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Girl Scouts Add Badges For Robotics, Other Science Skills

The Girl Scouts of the USA unveiled 23 new badges related to science, technology, mathematics, and nature activities this week, responding to popular demand for activities related to interests such as the outdoors, mechanical engineering, and computer programming.

The new badges will have members designing robots and learning about mechanical engineering, " building and testing rollercoasters, race cars, and gliders," the organization said.

"The level of skills will be appropriate to the girls' ages, starting with kindergarten-age Daisy Scouts," member station Arizona Public Media reports.

Jessica Malordy, communications coordinator for Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, tells APM, "Girls have expressed a ton of interest and have been very vocal about their desire to do more STEM."

As part of the effort, the Southern Arizona group is set to open a new facility that includes a new STEM lab.

"STEM and the outdoors really help girls learn to take risks and to seek challenges and learn from setbacks," Malordy told APM.

The Girl Scouts announcement brought enthusiastic responses on its Facebook page.

"So proud of our Girl Scouts," Connie Willegal wrote, adding, "when I told my 2nd year Brownie granddaughter about these, she was delighted!"

Caitie Ann Bolich said, "WooHoo!! So happy to have more fun with my Brownie Scout! She is so excited to build some robots and go camping!"

The new badges will initially only be available for younger members, the group said. Replying to comments noting the lack of opportunities for middle- and high-school-age girls in the organization, the group said badges for older girls are "in the works."

In keeping with this week's theme emphasizing science, the Girl Scouts posted a project created by the Girl Scouts San Jacinto, for building a solar eclipse pinhole projector.

Back in 2011, the Girl Scouts updated their badges for the first time in some 25 years, adding badges for activities such as Digital Movie Maker and Website Designer.

The Boy Scouts of America have placed a similar emphasis on science activities making changes such as adding a Robotics badge in 2011 and badges for Game Design, Sustainability, and Programming in 2013.

As the group says on it page explaining the STEM/Nova program, "We must work together to cultivate the next generation of critical thinkers and innovators."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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