Thursday, August 25, 2016

Girl Scouts Take Summer by Storm: Four Central Texas Girl Scouts Engage in Two Tough Summer Competitions

Four Central Texas Girl Scouts Engage in Two Tough Summer Competitions 
Written by: Campbell C., Keena D., Maddy D. and Camilla H. 
We’re a group of four girls—all Girl Scouts!—who love to learn and who earned the right to compete in the highest level of Science Olympiad (as a part of the Austin homeschooling team) and (on our own) at Destination Imagination. In our wildest dreams, we never imagined the opportunities we would have at these two competitions! Girl Scouts gave us the confidence to try everything we could. When we were asked to blog about our experiences, we jumped at the chance to tell you about both events.

Science Olympiad

Our first adventure took us to the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin, where we competed at the National Science Olympiad. Science Olympiad is an academic competition that consists of 23 events that range from shooting bottle rockets high in the sky to learning about the deepest trenches in the ocean. Our team was made up of 30 homeschooled students from Travis and Williamson Counties.  

Classes & Dorms
While we spent much of our time studying and taking tests, we had a good amount of time to hang out and learn what college life is like. Getting up at five in the morning to take a class across campus after sleeping in a dorm all night was a taste of what our future holds. When we arrived at the classroom at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, we were welcomed by a chemistry professor who taught us about the chemical structure of those famous Wisconsin cheese curds. Like Girl Scouts, Science Olympiad gives us opportunities to think about our futures.

One of our team members, Camilla, auditioned for an ACE Hardware commercial. She chose the topic of inertia for her on-camera debut. With little time to practice, she had to quickly learn how to do the experiment, talk her audience through the concept of inertia, and remember to smile. Juggling all of these roles was less daunting because she had taken the Toastmasters course for Girl Scouts. When Camilla found out that she had won fifth place, she was very proud that she had faced her fears and was thrilled to know that she had won 250 dollars for her team.

At last, competition day! With the sweet thought of victory in our minds, we entered our different rooms in which we would be competing. Our hearts thumped as we opened up the test booklets.  As we looked down at the pages we could see page upon page of black type containing the questions that we would need to answer. After we finished and were exiting the room, we realized that no matter what happened at the awards ceremony, we knew that we had done our absolute best.

Work hard, play hard
To be proud of ourselves, we had to work extremely hard. It was similar to the work we do to earn a Silver or Bronze Award. First, we decided what we wanted to do, and we put our minds to it. At the end of the day, we were very proud of ourselves. But working wasn’t all that we did. There was plenty of time to enjoy a banquet/awards ceremony, the knick-knack trading party, and even just playing outside with our friends!

Destination Imagination
From Menomonie to Knoxville, from cheese curds to barbeque, and from serious science to crazy creativity, the week after Science Olympiad, we traveled to the University of Tennessee for Destination Imagination. Destination Imagination (DI) is a program in which teams of students cooperatively and creatively solve problems. The DI challenges involve improvisation, theater arts, writing, engineering, project management, communication, innovation, teamwork, community service, and social entrepreneurship—all skills we’ve learned through Girl Scout activities!

During the year, our team of four partnered with Austin Bat Cave, a local nonprofit organization that hosts writing workshops for underserved elementary and middle school students. We found that Austin Bat Cave did not have a program for homeschoolers, so we created one and hosted our own writing workshops to help.

To compete in DI, we wrote an eight-minute play to depict our work with Austin Bat Cave, built our set and props, made costumes, and performed the play at the Regional, State, and Global competitions! When we arrived at Global Finals, we were amazed by how many people were there, by the learning opportunities we had, and by the joy we felt being with our friends.

So Many People!
Lights flashed in red, blue, and green. The opening ceremony for Destination Imagination started off with a bang! Or, rather, a parade. Teams from all over the world marched through the fog at the entrances, as if they were the home team for a sporting event. Pennsylvania followed Pakistan, and then came Poland. Teams kept coming and coming until nobody in the stands (including us!) could tell who was who. We were sitting across the aisle from the teams from South Korea, and we could see teams from Qatar across the way. We couldn’t believe that out of the 17,000 people who were there, we were four of them.

What Opportunities!                        
Zero Gravity Simulator! Paper Airplane Aerodynamics! Survive on Mars! These STEM exhibits in the packed convention center were among the dozens that were available to DI participants throughout our time in Knoxville. We stood at the entrance, staring, excited to get started. The next day, we walked through the campus fitness center to get to our song writing workshop—taught by an experienced Broadway songwriter!—and just one of many classes offered. DI had tons of workshops, inventor booths, and try-out stations. We got to work on everything from math puzzles to Mars rovers!

The global competition even had the largest duct-tape costume ball in the world! We all went to the ball, dressed in our hand-made, duct-tape costumes:  a marionette, an Icelandic singer, Alice in Wonderland, and an Anime character. 

“Good luck!” “Break a leg!” “You’re going to do great!” we whispered to each other right before we performed. In the year we’ve been a team, we have formed a bond of friendship, a deep feeling of camaraderie. We’ve had some really great moments (1st place at state!) and some not so good ones (watching our set’s stand almost break on the eve of our last performance), but through it all, we’ve become masters at working together.

We’ve gotten to experience so many things, even outside of these competitions. We’ve met so many new friends and have had so much fun! Every time we’ve competed, the values in the Girl Scout Law have helped us be more confident. We had opportunities to do and learn so many things this year, and we can’t wait to do it all again next year!

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