Gold Award Project Increases Interest in STEM


Did you know that 81% of all high school girls are interested in pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers, but only 13% say it is their first choice, with about half of all girls believing that STEM isn’t a typical career path for girls? (Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math2012)

Rachel Binish, now a Girl Scout alumna, is on a mission to change the myth that girls are not meant for careers in STEM.

“My first real experience with STEM wasn’t until I was in high school and I loved it,” says Rachel. She was one of 16 students from Benilde-St. Margaret’s School to attend the 2013 RoboCup in The Netherlands. This international robotics competition challenged teams to create a robot to assist humans in a disaster setting.

With that accomplishment under her belt, Rachel’s next undertaking was completing her Girl Scout Gold Award project, the highest and most prestigious honor in Girl Scouts.

With her love of STEM in mind, Rachel knew just what she wanted to address – the lack of girls interested in STEM. She reached out to elementary-aged girls and introduced them to basic science and engineering concepts through “Discover Kits.” The interactive kits included instructional videos and materials to conduct experiments.

“I had the girls fill out surveys after the program, and I had a lot of positive feedback. It was really rewarding hearing from instructors that the girls really enjoyed learning about STEM. The kits are still used to this day at my local after-school care program,” shares Rachel.

Because of Rachel’s Gold Award project, young girls from her area have more STEM opportunities, helping increase girl interest in these fields.

Currently, Rachel is in her sophomore year at the University of Minnesota, where she is studying chemical engineering. Her passion for STEM has carried over into her career path, and she is proof that girls and young women can succeed in STEM fields.