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Women in STEM 2019

Girls power full steam ahead with STEM challenges


Fiona Murdoch

Communications Officer, Irish Girl Guides

Members of Irish Girl Guides (IGG) from age 5-30 are developing a love of STEM through exciting new activities and badges.

In recent months, IGG has introduced STEM, Engineering and Aviation badges to its collection of over 120 ‘interest’ badges. These are in addition to Online Surfer, Techno and Science Investigator badges.

In order to earn any badge, girls are encouraged to undertake a number of tasks and challenges; they then receive the relevant badge to acknowledge and reward their efforts to do the best they can.

Earning a STEM badge with science and engineering projects

The STEM badge for Ladybirds (aged five to seven years) involves girls undertaking science experiments and engineering projects, like building towers, making telephones using string and using magnets. By doing this, they learn about balance, stability and planning, how sound travels, magnetism etc. It is hoped that doing these activities will spark an interest in STEM subjects that they will pursue inside and outside of school.

Engineering badges require creative thinking

To earn the Engineering badge, developed in partnership with Engineers Ireland, Brownies (aged seven to ten years) and Guides (aged 10-14) work through a variety of fun engineering challenges based on creative thinking, curiosity and team-work. The aim is to build an engineering mindset and to encourage girls to explore the exciting possibilities a career in engineering can offer.   

The Aviation badge is very popular

The Aviation badge, introduced earlier this year in partnership with Aer Lingus, is already proving popular. To earn the badge, Ladybirds are asked to make an object that flies (eg a paper aeroplane or kite). Brownies research different careers linked with aviation and investigate innovative women in the history of aviation. Guides must put their engineering skills to the test by creating their own aircraft experiments.   

LEGO Robotics

Hundreds of IGG members throughout the country have also taken part in workshops developed in partnership with Dublin City University and LearnIt LEGO. One project involved Brownies exploring innovative ways to conserve water, including designing, building and programming autonomous, motorised LEGO models. Another saw Guides and Senior Branchers (aged 14-30) undertake a ‘Mission to Mars’ challenge, building LEGO robots to complete a series of tasks on a simulated moon surface.

IGG Chief Commissioner, Helen Concannon says: “Irish Girl Guides is a movement and always strives to move with the times and remain relevant to young people while challenging stereotypes. We believe in our girls’ capabilities and want them to develop their skills in STEM. If we want to solve the world’s challenges, we must ensure that both boys and girls can aspire to become engineers, pilots and scientists.”

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