We recently joined the Girl Scouts of Hawaii for their second annual Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) Fest, held in the town of Waimea on the Island of Hawaii. Seventy-seven energetic Girl Scouts ages 8-14 attended, and several Troops were represented from all across the Island, some driving more than two hours to be there. The Scouts rotated through twelve interactive stations, each with a STEM theme.
Lani Yamasaki and I ran the Liquid Robotics station, where we taught the Scouts about the Wave Glider and how it can be applied to the Hawaiian concepts of Malama ‘aina (protect and care for land) and Kuleana (responsibility). The Scouts loved listening to humpback whale songs from the Jupiter Research Foundation (our origin story!), and were very curious to understand how the Wave Glider works. They were all very familiar with ocean conservation issues and highly aware of ocean pollution, especially plastics and entanglement issues with marine animals. The Scouts were quick to imagine Wave Glider applications – the most popular being to use Wave Gliders to detect and collect floating trash in the ocean.
All of the stations were fascinating – I wished I could have been a participant, too! A local vet brought animal eyeballs to dissect, a dentist brought teeth with cavities to fill, a group of women aviators timed the Scouts in putting on flight suits and had them piloting quad-copter drones, local women doctors instructed the Scouts in hands-only CPR, and one of the schools had each Scout play a coding game where the prize was Girl Scout cookies.
It was exciting to be in the presence of so many women who are involved in STEM, and to be in a room full of girls who are interested and engaged in STEM. It got me thinking about when was the last time I was surrounded by so many scientific women? In my job, I often attend STEM-related meetings and conferences and find myself noticing that only a handful of women are present. It was great to see the Girl Scouts efforts to involve the Scouts in STEM at this festival, and how engaged the girls were throughout the day. I’m inspired by their enthusiasm and encouraged about their future in STEM.
Jennifer Hauser is a Program Manager with Liquid Robotics, and her STEM background is in Oceanography. Lani Kamauu Yamasaki is the Cultural and Community Engagement Consultant for Liquid Robotics, and her STEM background is in Conservation.