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EEB Graduate Student Organization Honored for Outreach Efforts with Girl Scouts

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pictured below are KU EEB and KU MB graduate students of the EEB GSO Outreach Committee that organized and led modules for the Girl Scouts STEM EXPO at Camp Tongawood October 21st 2018.

The EEB Graduate Student Outreach Committee will be honored with a special award for their contributions to Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri at the Central Region’s Volunteer Appreciation Event on Sunday, April 29th. The EEB Graduate Student Organization (GSO), a group of graduate students who are committed to community engagement through STEM outreach, was formed in the fall 2014 and later named as a Community Partner of Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri in fall 2015. Since becoming a Community Partner, the EEB GSO Outreach Committee has served over 600 girls with over 10 STEM modules.

These modules, which are described in greater detail on the Community Partners Page, may be scheduled by local Girl Scout troops at their leisure. Some of our most popular modules include: Bug Badge, Nature Walk with KU Naturalists, and Meet a Marine Biologist. The Bug Badge module is geared towards Brownies (grades 2-3) and gives the girls an opportunity to meet and interact with Entomologists. During the module, girls discuss the diversity of insects using an insect collection, and then, with nets and envelopes in hand, the girls go outside to collect their very own insects. Some girls have even started their own collections after participating in the module. The Nature Walk with KU Naturalists module takes Girl Scouts on exploratory nature walks through their local parks and campgrounds. Girls hear from graduate students who conduct fieldwork as part of their research, and learn about animal habitats and environmental conservation, usually getting a little muddy in the meantime! The Meet a Marine Biologist module, led by Sally Chang, fulfills requirements of the Wow! Wonders of Water journey by facilitating interactions between the troops and expert marine biologists from the EEB department. During these events, the Girl Scouts get to hear about current research and potential careers in marine biology, while also getting hands-on experience with unique marine creatures--everything from sea cucumbers to sea sponges! The DNA Extraction and the Be A Paleontologist activities have also been very well-received by local Girl Scout troops.

In fall 2017, EEB graduate students organized the first-ever Girl Scout STEM Expo at Camp Tongawood as a way to sustain and broaden the involvement of STEM graduate students at KU with Girl Scouts of the region. Graduate students were invited to participate in a workshop led by Kaila Colyott (with the support of Katrina Rothrock of UKanTeach) that allowed them to develop and pilot new modules and plan how to most effectively engage with the girls that participated in those modules. With this event and newly developed student-led workshop, new, active, and engaging modules that aimed to sustain Girl Scouts’ excitement for STEM learning were piloted. Each girl was provided a “Continuing the Conversation” handout with related information and activities that she could enjoy at home with her family. Activities available at the event included: Acids and Bases, Fish Camouflage, Marine Biology, Flower Pollination, Fungal Dissections, and Genetics. This new event was so well-received that registration reached capacity within just 20 hours of opening! The STEM Expo was a huge success. One parent responded to our event survey by stating that she loved that the event “showed the girls different professions they could be when they grow up.”

As a Girl Scout Community Partner, the EEB GSO Outreach Committee has become self-supported in continued outreach endeavors, since all donations received are used to fund future outreach events. This progress has allowed EEB graduate students to continue to innovate their outreach efforts in the broader community. Most recently, under the leadership of Emily Arsenault, they have expanded their efforts to create educational displays and kits for outdoor activities in a “Nature Center” Yurt at Hidden Valley Camp in Lawrence.

EEB Graduate Students Outreach Committee and others that contribute to Girl Scouts: Kaila Colyott (Girl Scout Liaison), Andrew Mongue (Girl Scout Liaison), Sally Chang (Co-Chair), Emily Arsenault (GS Module Leader), Anna Klompen (Co-Chair), Kaylee Herzog, Alex Erwin (Girl Scout Liaison), Haifa Alhadyian, Steven Baca, Keely Brown, Matt Girard, Lucas Hemmer, Jacob Hopkins, Jack Hruska, Matt Jones, Amanda Katzer, Eleanor Stewart-Jones (KU Chemistry Club), Cindy Ly,Ryan Ridder, and Paula Roy.

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