SARATOGA SPRINGS – GLOBALFOUNDRIES got the ball rolling last year when they reached out to the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York (GSNENY) with an idea to partner on a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) program. GLOBALGirls was a first-ever camp partnership with The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF).
Daniella Nordin, the director of marketing for the GSNENY provided insight into how the collaboration got started.
“At Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York, we are committed to increasing girls’ involvement in STEM fields and ensuring that every girl has opportunities to explore and build potential career paths in these important fields. With our facilities and GLOBALFOUNDRIES engineers’, the partnership made perfect sense. Research shows that girls don’t choose STEM fields because they associate the work with labs and computers only. We wanted to be sure they got hands-on experience in a girl-focused environment.”
All Girl Scout members were invited to participate in the camp. Northeastern New York serves 15 counties and has about 10,000 members. Most of the girls who attended that camp were from the Capital Region community, mainly Schenectady and Galway. Three girls were recruited through Trinity Alliance in Albany and also participated in the camp. The girls ranged from 5th to 8th grade. More than 20 girls enjoyed a two week summer camp that provided a safe space for the girls to explore their potential in career fields that may not seem open to them. Camp activities were traditional and included swimming, hiking, arts and crafts, and cook-outs, among other activities.
Gwendolyn L. Bluemich, education and workforce developer at GLOBALFOUNDRIES said that they worked hard to blend the traditional Girl Scouts activities and to continue to instill the Girl Scouts values while also including the element of engineering and STEM itself.
“One of the reasons that girls go into the healthcare field is because they can see the impact that they make. So we wanted to really connect those dots and as it happens, GSENY is a big supporter of Union College’s EDGE program, which is educating girls in engineering. Which is targeted more toward high school where as we’re targeted more toward middle school.”
The EDGE Program provided a place of inspiration for Bluemich and her team to get started and move forward.
“EDGE is such a fantastic program and I thought to myself, ‘what can we do to make a similar impact at a lower grade level?”
The girls participated in a visit to TRF and learned about the mission of the program as well as seeing first hand the needs of the horses and staff at the stable. TRF is an organization that was founded in 1983 and focuses on saving Thoroughbred horses that can no longer compete at racetracks. They rehabilitate and retrain able horses and give them the chance at a second career.
“From there, the girls’ were challenged to create a tool or prototype to address a specific TRF challenge.”
After breaking into four teams, the girls followed the six step engineering design process they had learned about on day two in their engineering workshop and with a budget of $30, each team successfully created a different project that tackled a problem at TRF.
The “Robinhoods” built a manning trap for horse flies using items already available to them. A wooden box, a basketball they painted black to attract the flies, a water bottle, and a fixture they rigged with brooms attached so that the horses could easily and safely scratch themselves on a post.
The “Horse Fixers” built a rolling ladder using wood, pipes, and ropes to make it easier for the TRF staff to transport 50 lb bags of horse feed.
The “Scientists” created an insect repellant spray, a horse blanket using one of their own Girl Scouts blankets attaching straps and clips to make it easier to utilize blankets while maintaining sturdiness.
Team “JAKKEA” also created a horse blanket but using a rope and a unique knotting technique to safely secure the blanket and a wooden post with bristles for horses to scratch themselves with.
All teams were successful and innovative with their solutions and presented them on the final day to the staff of each organization and to their families.
“Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York is thrilled with the outcome of the first year of the GLOBALGirls program! Since it’s our first year, we weren’t sure what to expect, but it has been a great experience from beginning to end. We are already looking forward to planning next year! There will be another event like this in the future,” Nordin summed up.
“This framework is so easy to replicate and all you need are a few passionate volunteers and somebody to drive the programming at the different sites. We are looking to expand this program. It was so successful that I have already received several inquiries. We’d like to use this GLOBALGirls program as a launching pad to expand it to other sights within the United States,” Bluemich concluded excitedly.