By: Christi Sanchez, STEM and Tech Girls Programs Specialist
Girl Scouts opens girls to new experiences and teaches them they can accomplish anything. That’s why Girl Scouts of Central Texas wants every girl to have an opportunity to broaden her horizons. Our Community Troop programs are designed to reach those girls who are unable to participate in traditional troops due to the geographic, socioeconomic, and emotional challenges they face each day.
Tech Girls, one of seven Community Troops offered in the central Texas area, is a weekly afterschool program for middle and high school girls that aims to excite and engage girls in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), with a specific emphasis on closing the employment gap and creating a pipeline for local tech firms.
Tech Girls uses a hands-on curriculum to engage girls in STEM and encourage girls to choose STEM-related education and career paths. We create a safe, girl-only environment where girls can comfortably experiment with different STEM activities.
Tech Girls groups are typically led by teachers from the school at which the program is offered. This structure allows for richer relationships between students and teachers, free from the constraints of a typical school setting. Some of the Tech Girls curriculum mirrors school concepts but emphasizes experience and discovery rather than the outcome (test scores), which allows girls to really dive in and enjoy the topics without fear of failure. Teachers love working with us and also gain some growth professionally.
“Being a Tech Girls teacher has helped me step out of my comfort zone and learn different STEM related activities. I have also learned how to create a judgement-free zone, so the girls feel comfortable being here,” said Tech Girls teacher.
“It’s helped me build much stronger relationships with my girls. It’s been very personally rewarding to inspire interest in STEM and take risks myself, such as when I taught myself to solder so that I could show them how,” said another Tech Girl teacher.
A great feature of Tech Girls is that girls’ registrations are free of charge, thanks to a grant from Intel Foundation. The registration provides girls access to the weekly afterschool program, as well as access to participate in other events offered by Girl Scouts of Central Texas. Additionally, the Tech Girls program includes visits to corporate partners’ offices, where girls can witness firsthand what it would be like to follow a STEM career.
Historically, some schools with lower than average test scores did not allow girls to leave campus for field trips. However, this year, thanks to our Intel Foundation grant, those girls will have the same opportunities and experiences as their peers and will be able to go on field trips. The Intel Foundation partnership also includes visits from Intel employees, allowing girls to connect with role models. By seeing professional women that look like them, girls are more likely to enter a male dominated field like STEM. It’s inspirational!
It takes a village to raise girls of courage, confidence, and character, so we thank all our community partners for making raising confident girls in our community a priority. Tech Girls will be registering girls at the beginning of the school year and is currently available in select Austin-area schools that have partnered with Girl Scouts of Central Texas to deliver the programming. If you work with a school in the Austin area that would be interested in offering Tech Girls, contact us.
Interested in becoming a Girl Scouts of Central Texas partner? Click here for information and the application.