Friday, June 3, 2016

Girl Scouts Explore the Coastal Ecosystem in the Outer Banks

On Saturday, May 14, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast hosted Coastal STEAM in the Outer Banks, a day of fun and learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Girl Scouts enjoyed a warm, sunny morning near the beaches in Wanchese, while taking part in hands-on activities at the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute.

Kathy Mitchell, conservation horticulturist for the
North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, teaches
 Girl Scouts Chase and Dorian about connections between
native plants and wildlife.
Throughout the morning, Girl Scouts interacted with women scientists from Jeanette’s Pier, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the North Carolina Aquarium and the UNC Coastal Studies Institute as they took part in workshops focused on learning about different aspects of the coastal environment. The workshops included opportunities for Girl Scouts to learn how to use renewable resources to generate energy, identify connections between native plants and wildlife and use equipment for acoustic ecology, which involves studying the relationship between living beings and their environment mediated through sound.

The favorite activity for the day was a workshop with Dr. Kate Brodie from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where the girls learned about how scientists use drones and lasers to create 3D maps to help predict potential weather crises, such as hurricanes.

Girl Scouts construct a wind turbine.
“The girls were great and seemed very excited,” Dr. Brodie said. “A lot of them live in coastal communities so they were already familiar with hurricanes and their potential impact. I think that learning how we use drones and cameras to make 3D maps was a tangible experience for them.”

In today’s world, where women hold only approximately 25 percent of STEM careers, Girl Scouts is working with community partners, such as the UNC Coastal Studies Institute, to expose girls to a wide variety of career option in STEM. With 74 percent of teen girl expressing interest in STEM, Girl Scouts works to create experiences for girls to increase their confidence in their STEM-related abilities, educate girls about careers in STEM and introduce girls to female STEM professionals, which will inspire girls to envision themselves in STEM careers in the future.

This event was funded with grants from the Currituck-Dare Women’s Fund and the Northeastern North Carolina Research and Environmental Education Fund. The Northeastern North Carolina Research and Environmental Education Fund, established in 2014 by Bill and Peggy Birkemeier, long-time Girl Scout who served as the lead volunteer for this event, supports charitable uses in the field of coastal scientific research and environmental education in the northeastern counties of North Carolina. Coastal STEAM in the Outer Banks has been a yearlong planning process between the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, North Carolina Sea Grant and UNC Coastal Studies Institute.