“Did you know that a STEM packet costs $12 per scout through the Girl Scouts?”
I did not know that! Did she know that I have a grant budget in rapid need of being spent on Digital Inclusion by February, far in excess of $12? I doubt it, but what I do know is that Daniela Allen has been to every event so far that I have attended in Shiprock. What I do know is that Daniela Allen is a born leader and never fails to know the local children by name. What I do know is that Daniela Allen encourages kids to keep trying, and finds little ways to build up their confidence no matter if their experiment was a success or a failure. What I didn’t know was that Daniela Allen is a Scout Leader, until she told me.
I think it was halfway through a rebuild of somewhat buggy controller she and I were helping her daughter with when it struck me that a girl scout troop could be a prime location to lend technology. Why not? For my outreaches in the area I have always brought MakeyMakey devices and laptops to aid in several activities, why not wrap up what I have done so far into a training for her and hook her up with laptops and MakeyMakey’s for a special tailored Girl Scout Discovery Lab. She was sold on the idea right away. I don’t really know what a $12 STEM packet through the Girl Scouts consists of, but I’d like to tell you what we plan to lend to troop #2009.
We’re planning on providing five laptops with the same native resources as we’ll be sending to Dine’ College Library, along with two Hotspots and 5 MakeyMakey devices. These can be used for digital Girl Scout badge activities as a troop, or even sent home with scouts for experimentation or to do homework. There are some up sides of this type of lending, for example all of the scouts likely live within the city limits of Shiprock, which means that the hotspots we lent them are much more likely to work with a scout’s family as opposed to a commuter student at Dine’ College. Having a troop leader who is as engaged in her community as Daniela Allen gives us an ally and an advocate that can find ways to use this technology with her scouts and their families in ways we honestly couldn’t. There are some differences however, a scout troop leader is one person, whereas a library has a larger staff able to split their time between patrons, and college students are less likely to damage devices (I was once a 9 year old too, and I broke so many things).
Just as we know that giving out devices to libraries without training and checkups is a half measure, we’re taking steps not to have half measures with the Girl Scouts as well. I will be hosting a training for Daniela Allen to troubleshoot and facilitate these devices as well as leaving an evaluation tool to measure what activities she is able to do with these devices. I will hold a promotional event for scouts and scout families to see and work with the devices, and I will have a monthly check in to troubleshoot the lab and see what I could do to further help optimize their experience.
In my next blog series I’d like to broad stroke analyze some activities we’ve been attempting in our outreaches, and talk about our successes and failures as well as what directions we’ll be headed in for the duration of the pilot and beyond.