Meet the Supergirls, a robotics team that invented a battery-operated page-turner. The device helps people who are paralyzed, people who have arthritis, and people without arms or hands to read more easily. On its own, this invention is amazing, but what makes it even more incredible is that it was invented and built by a group of then six-year-old Girl Scout Daisies. The troop from Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma was rewarded for their efforts with a trip to the White House Science Fair where they showcased their invention and were personally congratulated by President Barack Obama.
The Supergirls came up with the idea for the page-turner at a 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 they wanted to make books more fun and accessible for everyone.
“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. From there, they caught the attention of the White House, and the rest is history!
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 Girl Scout troop #411. This standout troop consists of the five original Supergirls and ten additional girls who wanted to get in on the fun and learning.
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!”
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 showerhead that slows to a trickle while a person shampoos her hair, keeping the water warm for when it’s time to rinse. What’s more, they became 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 within the past. And despite being the youngest students in the competition, their robot placed ninth out of 23 teams at their regional qualifier.
Suzanne touched on the challenges the girls faced and overcame over the course of their recent competition season. “At one time, their robot’s motor died in the middle of competition, and 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!
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.”
The Supergirls, along with the rest of this incredible 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.
The lesson? With Girl Scouts, there’s no dream too big, even for a girl as little as five years old. 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.
Curious to see how far your girl’s confidence can soar? Learn more.