Time needed: 45–60 minutes
Picture your future self and the life you want to lead. What is your vision for the kind of work you are doing? Do you see yourself in scrubs helping people who are sick or injured, in a white lab coat testing new chemical formulas, or out in the field taking measurements to survey land with a team of developers?
What career fits your passions? A career is more than a job. When your career matches your interests, it offers opportunities for you to grow, help others, and make an impact in your field. High school is a great time to start exploring your interest in STEM so that when it comes time to apply for colleges, you know exactly what you’re passionate about—and why!
Explore careers in STEM by learning about six different STEM fields and completing a challenge for each field.
Field One: Computer Science
The field of computer science focuses on the study of computers, the internet, and how they’re used. A computer programmer’s job is to write code that can build websites, animate movies, design apps, program video games, and so much more. There are also cybersecurity professionals who keep computer networks, systems, and information safe.
Here are some ways you can make a difference with a career in computer science:
To explore what it’s like to have a career in computer science, imagine you’re a programmer writing code for a computer to follow. Draw a simple image, like a robot or a house. Then, give a friend step-by-step instructions, or an algorithm, to recreate it. Don’t let them see your drawing. They should only follow your instructions! After, compare the two images. Did you end up with the same result? Could you use a different algorithm to get the same result?
Field Two: Creative Technology and Design
The field of creative technology and design combines art, design, and computer science to create things that are both useful and fun, from apps to sound effects. For example, people working in the field might build clothes that light up or respond when the weather is hot or cold. They might design buildings or new products, from sneakers to lighting systems, using computer software. They might even build their ideas with technology like a 3D printer.
Here are some ways you can make a difference with a career in creative technology and design:
To explore what it’s like to have a career in creative technology and design, pretend you are a visual designer applying for your dream job. Design a logo that brands you and your future in STEM. What’s your personal vision for the future? What are your qualifications? What are the special features of your logo? How does it communicate your message? What technology is involved in creating and sharing it?
Field Three: Engineering
The field of engineering focuses on building things like bridges, cars, and other products. Engineers look for ways to improve and create new products that make life easier and more efficient. Engineers may work in many different areas, with careers designing things like prosthetics for the medical field, agricultural systems to grow more food, or clean energy systems that aren’t harmful to the environment.
Here are some ways you can make a difference with a career in engineering:
To explore what it’s like to have a career in engineering, test out and improve brakes to work their best. Analyze your bicycle or scooter brakes, or ask a friend to borrow theirs. Test the brakes. Then, if it’s your bike or scooter, use tools to adjust the brakes. If needed, replace the brakes with new ones and adjust for the best function. Compare how they work before and after. How did you decide on the final adjustment? What would you change about the brakes’ design? Important note: Be sure to wear a helmet and protective equipment.
Field Four: Food and Agriculture
The field of food and agriculture focuses on growing, cooking, and consuming food. While you may think of a chef, baker, or farmer, there are tons of careers that help to feed the world!
Here are some ways you can make a difference with a career in food and agriculture:
To explore what it’s like to have a career in food and agriculture, take on the role of an agricultural engineer. Design a vertical garden to bring more fresh food to a community with little space for fields or beds. How can you make food more accessible? What spaces would your design work for? What are the dimensions? What materials will you use? How will the hydration system maximize water usage and plant growth?
Field Five: Health and Wellness
The field of health and wellness focuses on helping people. Medical professionals specialize in all different things, like treating patients (children, adults, or the elderly); studying a disease, such as cancer or diabetes; or becoming an expert on a part of the body, like the heart (cardiology) or brain (neurology).
Here are some ways you can make a difference with a career in health and wellness:
To explore what it’s like to have a career in health and wellness, take on the role of a medical scientist and conduct research to improve human health. Use magazines, newspapers, or another news source to find a product, practice, or trend that is hazardous to physical or mental health. Then research treatments that may be used. What kinds of warning signs do you see, or do you think should be included?
Field Six: Nature and the Environment
The field of nature and the environment focuses on science, nature, space, and the outdoors. People in this field might look at rocks and fossils, study plants or animals, go to space, or explore the ocean. There are also people whose job it is to take care of all different types of animals.
Here are some ways you can make a difference with a career in nature and the environment:
To explore what it’s like to have a career in nature and the environment, become a scientist by getting up close with nature around you. Go outside and remove a rock or layer of mulch. Look at the uncovered sample and collect quantitative data (using numbers) about the different organisms you see. How many ants are there? Pill bugs? Worms? Then collect qualitative, or descriptive, data. What is the soil like? What relationships exist? How might human impact affect this little ecosystem? What answers could you uncover from your observations?
And that’s it! You’ve explored STEM and how it can make a difference. Even more, you learned about different careers and completed challenges related to six different fields of STEM.
If you had fun doing this activity, you might want to continue exploring your interests and how you can make the world a better place with the Senior STEM Career Exploration badge.
If you want to continue learning more about STEM, search for STEM Journeys and Badges for Seniors on the Girl Scout Award and Badge Explorer.
Troop Leaders: The instructions for all badge steps are available free of charge in your Girl Scout Volunteer Toolkit. If you want to learn more about STEM careers, check out profiles and videos from IF/THEN Collection.
Girl Scout Activity Zone activities have been adapted from existing Girl Scout programming.