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Girl Scouts Partner with Microsoft Corporation and MIT’s Media Lab For a Very Special Exhibition
Girl Scouts in grades 5 through 8 who spent the spring creating new software programs unveiled their digital creations during a summer exhibition at the Health Museum. More than 80 Houston Girl Scouts participated in this opportunity to pilot a children’s software language, called Scratch.
The Scratch partnership is one way that Microsoft, MIT and Girl Scouts USA are addressing both the need for more skilled IT workers in the US and the digital divide between boys and girls. Women currently constitute 42% of the US workforce, yet they comprise only 26% of the professional IT workforce. The US Government predicts that there will be a shortage of IT workers in within two years. Eight of the ten fastest growing careers through 2010 identified by the U.S. Department of Labor are computer-related.
The girls were trained to use Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu) by a female graduate student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab in April. Scratch was developed by a team at the MIT Media Lab and made available to Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council (GSSJC) through a grant from the Microsoft Corporation. Once the girls were familiar with Scratch, which allows them to create their own interactive stories, animations, games, music and art, they were able to come back to the exhibition to demonstrate their own unique computer programs. More than 13,000 projects have been posted on the Scratch community website since it launched in January 2007.
“Playing with Scratch was fun and interesting,” said Detria Turner. “I liked Scratch a lot because it allowed me to be creative and design something for everyone to see. Now that it is on my desktop, I know that I will use Scratch in the future.” The enthusiastic response by the girls who participated and their request for additional opportunities to work on technology projects demonstrates that girls are motivated to learn to design their own computer programs.
“We are so pleased that Girl Scouts of the USA chose our Council to implement the Microsoft grant and pilot an exciting new computer programming language,” said Mary McIntire, GSSJC president and dean of continuing studies at Rice University. “We are committed to giving girls the opportunity to explore new technologies and the chance to build on their areas of interest."
Girl Scouts of the USA is the world's preeminent organization for girls, with a membership of more than 3.7 million girls and adults. Today, as when founded in 1912, GSUSA helps cultivate values, social conscience, and self-esteem in young girls, while also teaching them critical life skills that will enable them to succeed as adults. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Chartered by GSUSA to provide Girl Scouting locally, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is one of the largest Girl Scout councils in the country serving over 63,000 girl members and 18,000 adults in 25 southeast Texas counties. For more information call 1-800-392-4340 or visit www.gssjc.org.
GSSJC Pluralism Statement
Embracing and promoting pluralism is an integral part of every activity and plan of Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, not disconnected or separate projects. Only individuals willing to accept and be educated about the basic tenet that Girl Scouting is for all girls may serve in volunteer leadership or staff positions.
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