GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Christina Bear, Golden, “Project S.T.E.M. Student Mentors”

Christina Bear pic

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

I initiated a S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) introduction course for minority students at the Horizons Summer Program, a non-profit enrichment summer program, at Colorado Academy. I taught 3rd grade minority students Scratch programming for games and animations, Robot construction/programming, and mini-science experiments.

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

In the United States, there is a shortage of minorities in S.T.E.M. education and careers. The goals of my Gold Award project were two-fold:

  1. To introduce minority children to S.T.E.M. topics, specifically technology and computer programming.
  2. To explore the role of high school students as S.T.E.M. Mentors for elementary school students.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

With pre- and post-questionnaires, the students reported a two-point increase on a five point scale for their ability to program a game, how to program a drawing pen, and their ability to make and program a robot. It is my hope that the students I taught have access to further enrichment throughout their schooling and to develop positive attitudes to S.T.E.M. education and careers. I wanted to leave a legacy for my school and for my community in developing Project S.T.E.M. Student Mentors. As a result of the project, Horizons Summer Program is working to incorporate S.T.E.M. into their yearly summer program curriculum, both locally and nationally.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

I learned valuable life-skills of collaboration with my mentors and with experts in the S.T.E.M. field which enhanced my communication skills. Time management of juggling my Gold Award project, my academics, and sports sharpened my organization skills. I learned confidence and the value of preparation in planning the course. I had to use emotional intelligence skills of interfacing with diverse cultures, genders, and races and learned to appreciate diversity and inclusivity in my school and community.

How did you make your project sustainable?

I developed a web site (www.projectstemstudentmentors.com) and compiled an in-depth manual to guide future high school S.T.E.M. student mentors desiring to pursue this project. There are many S.T.E.M. volunteers, but most are adults. This project is unique because it encompasses a mutually beneficial guiding and teaching relationship of high school students and elementary students. I obtained a Proclamation from Governor John Hickenlooper proclaiming January 2015 as S.T.E.M. mentoring month. I donated $500.00 from my prior scholarship awards to cover future expenses for science experiments, instruction guides, posters, and folders. This donation is intended for Horizons to continue my vision for S.T.E.M. enrichment for minority students for at least the next five years.

What was your connection to the national or global community?

My project addresses a national problem, which specifically is a lack of adequate graduates in S.T.E.M. fields needed to maintain America’s economic success and national security. An aim of my project was to help lessen the achievement gap and S.T.E.M. disparities all across the United States for race, gender, and socioeconomic status. From a global perspective, a diverse work force in S.T.E.M. leads to creativity and collaboration, which ultimately leads to innovation.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

Three things come to mind. I discovered the scope of my project was too large when I initially planned it. Focusing on a smaller slice helped to contain the project and make it impactful. I also learned the impact in a project to create change in my community can be measured objectively (via questionnaires) and subjectively (teacher commendation). Lastly, the challenge of making a project sustainable is subject to many variables and therefore an in-depth manual and web site are reasonable methods for sustainability.

How will earning your Gold Award help you in your future?

The leadership skills I learned of collaboration, time management, adaptability, and inclusivity will help me to manage future projects with resilience and confidence. Knowing that I can scale a project to a small slice and still be a change agent for something I believe in is empowering. After reflecting on the impact of my pilot project, I envision scaling up the project for greater utility in S.T.E.M. mentorship. The process of the Gold Award, with the guidance of dedicated and nurturing mentors, has taught me to communicate with respect and accountability. I am grateful to the Girl Scouts of Colorado for inspiring me to become a leader in my community.

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

The Gold Award teaches valuable concepts of impact and sustainability that are not usually a part of projects that I do. As a result, I believe I can create lasting change that can improve my community. My coming of age has been dramatically and positively affected by the responsibilities required to complete a Gold Award. Most importantly, the Gold Award unexpectedly helped me to establish a lasting legacy to my school and community.

***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