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What it’s like to earn the Girl Guides Engineering Crest

2019.07.02

girls hands working on technical lego item

The Girl Guides Engineering Crest was created by Engineers Canada, in partnership with Girl Guides Canada, to give girls early, hands-on experiences with engineering-related activities. Participating girls have the opportunity to learn about engineering principles and complete age-appropriate activities designed and supervised by members of the engineering community. The activities—things like exploring how vehicles work, introducing the concept of simple machines, or experimenting with how lipstick is made—are designed to illustrate the many ways that engineering shapes everyday life.

We spoke with leaders and participants from the 6th Hammonds Plains Brownies—one of the more than one hundred groups participating in this program across the country—about their experiences with the program.

Please tell us about the members of your team, a bit about your community and how your team came to be.

Angie Veinot (leader): We are the 6th Hammonds Plains Brownies, located in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia. This season, our unit was made up of 23 girls, ages 7-9. As first-time leaders, we had to draw from our own experiences to help with programming. I’ve worked with consulting engineers for over 20 years and have seen a very low number of women working in the industry. It seemed like an easy fit and an exciting opportunity to open that door to our group of growing minds!

We were lucky enough to work with SuperNOVA through Dalhousie University to host a coding night with our unit. The girls loved the robots and seeing how they could make the robots move around using different colour markers and patterns to program them! Keeping on the engineering theme, we structured our winter sleepover around engineering activities. Through a rather large donation of Lego to Girl Guides, we were able to play a game that would challenge the girls to use random pieces to individually build a structure, allowing them to be as creative as they wanted. Each girl was sent home with a set of Lego, so she could continue designing and building!

The girls also worked in groups to design and build structures out of marshmallows, toothpicks, and spaghetti. Each group was given a large piece of paper, so they could sketch out their ideas before the build, and they worked together during the build to adjust their design as they realized some of the issues with using the provided materials. As part of our career night, the girls were introduced to many parent volunteers who joined us to talk about their careers, including a mom who is an environmental engineer. After the event, girls worked on career boards and worksheets, with several noting that they enjoyed talking to “the engineer” and were thinking about that as a career choice!

These events introduced the girls to engineering, and also showed them how we use “engineering” in things we do every day! I hope we’ve inspired the girls to consider engineering as a possible career choice!

What was your favourite part of your experience working on the crest? What was most surprising and what did you learn?

Gemma (brownie): My favourite parts of working towards the engineering crest was building a tower with Lego. I love building, and it was neat to see what the tower was going to look like at the end. Also, I didn’t know that when we were working on the robots that they were smart enough to follow a black line on the ground wherever it went.

Mayah (brownie): My favourite part was working on the Lego build. The challenge was to use random pieces of Lego to build your own thing and you could be as creative as you wanted. When we used the marshmallows to build our structures, they did not stick together very well because they were too soft. So, together as a team we, had to figure out how to build a stronger structure. It was fun to sketch out our ideas on paper while we were building. It really helped us decide how we should build our structure.

Leigha (brownie): My favorite part was building the structures with Lego! I was amazed at how many cool things we could build! One group built a house that was awesome. The most fun part about building the marshmallow and stick figures was that we worked together as a team.

Reese (brownie): My favourite part was building things at the sleepover!

How did the engineering crest activity influence your understanding of engineering?

Gemma: It help me understand that there are loads of different types of engineering jobs.

Mayah: Engineers really need to focus on what they are doing because the details matter. There are lots of different kinds of engineers.

Leigha: I know that engineers get to design really cool buildings and type on computers. They get to make stuff like bridges, buildings, and roads, and solve all kinds of problems!

Reese: I know now there are different kinds of engineers.

How do you think engineering will continue to be part of your future, in school, in guiding, or other ways?

Gemma: I think it will be a part of my career. I have been thinking about becoming an electrical engineer when I grow up. It seems like an interesting and awesome job.

Mayah: Yes! There are all kinds of ways that I use engineering. I really like math and making patterns too. And I really like building stuff. I hope we do more activities like this in Brownies next year. It was a lot of fun.

Leigha: I can use engineering to build paper airplanes, and it will help me earn more guiding badges and help me solve problems. I can use the knowledge of engineering to help me build the stuff that I need and build fires and set up tents at guides.

Reese: Yes, she I love building things and solving problems!

Visit explorenegineering.ca if you are interested in learning more about the Engineering crest.