Girl Scouts and STEM in 3D Printing
Girl Scout Troop 3288 Visits MatterHackers HQ
One of the emerging ideas in Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Cub Scouts is the involvement of STEM in their badge programs and education. Traditionally, these programs have been focused on community service, building young women and men of character, and giving them a wide range of learning opportunities through the earning of badges and other awards.
A majority of badges up until recently were focused on the following groups:
- Professional Skills: Such as Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Public Speaking, Architecture, Communication, Philanthropy and more.
- Hobbies: Coin Collecting, Letterboxing, Reading, Gardening, Drawing and more.
- Athletics: Kayaking, Horseback Riding, Cycling, Personal Fitness and more.
- Industrial Arts: Metalworking, Welding, Woodworking, Jewelry and more.
- Community: American Heritage, Public Health, Inside Government, Citizenship and more.
But now Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Boy Scouts are getting more and more opportunities to explore STEM fields to earn badges, promote STEM learning and improve their communities with their discoveries.
Recently, Girl Scout Troop 3288 was able to visit the MatterHackers HQ to earn the Product Design badge. One of the main processes that designers, engineers, and innovators have to go through is the iteration process; this means that when they start with an idea, they go through multiple steps of testing, making adjustments, and monitoring those changes to discover if their design is giving the desired output.
For a fun and relatable example, one of the visiting Girl Scouts came up with an idea for a car that runs on cookies instead of gasoline! She will need to answer a lot of questions to get the design up and running:
- How many miles per cookie does it get?
- Does it go faster if you fill the tank with Thin Mints or S’Mores?
- Are you always hungry when you drive it because of the cookie fumes?
Once they have the answer to these questions they test those conditions:
- Can I make changes to the chassis of the car to give it more miles per cookie?
- Can I make changes to the aerodynamics to give it more miles per cookie?
- Which cookie or cookie combination makes it go the fastest?
- Which cookie or cookie combination gives it the best miles per cookie?
- How many cookies will the driver consume, on average, when driving the cookie mobile because of the amazing cookie smells that constantly come from the exhaust?
- How many cookies should you carry with you to sell to hungry pedestrians who smell your cookie mobile at intersections?
While these questions are somewhat silly, they are a playful and an extremely important part of what the new STEM badge programs are like for all levels of the scouting program for Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Boy Scouts.
The iterative process is also at the heart of the Next Generation Science Standards for most public and private education programs in the United States. Being able to look at a system and ask critical questions, as well as readministering the same test over and over to get a consistent result are hallmarks of the scientific process, and well embedded in the STEM badge programs.
For Troop 3288 and their Product Design badge, they had five steps to work through:
1. Make a list of cool products we use every day. Pick one of those products and list five things you like about it and five things you would like to change.
2. Observation: Observe someone using a product. List five things you saw the person doing when they used the product.
3. Troubleshooting: During this observation also note conditions before they used the product, during the use of the product and after using it. Did the person have any issues using the product? Explain how you would know if their use was satisfactory or not.
4. Pick one of the items you observed in step one, two or three that you feel needs to be improved the most. Use the ‘SCAMPER’ technique to determine how to improve its design:
- Substitute: consider changing out parts of the design for something else.
- Combine: consider the possibility of putting together two ideas or stages of the product into a single, better product. For example, combining phone technology with digital photography created a whole new world for telecommunications.
- Adapt: which parts could be adapted to change the nature of the product?
- Modify: what about changing the parts in an unusual way?
- Put to other uses: how else could you use this product besides its intended purpose?
- Eliminate/Elaborate: what could happen if you took away certain parts?
- Reverse/Rearrange: what would happen if certain parts worked in a different order?
5. The best products take time to refine and test before they are sold. Pick your best idea from step four and find out why it may not be working perfectly. You can do this by building a prototype, or model, of your design. Use materials like cardboard, paper, foam sheets or clay. Once it’s built, ask others for feedback. Use that feedback to make adjustments for a better product. It’s okay if it doesn’t seem like it will work at all. Never get discouraged if the feedback isn’t good. Mistakes are invaluable in learning how to improve something.
The Girl Scouts learned all about the many different materials that are in use with 3D printers today, like PLA, ABS, ASA, TPU, nylon, PVA and more. They were able to see several 3D printers in operation during their visit to report on for their product design badge. They observed cartesian 3D printers, like the LulzBot TAZ 6. They also observed delta-style 3D printers, like the SeeMeCNC Artemis. Finally, they were able to see an SLA resin 3D printer like the Peopoly Moai.
They were also able to see that things produced by a 3D printer have to be fine-tuned beforehand, so the printer has the best setup for a specific task. Is it PLA or ABS? Do we need a lot of detail or a rough mock-up? Does it need to be a specific color? Do we need a different print bed surface for better results? Do we need to slow the speed down to get better results? Just like the cookie mobile example, there are a myriad number of questions, both obvious and unknown, when making a product. To test these questions, they were able to get hands-on with the Crafty Pen to create their own tools, constellations, and silly prints.
After their visit, the Girl Scouts also got some awesome cat-ear rings, and they were able to take home their Crafty Pen creations! We sure had a great time with their visit, and they had a ton of really good questions about 3D printing! Well done Troop 3288!
If you are interested in learning more about 3D printing for your educational programs - whether it’s in school, for business, or for your scouting program - please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The growing awareness of STEM subjects and the interest from children and parents has been so high that the Boy Scouts of America has created STEM Scouts.
STEM Scouts are co-ed (boys and girls can join) and instead of packs or troops, STEM Scouts have Labs. They focus on experiments, iterative processes, and becoming good citizen scientists. The curriculum runs the gamut; programming, chemistry, meteorology, engineering, math, electronics, and of course 3D printing!
STEM Scouts are currently in a few select markets in the United States, but the formation of Labs are almost a reality in Orange County.
Visit https://stemscouts.org/ for more information and to get involved.
For more information on Girl Scouts and their awesome STEM program, follow this link:
For the NOVA and SuperNOVA STEM awards for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and Venture Scouts, follow this link:
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