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GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Chiara Degenhardt, Ouray, “Science Discovery Box”

Chiara Degenhardt pic

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

My Girl Scout Gold Award project centered on creating a hands-on, standards-based science discovery box that connected activities with the natural resources of Ridgway State Park. I developed activities for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students that connected to the state and common core science standards. I piloted my activities at two elementary schools, and developed a teacher’s guide to accompany my science discovery box.

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

My Gold Award project allowed me to combine my passions for science, the outdoors, and working with 3rd through 5th grade students. My long term goal is to be an elementary school teacher, preferably in the 4th or 5th grade. My project helped me see how difficult and important it is to understand the standards used to shape curriculum, and gave me some first-hand experience in developing and implementing hands-on activities.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

More and more children are not getting outdoors. Living in Colorado gives us amazing opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy nature and science, but between parents’ schedules and the increasing use of technology, children in our state and nationwide are not experiencing the natural world as much as previous generations. My Gold Award project developed fun and easy to use activities that can be used in or out of the park, but connect to the natural resources of Ridgway State Park and Colorado in general. Teachers can check out my science discovery box, free of charge, and have an easy to use field trip activity for their students.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

My Gold Award helped me gain some first hand experience in what it means to be a teacher. I learned how to use the state and common core standards to develop age appropriate, hands-on science activities. By piloting my activities in elementary school classrooms, I learned the importance of connecting what I did on paper to guiding those activities for real students. My piloting experience taught me what changes to make to my activities and my teacher’s guide.

How did you make your project sustainable?

My science discovery box will be housed at Ridgway State Park and can be checked out by any teacher or homeschool parent. There are enough supplies and equipment in the box to be used by many classrooms, many times. The Friends of Ridgway State Park funded my science discovery box, as it fits well with the educational component of their mission, and they will continue to fund the replacement of expendables in the box. My activities were also designed to be very inexpensive to use in terms of expendables.

What was your connection to the national or global community?

The activities I developed for my science discovery box were designed with both the state and common core (national) standards in mind. My activities tied in specifically with the natural resources at Ridgway State Park, but they can easily be adapted to the natural resources anywhere. The common theme in my activities is the importance of water in a natural environment.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

My Gold Award project represents years of thought and hands-on work. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of my project, but I think what I will remember the most is presenting my hands-on activities to students, and having them really enjoy what they were doing. I worked hard to make my activities standards based, but also fun, so seeing students really having a good time with the science was very rewarding to me.

How will earning your Gold Award help you in your future?

I want to be the best elementary teacher I can be. Many elementary school teachers do not have a strong background in science, yet science is all around us and can be a very fun class for students. I may not major in the sciences in college, but earning my Gold Award has renewed my belief that I need to be sure I come out of college with a strong science background. My Gold Award has given me hands-on experience in working with the age group I want to teach, and has taught me how important it is to have high quality science activities for students.

Why do you feel the Gold Award is an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

The Girl Scout Promise and Law are guiding principles in my life. Through my Gold Award process I was constantly reminded how important these principles are for a future teacher. If every teacher and student lived by our Law, what a friendly and respectful place our schools could be! I took all the things I have learned over my past decade as a Girl Scout and put them together to complete my Gold Award project. Girl Scout camp, and being outdoors at camp, is one of my most important Girl Scout experiences, and was one of the inspirations for my Gold Award project.

***IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email



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