Another great idea I was introduced to at Connects 2018 is Squishy Circuits. This is an easy way to get kids to build electrical circuits and would work with girls as young as Sparks. Basically you make two types of play dough, one with lots of salt that will conduct electricity and one with lots of sugar that acts as an insulator. If you connect them to a power source you can then make LEDs light up, motors spin etc.
The idea was developed by Dr. AnnMarie Thomas. Here is a short TEDtalk by her, explaining how the circuits work.
The Squishy Circuit website contains recipes for each kind of dough and lots of suggestions for projects. The Guider presenting this at Connect commented that the dough stores well in sealed containers.
Understanding algorithms is an important programming skill. But it doesn’t have to be taught though programming. Many of the base concepts for programming algorithms can be found in skills like baking, knitting or origami. Knitting patterns are especially great because they include if statements (if making size small then cast on 30 stitches etc.), for loops (repeat for next 30 rows) and while loops (repeat until 20 cms long).
Origami doesn’t often have while loops but the concept of step by step directionless still stands. If you have girls who get frustrated with the instructions, ask them how they would improve them. Do they need better definitions of what the words mean? Do more steps need to be added? Did they accidentally skip a step? Or add one that isn’t there?
You might want to have one basic design for everyone to make and a more complex one for those girls who are really experienced or pick up the design quickly.
This is another activity idea from, Canada Learning Code for Code Week. Like BasketBots this one can be done entirely off line while still learning skills related to programming. In Alexa, How Might We..? the girls are asked to propose a new app for a voice assistant (like Alexa, Siri or OK Google) to solve specific problems. The girls then need to define the 4Cs of the problem: Components, Characters, Challenges and Characteristics (of the desired outcome).
The first week in December Canada Learning Code sponsors a Code Week the first week in December. I know a lot of units meet in places were accessing computers would be difficult. My unit meets in a church basement and even cell signal is really iffy. So I liked that Canada Learning Code has included a number of unplugged activity that still teach the basics of coding. BasketBots involves pairing the girls off. Once girl will be the robot and do just what the partner (the programmer) tells her to do. The aim is to have the bot throw a ball though a basket ball hoop. If you don’t meet in a room suitable for ball throwing, you could instead Do the Robot which is basically the same activity but with random activities like opening a book, or opening a door.
This lovely crest has been developed by Engineers Canada as part of their Engaging Girls program. Their website reads:
Engineers Canada has developed and released a Girl Guides crest, to be presented to Girl Guides who complete engineering-related activities under the supervision of a professional engineer or an engineer-in-training. These activities—such as those that present an understanding of how vehicles work, the concept of simple machines, how lipstick is made, to name just a few—expose young girls to the engineering that can be found in everyday life and give them an understanding of how the world around them works.
Anyone interested in using the crest can contact Engineers Canada to confirm conditions of use and order required quantities.
If you have an engineer coming into your meeting to do a presentation to the girls, you may want to inquire about the crest. Contact information in on the Engaging Girls page.
This week we finished working on the Invention badge. We’ve taken our ideas from the Meeting In A Box: Inventing from Quebec.
This week we split the girls up into two groups. Each group did a different activity at one end of the gym and then we switched. We have a large unit so this gave each girl more of an opportunity to participate.
At one end of the gym we ran Invention Jeopardy using the questions from the meeting in a box.
At the other end of the gym we ran Inventor Speed Improv.
This was an exciting night because for some of our third year girls this was the last challenge they needed to finish their squares. Just a few pieces of the Lady BP challenge to finish off for them now.
This week we started working on the Invention badge. I’ve been looking at this badge for a couple of years and I had difficulty figuring out how to make it fun. Luckily for me, other Guiders had more luck. We’re using the Meeting In A Box: Inventing as our guide. But I also found some great ideas from the Caladonia Girl Guides. We’re going to spread the badge out over two weeks so we don’t need to feel rushed.
This week we worked mostly in Patrols. We started with the intro activity and had each patrol discuss what inventors they knew, whether or not they thought they could be an inventor and what qualities you’d need to be an inventor. They shared their thoughts at horseshoe after our opening.
Then we went onto the second activity. Each patrol was give four current inventions to use as inspiration. They had to combine and two of them into a new invention. Then prepare a poster and a skit marketing their invention.