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GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Courtney Howell, Niwot, “STEAM Day”


Courtney Howell


What did you do for your Gold Award project? 

For my Gold Award project, I held a science, math, and engineering exploration day for middle and elementary school kids in my local area at my high school, to show them that science can be fun! The event consisted of 22 hands-on activities and learning displays that were designed to be fun, interactive, and educational, while encouraging kids to get interested and involved in STEM. Activities ranged from a wide variety of different science and engineering topics, and I had 16 different science and engineering organizations involved in the event, either by running a booth or by donating materials for an activity. The impact I had hoped to make, was to share the “wonder” of science and provide the opportunity for elementary and middle school children, to discover a passion or appreciation for science through hands-on activities.

How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?

I created a survey and had attendees fill it out rating their experience at the event, as well as specific aspects of the event to quantitatively measure the impact of my project, on my target audience. Comments from the surveys were incredibly positive, with the majority saying that the event was well done and a great opportunity that kids absolutely loved. Even before I tallied and analyzed the data, I could tell by how bustling the event was, how many kids I saw smiling, and deeply engaged in the various activities, that the event was a success.

How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement? 

My project will be sustained beyond my involvement by a group of leaders at my high school, who will take over the event by running it again next year. To help them get started, I provided a list of contacts and activities I used in my project. I also compiled this information into a “manual” of where to start in organizing the event, and mailed this manual to different schools around the state to allow other schools to run the event, something similar, or just to use its activities for teaching and spreading the fun of science and engineering.

What is your project’s global and/or national connection?

STEM programs are important in furthering national wellbeing and technology, but there are areas of the U.S., and worldwide, that don’t have as many opportunities to expose kids to STEM and getting them interested in science and engineering. Polls done by the National Science Foundation in 2011,  report that nationwide only 34% of 8th grade students performed at or above the proficient level in math, and only 40% of 4th graders nationwide performed at or above the proficient level. Math and science are important for innovation and progress, yet so many students nationwide struggle because they do not have the opportunities to learn and discover STEM in an engaging way.

My event, STEAM Day, can also link nationally because it will be repeated next year and can also be put on by other schools or organizations. From Silver Creek High School, the STEAM Day can spread to other schools in the district, then from one school district to another. It can grow/spread from Longmont to another town in Colorado, and from other towns in Colorado to another state and later another. I have started a chain of potential STEAM Days that I hope will spread far beyond my local community.

What did you learn about yourself?

By completing my Gold Award project, I realized just how capable I am. Going into the project, I had some doubts about whether I could get it done in time or even if I had the motivation to complete the project, but I learned that I am motivated and capable. While the event came together a little last-minute for some things, I was able to put together a successful event with myself as the leader, proving to myself that I am a capable young woman who can achieve anything, even difficult, if I put my mind to it.

How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?

The practical life skills, such as time management, networking, and project management skills, I gained from doing this project will be invaluable for my future. Both in college and a prospective future career in genetic research, I will have to organize and execute large-scale research projects, which will require many of the same steps and skills as my Gold Award project did. Because of this, my leadership skills will continue to grow and improve as I identify topics of research interest, plan, and execute research, as part of or leading a team, that can hopefully help the greater community.

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

The Gold Award was a great way to use and refine the skills I had begun to develop through my 13 years in Girl Scouts. From selling cookies to going to camp, Girl Scouts introduces important skills, like networking, planning, and fundraising and these skills get put to practical use, as well as become improved, when you do your Gold Award.

***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 highestawards@gscolorado.org

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