Girl Scouts explore STEAM fields at first-ever conference

Updated September 1, 2018 - 7:36 pm

After 14-year-old Athena attended a summer tech camp last year, she realized that instead of becoming a veterinarian, she wants to pursue a career as an animator.

“It was so rad,” the Girl Scout and Southeast Career Technical Academy student said, laughing. “We played around with Maya (a design tool) and we sculpted on the computer. I was a part of the animation group and I really, really liked it. Right now I’m going to school for animation and game design.”

It was one of her first ventures into STEAM-based learning and on a recent Saturday, she was one of about 120 Girl Scouts in grades 6-12 who filled a conference room at the Renaissance Hotel to attend the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada’s inaugural STEAM Career Conference, which focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

The five-hour event kicked off with a continental breakfast. After, Girl Scouts took part in informational sessions led by women in careers such as aviation, art, financial literacy and more.

“Events like this are important to expose the girls to other women leaders in our community, to inspire them in ways they may not know they can be inspired,” said Kimberly Trueba, CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada. “We gathered speakers from each part of the STEAM program, so girls get to choose what they’re interested in. Something’s bound to inspire them and maybe start forming what they want to do when they grow up.”

The emphasis on STEAM-based skills comes after Girl Scouts USA announced its plan to inaugurate 30 badges that will include programs in environmental stewardship, robotics, mechanical engineering and space exploration. The Southern Nevada chapter will begin offering these badges this fall, including cyber security for younger girls and robotics for older girls.

“When you think of an engineer, you don’t think of females,” said 17-year-old Mary, a Girl Scout and student at Pahrump Valley High School. “Most people think of males. I feel like this program is helping girls say, ‘Oh, there are women in this field. You can be into this and it’s not weird.’ ”

The event closed with a formal luncheon where Lt. Col. Cynthia E. Wittnam, the keynote speaker, discussed her experience in the U.S. Air Force. She is now director of operations for the 11th Attack Squadron at the Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs.

“Times are changing,” Trueba said. “And I think Girl Scouts as a whole over the years has been very diligent and very responsive to changing with the times. Many years ago, Girl Scouts was camping and crafts. Over time, we’re teaching girls to have a voice … in advocacy … in leading. … Now, in STEAM-based learning habits and careers.”

Contact Mia Sims at msims@reviewjournal.com. Follow @miasims___ Twitter.

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