Badges, Activities, & Beyond, Parents

Thinking outside the walls: STEM in the outdoors

The great outdoors is one of the most diverse and engaging skill-building settings—for both youth and adults! And it’s especially great for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

Girls can be amateur entymologists as they search out bug habitats, use the scientific method as they try an outdoor experiment, and even apply the engineering design process as they build the perfect sand castle. It’s like one giant laboratory filled with a thousand experiments and potential new discoveries!

With so much to explore and experience outside the walls of a typical troop meeting room, the opportunities are as endless as the sky.

So how do you begin your daughter’s outdoor STEM adventure?

The key to building her confidence and comfort level with the outdoors and STEM is progression. Start with short excursions outside and build to longer trips that challenge her skills. You can use Girl Scouts’ Outdoor Progression chart as a good guide for outdoor STEM activities, too!

As she grows her confidence and outdoor skills, help foster her curiosity and creativity!

Get her into the habit of observing and questioning the world around her. Ask her questions, like how do fish sleep? Or why do flowers turn towards the sun? Why is the sky blue? What effects do beaver dams have on the river?

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein

Girls grow their STEM skills through new experiences, afternoons of creative play, and the random experiments they do. So when she comes up with a question and you aren’t sure of the answer (and she will), help her figure it out!

When she builds a pile of rocks as high as it can go and wonders why they toppled when they did, help her understand the why. A short hike or afternoon outside could lead to trips to the library for books on insects, plants, weather phenomenon, or whatever sparks her curiosity. Or she could explore her interest with a summer camp or local workshop that delves deeper into the topic.

There are so many possibilities to boost her STEM experiences! Don’t forget to check out our Activities List to see what opportunities Girl Scouts of Western Ohio offers in STEM and the Outdoors.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney

Based on her interests and research, she might decide to explore further by constructing a weather station in the backyard, build a small dam in a creek (and taking it down when she’s done, remember Leave No Trace), or one of the many other creative outdoor science experiments. The main goal is to keep the curiosity and creativity going!

Afternoons (or weekends) in the outdoors exploring and creating could lead to a career as a naturalist, a scientist, or one of hundreds of other STEM careers. Or it could just lead to a confident, curious and creative adult who cares about the outdoors. And that’s AWESOME!

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