My Girl Scouts are working on their Think Like a Programmer badge this year.
The Daisies are having a great time, and I like this badge for Girl Scouts because you can incorporate a bunch of different STEM activities and start getting them interested in engineering and how things work. Our local library just got a bunch of these Cubelets blocks, which are a great intro to programming, and I’m hoping to get the girls over there to work with them. In the meantime, here’s what we did at our last meeting to work on our badge requirements.
We started with a classic STEM activity – building structures with marshmallows and toothpicks. You could use gumdrops in place of the marshmallows, if you’d like.
I bought both marshmallow sizes – small and large – and let the girls try them to see which would be more effective. Their goal was to build a structure the height of a plastic cup, that would hold one book on it without falling down.
- marshmallows (large and small)
- plastic cup
- picture book
Have the girls poke toothpicks into the marshmallows to build a structure. It may take a few tries – especially with younger girls – but eventually they’ll figure it out! Encourage them to work together…and if you’re anything like me, you’ll have to restrain yourself from helping too much. It also helps if you reserve a few marshmallows for everyone to eat at the end to celebrate (but not the ones with everyone’s grubby fingers all over them!) Once they’re finished, measure the structure and see if it’s taller than your cup. Then lay the book on top and see if it will support the weight.
Since this is one of those activities I’ve heard of and seen done forever, I was surprised at how excited the girls got experimenting, and at how long they worked at this project. Sometimes I forget that even though I’ve seen something done tons of times before, this is all new to the kids. They had a blast. This challenge not only taught the girls to work together, but to try different solutions if their original idea didn’t work out.
Our next activity was coding bracelets. We took a variety of pony beads and strung them on yarn, and each girl spelled out her name in different colors. I’ve included a sheet for you, in case you want to try this activity as well:
Bracelet Coding Activity
- pony beads in a rainbow of colors (pre-sorted is VERY helpful!)
- yarn, lanyard, or pipe cleaner
- Bracelet Coding Activity printable
Have the girls look at the printable to find the letters in their name and get beads in the corresponding colors. Add the beads in order to “spell” out their name in code.
The girls had fun figuring out how to code their names…and they loved taking home a bracelet at the end of the meeting. We finished with a few Girl Scout songs and…of course…the Make New Friends song and Friendship Circle at the very end.
Do you have any suggested activities for the troop programming badge? I’d love to hear them in the comments!