July 20, 2018
Playing with Legos can be life changing – the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana group Gamer Girlz can show you how first hand. The Gamer Girlz, who range in age from 9 to 14, use their science and communication skills to code Lego robots to solve real-life problems. This introduction to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) at such a young age is critical to encouraging young girls to enter the field. For Gamer Girlz, it’s proof that there’s a place for women in STEM.
The group participates in Indiana FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science and Technology), a program that allows students to combine an excitement for robotics with a passion for science and problem-solving in the real world. The girls design and build their own Lego Mindstorm robots and attachments, then code them to perform challenging tasks. They’re pretty good at it too – they advanced to the Indiana FIRST Lego League State Championship last year. Gamer Girlz was one of only 30 teams that advanced from the 260 who qualified.
Each group member contributes to the team, from building and testing to coding and project planning. The group decided to make it a requirement that every member be the lead coder at some point to ensure all girls in the group learn to code. Even at such young ages, they recognize the importance of having girls get interested in robotics, coding and STEM. “Sometimes girls don’t get as many opportunities as males in this work field, and it’s important everyone gets the chance to experience this community,” says Penelope, co-leader of Gamer Girlz.
Unfortunately, Penelope’s words ring true: although women made up 47 percent of the job force in 2015, women only filled 24 percent of STEM jobs. Girl Scouts thinks it’s time to change that percentage. “We need to look at both our boys and girls in a very equal way … having a female voice in that conversation is only going to lead to better solutions,” says Danielle Shockey, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Indiana.
“By about fifth to sixth grade, girls start getting quieter in classrooms and start losing interest in STEM activities,” says Carlotta, whose daughter is a part of Gamer Girlz. “This is also the age many girls start losing interest in Girl Scouts, so incorporating the two activities for our girls seemed natural.”
Girl Scouts is proud to offer girls a wide array of programs to help them find their passion, including STEM, outdoor adventures, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Danielle is especially proud that many Girl Scouts are discovering a passion for robotics, coding and technology. In fact, around 80 percent of female tech leaders are Girl Scouts graduates!
Thanks to Gamer Girlz and Girl Scouts, girls have the opportunity to explore STEM and discover what a career in STEM looks like. From building robots and learning how to code, to improving their communication and leadership skills, the Gamer Girlz are developing all the skills they need to be successful STEM leaders.
United Way of Central Indiana is proud to partner with Girl Scouts of Central Indiana to help young girls build courage, confidence, and character. There’s power in every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ to change the world.
See more stories that unite us here.