Inquiry in the Community can be a key piece of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) strategy for your council. Here are some ways to leverage this project to boost your capacity for STEM programming across the board, whether your council is relatively new to STEM or has been doing it for years.
Our curriculum equips the majority of your volunteers to do simple science activities with girls. If your council has developed some science events, whether your own or through external partners, our resources complement your existing programming - and all girls would have at least some access to science activities through their everyday volunteers (such as troop leaders and camp counselors). This, in turn, builds an audience of science-interested girls who want to attend your science events.
Perhaps you've wanted to build relationships with a local university, corporation, informal science institution (a museum, zoo, or planetarium), or industry employee group. You can use our resources to demonstrate your commitment to STEM programming, and leverage the expertise of an external STEM partner to increase your impact.
First, let them know you're starting an innovative science education project in your council (tip: mention that the original project was funded by the National Science Foundation), and ask for their advice in getting it off the ground. Next, invite them to join you in your planning efforts; by letting them experience some of the curriculum, they'll understand your needs - and Girl Scouts' mission - far better. Finally, ask for their ideas about ways to engage local girls in the world of STEM. Maybe they have employees who would like to volunteer as trainers or science event helpers; perhaps they have conference rooms you could use for volunteer workshops; they may even have budgets for public outreach. You'll never know until you ask!
If you're wondering where to start, the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) is a great resource. NGCP exists to foster collaboration between girl-serving organizations, industry, academia, government, professional groups, and anyone with an interest in STEM education for girls. If you haven't connected with NGCP, we highly recommend that you do so. Many Girl Scout councils are actively involved with NGCP, and have reaped the benefits that come from collaboration!
Inquiry in the Community fills a critical niche in your science programming: helping on-the-ground volunteers, like troop leaders, do science on their own. But what about STEM-focused events, camps, and series? Ask other Girl Scout councils! Councils have approached STEM programming in a variety of ways, and are usually happy to share their ideas.