INSPIRATION IS EVERWHERE

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Robotics opens doors for rural young women

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Carolyn White

Grant and Public Support Manager, Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming

Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming received a 2017-2018 FIRST® STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant to engage rural young women in STEM, connecting them with STEM enthusiasts and college scholarship opportunities through robotics competitions.

In Montana and Wyoming, severe school budget cuts have dramatically curtailed STEM education for all students, but young women especially. Today only about a third of eighth grade girls in these two states are proficient in math.

To help fill the gaps left by budget cuts and engage young women in math and science, the Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming have made STEM education a top priority for our members, 30 percent of whom are underserved and underrepresented. FIRST teams are a big part of that effort. This year, we added 18 new robotics teams, bringing the total to 23 teams across the two-state council. The sheer number of Girl Scout teams competing this year resulted in a record number of girls participating at the state competition

Our Girl Scout FIRST teams build STEM and life skills; plus, the girls learn about STEM careers from their mentors. FIRST participants and parents are also made aware of college scholarship opportunities through FIRST. We must unequivocally prepare girls to reach their full potential. To do so, girls must acquire solid technical and leadership skills, then be recognized as high performers to secure scholarships to gain entrance to college and lower the burden of student debt. For at-risk girls in families struggling to buy the basics, scholarships are paramount to keep their STEM career dreams alive.

Learn strategies Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming and other youth-serving organizations are using to bring exciting, hands-on STEM programs into their communities.


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