Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Meet Our New STEM Manager: Megan Hunicke Q&A

Our new STEM Manager, Megan Hunicke, is happy to join GSCTX and help our STEM program achieve new levels of innovation. New to Austin and Texas, Megan knows a thing or two about Girl Scouting as she served as her daughter’s troop leader in Boise, Idaho. Now, she’s looking forward to being a resource for girls and troop leaders! Check out our Q&A with her below!

Why is STEM important for girls?
STEM is important for girls because I think girls have not been empowered in the past with STEM opportunities and showing what they can do. Girls not only have technical abilities, but they also have a lot of amazing skills that totally fit into STEM whether it’s problem solving, creativity, or being collaborative with a team.  I think tying that in with STEM is natural and that hasn’t been embraced in the past. I think there still are some stigma about girls in STEM and I want to be part of breaking down the stereotypes. I don’t think girls realize how many parts there are to STEM projects and careers and how many things you can do in STEM.  It also is a growing (and well paid!) career path in our digital world so the more exposure the girls can get the better opportunities they will have in the future.

What is your vision for the STEM program at GSCTX?
I want to be well balanced in the types of programming we provide for girls. I want to integrate STEM as much as possible into any Journeys and what I mean by that is being a resource for leaders if they’d like to incorporate STEM or would like more information about it.

What does the STEM Manager do?
I plan programs that are available for girls and troops. If there are girls or leaders that are interested in STEM but aren’t quite sure how to go about it, I’d like to be a support for them and help them find the resources to get started. I’d like to enhance the “Programs-On-Demand” program that we have because I think it would be cool to have it customized for their needs and it’d be great for the girls because it would be even more of what the girls want. We also have some pretty amazing events like Hackathon, that I will be in charge of overseeing and help putting together. We’re going to make it even better next year.

What do you love about Girl Scouting?
I love how it empowers girls. I think it helps them develop leadership skills in a safe, supportive way. I love watching them grow up and take on more responsibilities and start to take charge of their interests and community service.  There’s so many different factors to Girl Scouts and the whole concept of learning how to care of yourself first and then learning about a bigger sense of community as they grow is so important.

Favorite Girl Scout Cookie?
It’s a tie between Samoas and Thin Mints!

Anything else you’d like to tell our membership?
I’d like them to know that I’m definitely open to any thoughts or ideas on things that they’d like to see and that we’re really trying to reach a lot of different areas in STEM. We’re even considering incorporating different types of sciences like geology and animal sciences. We’re also really looking at ways to enhance the robotics program.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Abigail S. Creates Music for All

Written by: Abigail S., GSCTX Gold Girl Scout  

Golden Goal 
My name is Abagail S., and I have been a Girl Scout my entire life. I started as a Daisy
and I just accomplished one of my life goals of achieving my gold award. My Gold Award was
titled, Music For All, Big or Small, and its purpose was to create a free and easily accessible
resource that enabled young students to learn more about the musical instruments offered in a
band program.

Researching the Issue 
I started out my project by looking for a problem in my community. The issue that I saw
was that there was a lacking in the general knowledge of the musical instruments in a band
program. I would talk about band with all my friends, and they would always tell me that they
wish that they were in band but they didnt know anything about it when they had the chance to
join and not it was too late for them to join now, being Juniors and Seniors in high school. I
decided to make a YouTube page and post video tutorials of the different instruments in band,
because it was free and anyone with a computer has access to YouTube. I already owned a
camcorder, so I needed no funding for my project. I gathered some volunteers that were in band
with me to star in my videos because I only play French Horn. Each video covered the basics,
meaning how to hold the instrument, how to play the instrument, and the easy parts and the
hard parts of playing the instruments. 

Sweet Sound of Success
The most difficult aspect of my project was finding the time to film my volunteers around their busy schedules. But, once I finished, edited, and published my videos the rest was just getting them known in the community. I hosted booths at a couple of Girl Scout festivals and events, and played my videos and passed out flyers with the videos urls on them. This whole project has been a great learning experience for me, with learning how to use the camcorder, to learning how to edit footage, to even learning more about the different instruments in band.

Gold Award Spotlight: Solana O. Helps Knights in Need

Written by: Solana O., GSCTX Gold Girl Scout 

A History of Helping 
Helping others is just something I grew up doing – with my family, my church, and my Girl Scout troop.  Last year I learned that almost 40 percent of the students in my school are from low income families and are eligible for the National School Lunch Program.  Some students do not have a permanent home, access to regular meals, clothing, or reliable transportation to and from school. 

Tough Decisions
I understand how difficult being a teenager in high school can be with all the social and academic pressures that surround students. I am fortunate to live in a two-parent household and do not have to face the challenges of wondering where I will sleep or when I will eat or how I will get to school. My family is fortunate enough to not have to make tough decisions about whether to buy food or keep the electricity on in the house. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to struggle in this type of environment and continue to succeed in school, both academically and socially. 

Raising Awareness 
Every student deserves a chance to learn and grow without worries for food, clothing and transportation. My goal was to provide at least some of these basic resources and to let those students know they are supported in their community. I also wanted to raise awareness of the problem so as to create a better understanding of real-life situations that many of our peers face every day.  I am proud of the work being continued and expanded throughout the entire vertical team.  It truly takes a village and that village is now better aware of the needs within it!

Gold Award Spotlight: Sarika M's Mission to Help Haiti

Written by: GSCTX Gold Gold Scout, Sarika M. 

Golden Inspiration 
I chose my Gold Award project after traveling to Haiti for the first time two years ago to volunteer at my school's sister school in Haiti, St. Etienne. I was inspired by the St. Etienne community's passion for education and I wanted to find a way to better their lives. 

Taking Action
For my Gold Award project, I created awareness about St. Etienne. I organized a beanie baby drive to benefit the students at St. Etienne. I have a leadership role in Elevate, a new international development club at my school in which we learn and discuss global issues, including those in Haiti and St. Etienne. Most importantly, I created a website (sseshaitioutreach.wix.com/stetienne) that features pictures of all the students at St. Etienne, fun facts, and more information about the school. The website was showcased at an Elevate bake sale and at five other Haitian cultural exhibitions. 

Gold Girl Advice 

My project took more time than expected to complete, so I would advise other Girl Scouts who wish to earn the Gold Award to manage their time wisely and plan a breakdown of all the hours before starting the project.