Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) issues are a key priority for both Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri and the nation.

Girl Scouts has launched Imagine Your STEM Future, a new, free series designed to engage high school girls in STEM subjects and inspire them to pursue STEM careers. The series, which can be delivered in four to eight sessions, will be rolled out and available for schools or other hosting sites this fall.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM careers are growing at five times the rate of other occupations, with nine of the 10 fastest-growing occupations demanding significant scientific or math training by the year 2018.

A study from the Girl Scout Research Institute, Generation STEM: What Girls Say About Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, found that 74 percent of girls are interested in STEM and 82 percent see themselves as “smart enough to have a career in STEM,” but few girls list STEM careers as a top choice.

“When today’s girls graduate from college, America will need 3 million more scientists and engineers,” said Bonnie Barczykowski, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri CEO. “Even though girls have the skills and aptitude, they start leaving science to boys as early as middle school.

“We are excited about the STEM opportunities we provide our girls and the outcomes from these programs. A recent STEM program resulted in 82 percent of girls saying they are more confident in their science abilities. Our STEM programs are one way Girl Scouts fills the gap in preparing our girls to be tomorrow’s leaders.”

Imagine Your STEM Future is designed to be flexible. It is a four-unit series that can be conducted in either four 90-minute sessions or eight 45-minute sessions. During the series, girls will have the opportunity to:

Team up to do STEM experiments;

Learn about and meet female scientists who can serve as role models; and

Explore STEM careers in areas that most interest them.

Activities vary by discipline to make the series interesting for a broad range of girls from grades nine to 12. Because the series aligns with National Education Curriculum Standards, it can be used by schools to complement curricula or as an after-school series, in spring break camp or in other venues.

As one example of its STEM activities, Girl Scouts has supported an all-girl robotics teams since 2009 in the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL), grades four to eight, and Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr. FLL), grades kindergarten to third and FIRST®Tech Challenge (grades nine to 12).

Girl Scouts were also part of the Imagine series pilot in 2011-2012, serving more than 330 girls.

The National Council for Research on Women found that girls are more successful in math and science programs that incorporate a cooperative, hands-on approach than in programs that stress competition and individual learning.

Imagine Your STEM Future is specifically designed to engage girls in hands-on, cooperative STEM activities during an important time in their lives, when they start to think about a career.

Imagine Your STEM Future was piloted in 2012 with more than 6,000 under-represented teenage girls across the United States (including at Washington High School) and the results were extremely positive.

In post-evaluation research done by the Girl Scout Research Institute, girls said that the series increased their interest in STEM, led them to become more informed about STEM careers, helped them realize how important it is to take math and science in school, strengthened their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities and increased their confidence in their STEM skills.

For more information on Imagine Your STEM Future, people should contact Michelle Johnson, grant programs manager, at 314.592.2344 or