Monsanto Fund donated $25,000 to support Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri’s For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®) Programs in 2014-15.
Girl Scouts’ FIRST programs are designed to serve a diverse group of girls throughout eastern Missouri while helping carry out our mission – to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. Females continue to be grossly underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. To counter this pattern, Girl Scouts remains committed to offering specialized programs such as FIRST.
FIRST is a mentor-based program designed to cultivate girls’ interest in STEM fields. Girls will learn valuable life and employment skills by learning how to become leaders, creating ideas, solving problems and overcoming obstacles.
“We are so thrilled that Monsanto Fund continues to support our STEM programs,” CEO Bonnie Barczykowski said. “STEM is one of our primary focus areas and it is through these programs that our girls will gain the experiences to prepare them to become tomorrow’s workforce leaders.”
This grant is part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund focused on strengthening the Greater St. Louis community, where Monsanto Fund and Monsanto Company are headquartered.
In the 2014-15 season, Girl Scouts will organize at least 30 all-girl FIRST teams, serving at least 200 girls and 60 adult volunteers. The FIRST program offers age-appropriate STEM activities for four tiers of teams; all of which will be represented through Girl Scouts:
- FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC): New this year, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri will offer girls in grades 9-12 the opportunity to participate in FRC. This competition challenges teams of young people and their mentors to solve a common problem in a six-week timeframe using a standard "kit of parts" and a common set of rules. Teams build robots from the parts and compete in games designed by FIRST founders Dean Kamen and Dr. Woodie Flowers and a committee of engineers.
- FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC): FTC serves young people in grades 7-12 with a greater emphasis on engineering. Under the guidance of a coach, each team is required to design, build and program a robot using sound engineering principles to accomplish the assigned set of robotic tasks. Teams then compete with their robots in local tournaments.
- FIRST LEGO® League (FLL): FLL immerses young people, in grades 4-8, in real-word science and technology challenges. Each participating team proposes an innovative solution to a current scientific question or problem. In tandem with their scientific research, girls are also introduced to the field of engineering as they build an autonomous LEGO-based robot that performs a series of tasks in local robotics competitions.
- Junior FIRST LEGO League (JrFLL): Focused on cultivating an interest in science and engineering in young people in grades K-3, JrFLL is a hands-on program designed to capture children’s inherent curiosity and direct it toward discovering the possibilities of improving the world around them. The program features a real-world challenge, to be solved by research, teamwork and imagination. Guided by adult coaches, girls work with LEGO bricks to build a model that moves.
While activities will vary according to the level of each team, the overarching goal remains the same: to inspire girls to become STEM leaders.
During the 2013-14 season, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri worked with 30 teams comprised of 227 girls. This year, Team 321, the Neon Electrons, won the highest award possible at the 2013 Eastern Missouri FIRST LEGO League Championship. This team of nine seventh grade girls excelled at all three aspects of the tournament: building and programming an autonomous LEGO robot and competing in timed robot games; researching a problem on this year’s topic, natural disasters and creating an innovative solution to their chosen problem; and working well as a team under FIRST’s core values of fair play and friendly competition.
Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri is also proud to announce that the Strong Swagalicious Master Bots, a FIRST Tech Challenge team, was invited to the Missouri State Championships. Other highlights this year include: 10 of our Missouri FIRST LEGO League teams earned awards at their qualifying tournaments with three Missouri FIRST LEGO League teams advancing to the State Regional Championship, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri expanded our FIRST Tech Challenge program to two teams and the newest FIRST Tech Challenge team, the Nuclear Unicorns, earned the Motivate Award at its qualifying tournament.
Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri offers the FIRST programs to girls throughout the City of St. Louis and 28 surrounding Missouri counties (Adair, Audrain, Clark, Crawford, Franklin, Iron, Jefferson, Knox, Lewis, Lincoln, Linn, Macon, Marion, Monroe, Pike, Putnam, Ralls, Reynolds, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Sullivan, Warren and Washington).
Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) has partnered with FIRST to offer Council program opportunities in these areas. The mission of the program is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills. The experience also inspires innovation and fosters well-rounded life capabilities, including self-confidence, communication and leadership.