Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois (GSSI) has received a $25,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund to support Girl Scout STEM Robotics Programs in the Metro East. This has been a continuous act of support for five consecutive years from 2014-2018. GSSI was also awarded a $20,000 Monsanto Fund Grant in 2013.
Robotics are a key component of GSSI’s commitment to giving girls opportunities and guidance in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). GSSI aims to engage more girls across Southern Illinois in STEM, so that they can explore valuable career options, build critical thinking and technical skills, and sustain a lifelong interest in topics that many girls drift away from around middle school.
“We are extremely grateful to be able to offer every girl in Southern Illinois the opportunity to participate in STEM programs through continued support from the Monsanto Fund,” said Mary Buchanan, GSSI Robotics Manager. “Competing in these robotics tournaments requires commitment, critical thinking, and teamwork. Funding for this program is made possible partially by support we receive from the Monsanto Fund and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
The grant will help fund GSSI’s robotics season which starts this fall with FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®). In this global robotics program for 9 to 14 year olds, participants build and program a robot using LEGO components. Teams also conduct a research project and explore FLL Core Values such as active participation, teamwork and gracious professionalism. After months of practice and preparation, teams begin competing at regional tournaments, with the highest scoring teams proceeding to a global tournament.
The grant money will also be used to support several FIRST Lego League Junior (FLLJr.®) teams In 2018, GSSI had three teams compete in the FLL State Tournament in Illinois. The grant will also allow GSSI to purchase additional equipment to facilitate the robotics program, including robot kits and tablets. Financial assistance for girls who cannot afford the registration fee to join Girl Scouts will also be provided.
This grant is a part of a broad commitment by the Monsanto Fund focused on strengthening the Greater St. Louis community where the former Monsanto Company, now Bayer, is located.
Girl Scout Victoria Tarpley, who had been a member of a GSSI Robotics team herself, earned her Girl Scout Gold Award by using her passion and experience in robotics to mentor a local youth robotics team.
To reach additional children, Victoria also held STEM workshops at her local library, where she led hands-on activities and encouraged kids to see how exciting STEM could be, sharing that “STEM is such a huge part of everyday life, and STEM exploration should be encouraged and celebrated. I feel so lucky to have had this experience because it truly has taught me so much. I think that the leadership skills that I have gained throughout my project will translate into other parts of my life, including schoolwork and career path.”