Meet the Chuck McLane Scholarship Recipients

Earning a Gold Award—the highest achievement in Girl Scouts—opens an incredible number of doors for girls. Thanks to a grant from the Arconic Foundation, annually, from 2013 to 2017, two Girl Scout Gold Award recipients who completed or will complete an exceptional Gold Award project that incorporates science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have received or will receive the Chuck McLane Scholarship. Scholarship recipients are shining examples of what Girl Scouts is all about—building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Utilizing STEM, these amazing young women addressed serious problems and created lasting change that made a significant impact on their communities, across the nation, and around the world.


2017 Scholarship Recipients
 

Ashley MartinGirl Scouts of North-Central Alabama
University of Georgia
Genetics

Ashley developed a high school–level biology curriculum that provides an unbiased overview of genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms. To encourage students to develop their own opinions on this important issue, the three-day course summarizes basic genetics and commonly used methods for genetic modification. The curriculum also includes lecture notes, slides, quizzes, handouts, a lab exercise, and a list of resources for further learning—all of which total more than 100 pages of free material. Ashley piloted the curriculum in a small 14-person class and administered pre- and post-course quizzes to measure the program's impact, finding that post-course results jumped an average of 43 percentage points. Ashley's goal is to inspire students to think critically, consider issues from multiple points of view, and enjoy science. She has posted the curriculum bundle on two popular websites for professional teachers and homeschoolers as well as discussed it on social media. As of May 2017, the curriculum has been viewed or downloaded more than 400 times.
 

Nishita SinhaGirl Scouts of Northern New Jersey
Harvard College
Physics and Electrical Engineering

Nishita created an inexpensive, easy-to-implement way to address unsafe waste management in the developing world. After learning that 2.4 billion people worldwide lack access to safe, in-home toilets, Nishita developed a safer, more efficient filter for waste systems distributed by Sulabh International (an India-based social service organization). She also augmented these filters with low-voltage electric fields using inexpensive solar panels to increase filter lifespan. The new filters more effectively removed pathogens from liquid waste and increased Sulabh toilet safety by 83 percent when compared to the same devices without the enhanced system. To date, 150 of the improved filters have been installed in Northern India, where residents report that the filters are simple to use and maintain and that cases of diarrhea and other illnesses caused by poor waste management have decreased. 

 

2016 Scholarship Recipients
 

Morgan Barron—Girl Scouts of Utah
University of Utah
Mechanical Engineering

Morgan engineered an inexpensive water-conserving device she calls “Raincloud” to provide humanitarians with a simple design to allow hand washing in areas without water infrastructure. Her device will revolutionize hygiene and help to decrease the prevalence of disease and unnecessary deaths in underresourced countries. Morgan emailed all Girl Scout councils, Boy Scout councils, and Red Cross chapters in the United States in order to publicize her device, encourage leadership awards for engineering solutions, and jump-start project sustainability on a global scale through the Internet. Inspired by a group of humanitarian engineers, she put her designs and procedures online and shared her website with universities, nonprofit organizations, and supranational organizations. Morgan is a part of the global sustainability and development cohort of the Lassonde Studios at the University of Utah where she aspires to raise the bar for “humanitarian engineering.”
 

Akshitha Ramachandran—Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts
Harvard College
Computer Science

Akshitha created Breakground to teach elementary school girls that computer science is not an intimidating subject. She created a “Hackathon” and a hands-on curriculum to introduce students to coding technology platforms such as AppInventor, Lego Mindstorm, and Code.org with the goal of teaching them about pseudo-coding and analytical thinking. She expanded her project through a partnership with the Winchester, Massachusetts, recreation department to offer six-week classes and raised funding to expand it to a small Montessori school in Chennai, India. Akshitha also developed, with four other girls, a concussion-testing app to be utilized by athletes and coaches, and has filed a patent for the workflow of the testing process (US Patent No. 14/735,537).

 

2015 Scholarship Recipients
 

Zahra Hajee—Girl Scouts of Northern California
University of California, Los Angeles
Neuroscience

Zahra created Camp Evergreen, a five-day environmental enrichment program during which students learn how to provide innovative solutions for a sustainable future. She raised funding and support to engage over 350 volunteers at “Creek Care” events across the state of California. Camp Evergreen has partnered with the YMCA to provide enrichment ecology curriculum at elementary school campuses statewide, has been featured on a nationally aired Disney Channel segment, and has received honors from the state government and from President Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama. Zahra aspires to be an entrepreneur and ambassador in the field of neuroscience.
 

Uma Mahajan—Girl Scouts of Northern California
Case Western Reserve University
Medicine/Systems Biology-Bioinformatics

In partnership with 15 companies, Uma organized an event called “Science Today for Tomorrow” for more than 700 children and families. The event introduced the youngsters to FIRST LEGO League Robotics to increase their interest in STEM and natural disaster preparedness. Uma also started the first robotics team at a Title I elementary school—where there is now a specialist who will continue engaging diverse, disadvantaged students to participate on the team—and the school district is now pushing to create more teams. Uma envisions her future career will combine medicine, electronics, engineering, biology, neuroscience, and more, to help others.

 

2014 Scholarship Recipients
 

Amber Barron—Girl Scouts of Utah
University of Utah
Materials Science and Engineering

Amber authored a comprehensive engineering fair curriculum, and raised $3,000 to offset the cost of engineering projects for fifth through twelfth grade students through 50 minigrants. She also created and maintains an Engineering Fair Curriculum website that hosts her curriculum and links to videos. The curriculum is being used with national STEM educational organizations, PTAs, state offices of education, Girl Scout councils, and schools in Utah. With advanced degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah, Amber aspires to work for NASA.
 

Morgan Ferone—Girl Scouts, Hornets’ Nest Council
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Biology, Religious Studies, Chemistry

To address the scant number of students studying physics in her community and inspire passion for the subject, Morgan created a five-lesson physics curriculum for third- to fifth-graders that included a demonstration video. In partnership with the Freedom Schools, a national organization in Charlotte, North Carolina, she trained 17 high school volunteers to help teach the lessons to 140 students during the summer of 2013. Freedom Schools agreed to incorporate it into their STEAM program for years to come.

 

2013 Scholarship Recipients
 

Kaitlyn Kanis—Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana
Abilene Christian University
Environmental Science and Chemistry

Kaitlyn’s Gold Award project engaged her community to design, build, and install 12 bat boxes for the Churubusco Community Park to help create a sustainable, environmentally friendly solution to combat the local mosquito problem and educate her community about the benefits of bats. Hear Kaitlyn’s advice for girls pursuing STEM careers and learn about her internship at Alcoa’s Lafayette Operations.

Gabriella Smith—Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts
Boston University
Biology

Gabriella promoted a deeper appreciation for Haggett’s Pond in Andover, Massachusetts, by using technology to create a map of the site’s trails. She also employed engineering and trigonometry skills to design a structurally sound kiosk and display case to house the map for visitors. In addition, she developed a website for visitors to access the map digitally, and a blog about the pond. Her project is educating the public on the existence and complexity of Andover’s natural resources.

 

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