GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Katherine Ketcham, Gunnison, “STEM Day”

Katherine Ketcham pic

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

My Gold Award project was a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Day for Gunnison Elementary School students. They learned about biology, chemistry, physics, and STEM at the day. First through fourth graders completed the experiments and learned about those topics for thirty minutes. The STEM Day was two complete school days in October.

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

My rural town is weak in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) education. I went the first seven years of my public schooling without STEM. This caused my great interest in
it come high school and helped me decide on pursuing it in college. Other people I know avoided STEM once given the opportunity to pursue it because of its faulty reputation of being challenging. I believe that if students are exposed to it earlier, then they would be more likely to pursue it later in life. Reviewing the school district’s lack of STEM education, I took the initiative and enacted a STEM Day at the Gunnison Elementary School in hopes that the current students would be introduced to STEM at a younger age.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

The many students that experienced the day learned about potential future occupations, courses, and subjects. They may ask questions, read books, or view science fairs put on by university students. They may gain a greater appreciation of the world and want to better understand it. In the future, they will most likely take more science classes when the opportunity arises in high school and college. There will also be an increase of people interested in pursuing STEM as adults. I’ve begun the student’s education and shown them potential paths for the future. STEM is an important occupation with many branches that will always be needed. In the future, these students may hold such occupations.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

I don’t particularly enjoy talking with people, especially on the telephone. I discovered that I have excellent interpersonal communication skills. I developed and discovered this through my project. I had to communicate with various adults. I had to discuss with my advisor on how to conduct my day and what projects should be used. I had to discuss my idea with teachers in the Gunnison Elementary School to see their willingness to allow their students to participate. I had to communicate continuously with the elementary school principal in order to establish the day. I also had to communicate with teenagers. I needed student volunteers to assist with my STEM Day. I then had to communicate with the elementary school aged students in first through fourth grade. I was nervous for all this at first and practiced my speeches multiple times, and despite the fact I was sick and could barely talk on the day of my project, I was able to effectively communicate to all age groups. It was an exciting and impacting realization that I’m gifted at interpersonal communications. My improved ability to communicate then furthered me as a leader. I also gained organization skills and planning skills.

How did you make your project sustainable?

The approximated 500 students that experienced that day learned about potential future occupations, courses, and subjects. According to my statistics and my prediction, they will most likely take more science classes when the opportunity arises in high school and college. Those students are also more likely to pursue an occupation related to STEM. I’ve begun the student’s education and shown them potential ideas for the future. This will assist with their future success. Teachers at the Gunnison Elementary School saw the great success and effect this day had on the students. They intend to make the STEM Day an annual event. The STEM Day was endorsed by the teachers so much; they invited me to host another STEM Day after school on February 18, 2015. This STEM Day reached many students and shows the endorsement the teachers have for it.

What was your connection to the national or global community?

STEM isn’t only lacking in Gunnison, but also in other towns. Teachers don’t emphasize on such courses or don’t offer them. According to a study done and published on www.usnews.com, by
the time students enter fourth grade, a third of them no longer feel interested in science. By eighth grade, nearly fifty percent of students have lost interest in science and deem it unnecessary for their futures. These statistics largely come from the lack of opportunities regarding such subjects. The undereducated teachers in those areas also ineffectively teach as they are untrained in those subjects. The poor limited opportunities granted cause a nationwide need for supplemental STEM education. The result from limiting STEM courses is limiting the education for the students. STEM should be highlighted upon in younger education and made fun for the elementary school students so they enjoy it and get more out of it. STEM, although highly needed, isn’t emphasized in school districts nationally.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

I’m very proud of my project for so many reasons. I believe this has been the most influential and beneficial project I’ve ever done. I’m so proud to help the community and the future STEM world with my project and interests. I’m also proud that I influenced  students to now appreciate and like STEM when they formerly didn’t. Another part I’m proud of is that the students still, a few months later, recognize me and talk to me about how fun my STEM Day was. They genuinely enjoyed the day and learned a lot. I’m really proud of the success of my project. The impact was significant. I’m always going to remember its great impact on the elementary students. My goal in life is to help others in all ways, and this is the greatest way I’ve helped people so far.

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

Earning my Gold Award helped with my future greatly. It helped me become a better leader, more effective communicator, better organized, and more confident. These are important life skills that will greatly help me in my future.

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

The Gold Award was my favorite part of Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts are dedicated to community service. This project allowed me to help my community greatly. Girl Scouts is an amazing experience that provides many opportunities. The Gold Award is another unforgettable and highly revolutionizing part of Girl Scouts that is rewarding and impactful.

***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