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Girl Scouts Go Tech: Microsoft Corporation Grant Trains Girls on new MIT Media Lab Software Program
The San Jacinto Girl Scouts of today are the technology gurus of tomorrow thanks to a very special collaboration. In April, more than 100 techies in training explored a new programming language, called Scratch, through a grant from Microsoft Corporation and instruction delivered by a representative from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Scratch, which has been in development at the MIT Media Lab since 2002, allows users to create their own interactive stories, animations, games, music and art, which can then be shared with others on the net.
"Microsoft only chose one council – San Jacinto Council – for the grant," says Ruthe Farmer, project manager, technology and engineering education at Girl Scouts of the USA. "This pilot program was made available to Girl Scouts in 5th through 8th grade. If the girls here enjoy it, Girl Scouts will offer Scratch training on a national level."
"We are thrilled with this incredible opportunity to partner with Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council to provide girls with an avenue to explore their interest in technology and to develop their talents in this area," says Carla Faini, Ph.D., an academic programs manager with Microsoft. "There are many exciting jobs for women with technology skills. Microsoft is committed to helping students begin preparing for rewarding IT careers at a younger age through partnerships like this one."
Girl Scouts who participated in the training were very excited to be a part of the launch of the Scratch software. "I love Adobe PhotoShop and things like that," says Girl Scout Jessie V., "and this was a new program I could create with."
The Media Lab is also introducing Scratch in schools across the country. It is available as a free download on the Scratch web site at: http://scratch.mit.edu. All participants are encouraged to log on to the Scratch web site to view and comment on each other's creations. In anticipation of a summer exhibition of their work, San Jacinto Girl Scouts will be working on their Scratch projects both at home and on computers set up at the Council.
"Scratch makes it easy for children to program their own animations, video games, music videos, and other interactive creations,” says Tamara Stern, a graduate student in the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the Media Lab, who is working with a group of other researchers to develop Scratch. "In designing these creations, children learn mathematical, computational, and design concepts in a meaningful and motivating context."
The Scratch project is only one of the many science, technology, engineering and math (S.T.E.M.) programs that Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council (GSSJC) offers girls each year. Last year, more than 3,500 Girl Scouts participated in S.T.E.M. programs and many additional programs are planned in the coming months. "We want girls to know all of the opportunities that are available to them," says GSSJC CEO Mary Vitek. "Girls are able to learn about the options early and also have the chance to build on their interests."
Girl Scouts of the USA is the world's preeminent organization for girls, with a membership of more than 3.5 million girls and adults. Today, as when founded in 1912, GSUSA helps cultivate values, social conscience, and self-esteem in young girls, while also teaching them critical life skills that will enable them to succeed as adults. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Chartered by GSUSA to provide Girl Scouting locally, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is one of the largest Girl Scout councils in the country serving over 63,000 girl members and 18,000 adults in 25 southeast Texas counties. For more information call 1-800-392-4340 or visit www.gssjc.org.
GSSJC Pluralism Statement
Embracing and promoting pluralism is an integral part of every activity and plan of Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, not disconnected or separate projects. Only individuals willing to accept and be educated about the basic tenet that Girl Scouting is for all girls may serve in volunteer leadership or staff positions.
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