From Girl Scout Leader Brandi Miller (far left) to C3 Robotics Coach Smita Volz (at right), both the troop and the team come together for a photo.

Authored by Lisa Morlock, South Central Regional STEM Hub Newsletter, February 2023. Reposted with permission. 

We always say the hub is here to help you make STEM connections. And those things happen–usually incrementally over time. So it’s hard to tell the story, until this fall…

Once upon a time, a robotics team member, Aria of C3, reached out to the Hub to offer the team’s energy and expertise for technology outreach. Once upon (a short) time (after that), Girl Scout troop leader Brandi Miller reached out to the hub with a request to find someone who could help with a series of Scout badges in technology.

Dr. Sarah Derry, Hub Manager, matched the community leaders, and the two groups of students came together for three meetings of building robots, coding missions, and eating donuts.

“We learned how to write computer code,” said Anahlaya, one of the Scouts, “and how that code talks to the robot in order to complete missions.”

The hub visited on the last day of the partnership. Each Girl Scout choose a mission from a previous FLL robotics challenge table, and their goal was to complete it during the two-hour time frame.

“I like solving my own problems,” said Kymani. “It’s a challenge. You have to go through the steps again and again to find the issue.”

Miller let the girls chose what badges they wanted to work on, and the technology series was on the list. “I’m hoping it opens up their imagination to STEM. Sometimes it seems we send a message that, if you’re not great at math and science, then technology wouldn’t be a good fit. But that’s not true. It’s about solving a problem step-by-step.”

Miller went on to talk about the value of her troop’s partnership with C3. “The C3 team did an amazing job, and I learned a lot through the sessions they led. Girls Scouts is supposed to be girl led, and Smita [C3’s coach] was a great model for that. Scout leaders are volunteers and may not always have the skills to lead every badge. It is nice to know we have groups like C3 in the community to offer volunteers like me support.”

Smita Volz has spent a lot of time working on ways to welcome all kids into technology. “One of our team’s goals is to increase accessibility and engagement in STEM.” She’s passionate about helping young people find connections. “It’s much more than coding and building,” Volz explains. FTC also builds leadership, communication, outreach, logistics, design, public speaking skills–and friendships.

“I like the aspect of making,” said Sargun, C3’s notebook and video guru. “I feel like I can use my creative side to make our notebook stand out. We only get five minutes to make an impact with judges as they flip through it.”

Both Miller and Volz thanked Tech Journey for providing their gathering space. Tech Journey also sponsors C3 Robotics and a host of other teams.

Like every good story, this one came to a happy close. The girls earned new badges, the robotics team gathered community service hours, and both groups found new friends and skills. One Scout’s big brother even joined C3’s team.

The end.

(Which is often the beginning of something else.)