By Stefanie McCall, Leadership & Learning Specialist -GSLE
Who knew that playing with Legos would teach girls engineering and problem solving skills and help them travel the world? This was something that 16 first and second grade Girl Scouts discovered this past spring as members of a Junior First Lego League team (Jr. FLL). Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland received a grant from Girl Scouts of the USA to start two Jr. FLL teams. We partnered with the staff of John Thomas School of Discovery in Nixa to deliver the program. The response was so overwhelming that we actually formed four teams!
The girls spent six weeks with teachers of the Thomas School of Discovery and GSMH staff, discovering the world of Jr. FLL. First, the girls learned about problems that senior citizen encounter as they age. The girls did some problem solving and invented tools to help combat these obstacles. Using Legos, girls created models of their inventions. The inventions included tools to make using the phone easier and tricked-out wheelchairs that solved a multitude of mobility problems.
At the end of the program, girls took a one-day road trip to the First Lego League/Jr. First Lego League World Expo Festival in St. Louis, Missouri. At this event girls saw FLL & Jr. FLL exhibits and models from teams all over the world. Girls met other Girl Scout teams from Kansas, Colorado and Minnesota.
They met people from Hong Kong, Switzerland, Great Brittan, Japan and Germany to name just a few. It was truly a life-changing opportunity for these first and second grade girls.
I am confident that out of the 16 girls on our teams that at least one of them will be inspired to become an engineer or a scientist. Thanks to the field trip the girls had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and discover that while we all look different and speak different languages, everyone worked on creating a solution to the same problem. Sharing the excitement of discovery with these girls has been a life changer for me as well.