The Supergirls: Daisy Scientists Become Brownie STEM Superstars
Back in 2015, the Supergirls, a robotics team of then six-year-old Girl Scout Daisies from Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma, invented a battery-operated page-turner for people with arthritis, people who are paralyzed, and people who don’t have arms, showcasing their invention to former President Barack Obama at the 2015 White House Science Fair. It was a shining example of just how much girls at every age can accomplish when they’re given the support they need to unleash their G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ potential early and often.
The Supergirls came up with their awesome invention at the 2014 FIRST Lego League Junior “Think Tank” Challenge, where they were tasked with looking at tools used in education and building something based on that. The girls decided to have a brainstorming session to see if they could think of any improvements to everyday items—like books!
“During this brainstorming session and another session with a school librarian, the girls started thinking about how much they loved to read, and how difficult it was for grandparents (with arthritis) and people without arms to turn pages in a book,” explained the girls’ troop leader, Suzanne Dodson. “That’s when they decided to go above and beyond the challenge requirements and build their own prototype!”
Later that year, when Girl Scouts of the USA put out a call for STEM projects and stories, Suzanne submitted the girls’ invention, and that’s how they ended up at the famed DC science fair.
Today, the Supergirls are nine-year-old Girl Scout Brownies who have continued to fuel their passion for STEM and beyond, while accomplishing amazing things as part of Troop #411. This standout troop consists of the five original Supergirls, two new robotics teammates, and eight additional girls.
Suzanne believes that being recognized for their achievements at such a young age has boosted the girls’ confidence in school and their willingness to try new things. For one, they’ve developed the ability to look at a “big problem” without feeling overwhelmed or thinking it’s too hard. Through Girl Scouts, they’ve learned to break challenges down into smaller, manageable components.
“Girl Scout is a safe place for girls to try, fail, and then try again until they succeed,” Suzanne said. “Whether they’re building a robot, starting a campfire, or stepping up to lead a badge project in a troop meeting, the Girl Scout experience lets girls expand their horizons and experiment with leadership skills from a young age. Even a five-year-old can be a leader when given a chance!”
“Whether they’re building a robot, starting a campfire, or stepping up to lead a badge project in a troop meeting, the Girl Scout experience lets girls expand their horizons and experiment with leadership skills from a young age. Even a five-year-old can be a leader when given a chance!”
Since the White House Science Fair, the Supergirls have designed additional unique inventions, including a “smart trashcan” that’s prompted via motion sensor to ask whether an article is truly trash or can be recycled, and a water-saving shower head that slows to a trickle while a person shampoos her hair, keeping the water warm for when it’s time to rinse. How cool is that? What’s more, this year (2017), the Supergirls were the only third-grade team in Oklahoma to take part in a FIRST Lego League tournament usually reserved for kids in the fourth through eighth grades. They rose to the challenge and built a far more complicated robot than they’d worked with in the past. And despite being the youngest kids in the competition, their robot placed ninth out of 23 teams at their regional qualifier—so awesome!
- Supergirl Emery presents the team's water saving showerhead prototype.
- Supergirl Pari proudly holds one of her team's robots.
Suzanne touched on the challenges the girls faced and overcame over the course of their recent competition season—some interesting times, to say the least. “The most memorable has to be when their robot had a motor die in the middle of competition, and at one point was spinning in circles with only one motorized wheel,” she explained. “They had less than an hour to perform what they called ‘emergency robot surgery’ to replace the motor before their next competitive match, and they completed the operation just in time.”
One of the Supergirls, nine-year-old Emily B., has been forever changed by her Girl Scout and robotics competition experiences. “Lego League has been life-changing, because if I hadn’t had the chance to build robots with Legos and work with my friends, I think I would be a very different person than who I am today.” Clearly, instead of just imagining possibilities, Emily is seeing firsthand what she’s capable of—and at such a young age!
“If I hadn’t had the chance to build robots with Legos and work with my friends, I think I would be a very different person than who I am today.”
Emery D., also nine, loves doing robotics and being a Girl Scout. “It [Girl Scouts and robotics] let me try new things. I’ve learned that it’s OK to make mistakes, because I can learn from them and do better next time.” Knowing that it’s not about succeeding the first time around but about learning and growing? Not being afraid to try again? That’s so Girl Scouts.
“I’ve learned that it’s OK to make mistakes, because I can learn from them and do better next time.”
The Supergirls, along with the rest of their barrier-breakin’ troop, have a wide range of interests among them. The girls enjoy camping, singing, selling Girl Scout Cookies, playing the piano, soccer, reading, and more. They’ve even started leading their own Girl Scout badge projects in their Brownie troop meetings—way to take the lead like a Girl Scout, girls!
So whether your girl is interested in STEM, art, the outdoors, sports, helping others, going on adventures with her friends, and/or just about anything in between, there’s a place for her at Girl Scouts. With us, she’ll have countless opportunities to try new things, make meaningful connections, discover what she’s passionate about, and unleash her full potential—starting as young as five and all the way into adulthood.
Curious to see how far your girl’s confidence can soar? Learn more.