Troop Tuesday: Girl Scout Engineers In-Training

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Above Girl Scouts from Troop 60351 sift through parts during their day at Clarkson University, where the girls enjoyed a tech-filled day of collaborating and building robots.

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We want to know what our Girl Scouts are up to. Email photos and a short description to Jaime Alvarez @ jalvarez@gsnypenn.org.

Girl Scout Troop 20354 is Keeping Up an Important Relief Effort

Girl Scout Troop 20354 is Keeping Up an Important Relief Effort

At its core, the Girl Scouts is about leaving a place better than we found it. Girl Scout troop 20354 out in Little Falls has been working hard toward their Bronze Award, which touches on the subject of conservation.

“[They] recently went to the Herkimer Home to place birdhouses in the back fields to help rejuvenate the American Bluebird population,” Troop Leader Holly Pelzer wrote. “Also the Herkimer home gets birdwatchers from the area that will be able to enjoy the birds that habitat the houses.”

As far as conservation status, the American Bluebird has been move to “Least Concern.” It’s because of continued efforts, like those of Troop 20354, which help it remain that way. Today, the American Bluebird populations have been on the rise, up from a dramatic decline in the early 20th Century when new species were being introduced to the North American Continent, such as European Starlings and House Sparrows. These species made nest holes difficult for bluebirds to hold onto.

In the 1960s and 1970s, efforts to provide relief to this bird from the unnatural selection humans had brought helped breathe new life into a population verging on extinction. The establishment of bluebird trails and nest box campaigns have helped reduce competition from non-native species and led to a thriving population.

If you want to learn more about birds and other conservation efforts, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a sanctuary where people can go to observe these creatures, which make up such an important part of our ecosystem.

We want to know what our Girl Scouts are up to. Email photos and a short description to Natalie Shoemaker @ nshoemaker@gsnypenn.org.

Troop Tuesday: There’s More than One Way to be a Good Steward

Troop Tuesday: There’s More than One Way to be a Good Steward

As part of their Get Moving Journey, Junior Troop 10015 visited Covanta Energy in Jamesville, NY and learned how they process waste into energy!

Covanta Energy is just one of many companies committed to providing sustainable waste energy. Many nations are rushing to find ways to reduce waste as the realities of climate change begin to sink in. The next generation has a heavy task ahead. They are entering a brave new world where humans need to find ways to up-cycle, recycle, and reuse goods.

It’s important for us to understand what we leave behind, and how we can reduce our footprint. It’s amazing these girls are learning good stewardship comes in many forms.

Want to be featured in a Troop Tuesday? Email photos and a short description to Natalie Shoemaker @ nshoemaker@gsnypenn.org.

The Origin of the Spooky Ghost Deer of Romulus, NY

These ghostly white deer don’t look like the deer we typically see demolishing our gardens (thought they’d probably relish the opportunity). The unique color of their fur is caused by a recessive gene in White-Tailed Deer.

The deer in the video above are from Romulus, NY. Specifically, from a closed-down US army depot.

seneca white deer location

Within this army depot is where you’ll have the best chance of catching a glimpse of a deer with this uncommon trait.

They are more commonly known as the Seneca White Deer, and they are the largest herd of all-white deer in the world.

The story of this herd goes like this: When the US Army erected a fence around 24 square miles of land back in 1941, they unknowingly trapped and became the protectors of a small population of white deer.

Normally, out in the wild, their white fur would have caused them to be more visible to hunters and predators. This recessive trait was allowed to prosper through artificial selection when, in the 1950s, the depot commander decided to forbid the hunting and shooting of the white deer—allowing only brown deer to be killed by GIs.

You can still catch a glimpse of these white deer grazing near the fence of the closed army depot at dusk and dawn. A great place to park and watch for these critters is a driveway right off of 96A.

For more information about these white deer.

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3 Things for Thursday: Engineering an Amazing Year

3 Things for Thursday: Engineering an Amazing Year

As our Junior Girl Scouts graduate to Cadettes, they pass into a new, exciting part of Girl Scouting. It’s unfortunate, but few young women get to experience the adventures and responsibility that come with this new level of Girl Scouts. So, I’m here to highlight three wonderful adventures that await.

Destinations:  Girl Scouts love to travel—as Brownies, you may have gotten a taste for it, and as a Cadette, Senior, or Ambassador, you may be looking beyond your county’s, state’s, or even your country’s borders for new experiences and adventure.

Girl Scout Destinations is the ultimate adventure program for girls ages 11 and older. With a ton of different trips to apply for every year—from surfing camp on the east coast and breathtaking hikes out west, to the crazy-cool wonder of new cultures abroad—there’s something amazing for everyone to experience.

Girls apply individually for these trips. Each trip has its own application form that is downloaded from that destination’s page on the GSUSA web site.

For more information on Girl Scout Destinations, please email Karen Strife, Program Manager or call her at 315-782-1860 ext. 2215.

Awards: Girl Awards can be a fun and stressful time for many of our Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts going for their Silver or Gold Award. But we’re here to help! Find out more about these two highest awards a Girl Scout can earn, learn how to brainstorm and choose your project. After all, these awards give girls the chance to do big things while working on an issue they care about. (We will also be discussing Girl Scout Destinations at these meeting.)

Sign up for this event in Watertown, NY

Sign up for this event in Oneonta, NY

Engineering: The Biomedical Engineering Society at Cornell University will be hosting Girl Scout Engineering Day. There will be a variety of exciting, engaging activities designed to promote engineering, science, creativity, and teamwork. The girls will participate in activities like making liquid nitrogen ice cream and marble rollercoasters! This event is open to Girl Scouts in grades 2-12 (girls will be separated by age groups for activities).

Find out how to sign up for this event.

How to Code

How to Code

By Natalie Shoemaker, Advancement Coordinator

We live in an amazing age where anything we could ever want to learn is available to us (and usually for free) online. Even so, it can be difficult to know where to start, especially if you’re looking to learn how to code. The tools for your success are all out there, and I’m going to show you how to find them.

What do you want to accomplish?

Just like there’s a different outfit for every occasion, there are different coding languages for what you need to accomplish. So, the first thing you should ask yourself is: what do you want to build? A website, an app, or animation?

Let’s pick a language

After you’ve considered your interests, it’s time to pick a language and stick with it! If you want to design a blog or website, learning HTML and CSS is a great place to start. Then down the road, you may want to learn JavaScript to build in more interactive features or animation.

If you want to build app for iPhone, consider learning Swift, or if you own an Android device try learning XML and Java.

Maybe you want to do something more with robotics, content management systems, and more, Python might be where you want to start out.

Go forth and learn!

The important thing when you pick a language is to stick with it. There will be times of frustration, where you may think coding isn’t for you, and that’s ok. It’s all part of the learning process. Learning to code is about taking risks. Your confidence in your abilities may wane at times, but when you finally finish building your first program, you’ll realize, like I did, that it’s all worth it.

If you live in Binghamton, come to one of our coding events:

At this event Binghamton University women will lead girls in software coding activities fromcode.org and girlswhocode.org. See vintage computers in action and Apollo simulator from Smithsonian. STEM related mechanical music, optics, code in Braille, and more!

Find an immersion program with Girls Who Code

HTML, CSS, JavaScript

Code Academy

Coursera

Khan Academy

JAVA

Build Android Apps (XML and Java)

Remember, the internet has tons of resources Googling a question is a great way to find an answer when you hit a roadblock, likewise, sites, like StackOverflow is a great page to keep bookmarked when learning how to code.

Has your girl built any amazing projects with code? Share them with us! Send any information to Natalie at nshoemaker@gsnypenn.org.

This Happened to Me, I Don’t Want It to Happen to Your Daughter

This Happened to Me, I Don’t Want It to Happen to Your Daughter

Why do so many girls quit programming after their first class? Let me share my story with you, which may help illuminate the issue (if only a little).

There’s many reasons why girls quit after their first programming class. Coding tests your self-worth, your skills, and your intelligence. It can be frustrating—a mere semi-colon out of place in an otherwise perfect program is the difference between a program that runs and one that doesn’t.

In my Intro to Programming in high school, I constantly struggled to make my code work. I felt like a failure; I didn’t think I had the ability to do it. Everyone around me seemed to be getting it, I thought there was something wrong with me–my brain. So, I stopped.

I tell you this story, because it’s not just mine. It’s a story shared by girls across the United States, and I don’t want this story to also become your daughter’s story.

Years later, I learned there was nothing wrong with me, other than I lacked the understanding that everyone struggles with coding. No one gets it right the first time.

The Difference Between Boys & Girls

Girls approach math and coding differently than boys, and by knowing this I hope my failure will become your girl’s success story.

Study, after study has shown that when it comes to coding and math, girls and boys who love these fields of study lose confidence at a similar rate. When it comes to learning math, researchers noticed an interesting phenomena that began at the start of Calculus I. While both genders seem to feel the struggle at the same point in time, they saw a significantly higher drop-off rate in girls than in boys. Why?

“When women are leaving, it is because they don’t think they can do it – not because they can’t do it,” said study co-author Bailey Fosdick in a press release.

“Our findings indicate that if women persisted in STEM at the same rate as men starting in Calculus I, the number of women entering the STEM workforce would increase by 75 percent,” the study reads.

Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, has seen this issue before. She says it’s because girls are socialized to be perfect, not brave.

When your girl enters her first programming class, let her know imperfection is part of the process, there’s nothing wrong with her, no one is getting it right the first time. Show her the Ted Talk above and share this article with other parents, so they know her daughter isn’t alone.

We’re working on showcasing important conversations that affect young girls and parents. If you or your daughter have an idea that you’d like discussed, feel free to submit it to Natalie Shoemaker (me) via email nshoemaker@gsnypenn.org