your interest on the local level, there are also national programs.
Let’s take a look at some citizen science projects that Girl Scouts could jump into right now on the national level:
Bird Count - This project requires that you to count local birds in your area. You can participate in the state-wide bird count by contacting your state’s ornithological society to get all the details.
Water Monitoring - Join in celebrating World Water Monitoring Day. Using a testing kit, collect a sample from a local body of water for use in monitoring water quality and share that data with others around the world.
Search Space - Have you ever wanted some interstellar stardust named after you? Here’s your chance! Join NASA by volunteering with stardust@home and search images for tiny interstellar dust impacts.
Bird Feeder Stakeout - This project has volunteers monitor birds throughout the winter that visit their backyards. Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit backyard feeders, nature centers, community areas, and other locations across the United States.
Citizen Science and Girl Scouts
It’s amazing that Girl Scout troops have partnered with local citizen science projects. Earning a citizen science badge by participating in local and national projects is fulfilling and educational for young minds and inspirational for the rest of us. By incorporating more science into the Girl Scouts program, there will be more girls out there on the trails looking up towards the sky and down towards the earth to help impact science. These girls have always spent time outdoors, but now the trips have a bigger purpose.
[bctt tweet="By incorporating more science into the Girl Scouts program, there will be more girls out there on the trails looking up towards the sky and down towards the earth to help impact science."]
By partnering with SciStarter to create this new badge, Girl Scouts are showing that they understand the need for girls to be more involved with STEM and their community. As long as Girl Scouts keeps partnering with organizations like this, there will be more girls going into the science field in future generations!