The SETI Institute's "Reaching for the Stars" astronomy badging program celebrates with 7,000 Girl Scouts as they "bridge" from Juniors to Cadettes in San Francisco, California.
Last Saturday, 7,000 girls, both local and out of state, walked across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco as they bridged from being Juniors to Cadettes. The walk was followed by a festival on Crissy Field with music, snacks, and fun activity booths. Girl Scouts of Northern California organized this large annual event. 2018 marked the 37th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridging, which began as a local event with a contingent of just about 300.
The SETI Institute, along with other Girl Scouts Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts (Girl Scout Stars) partners the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Girl Scouts of Northern California (GS NorCal), and Rockman et al, offered interactive astronomy activities for Girl Scouts at the 2018 celebration.
Through the Girl Scout Stars program, the SETI Institute and its partners are developing space science badges for girls at every Girl Scout program level as a pathway for girls to develop a lifetime love of the cosmos and foster their enthusiasm for STEM. This August, the first three badges will be introduced: Space Science Explorer for Daisies, Space Science Adventurer for Brownies and Space Science Investigator for Juniors. Badges for Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors will be introduced in 2019.
The variable weather last weekend did not cool enthusiasm as girls and adults visited the activity booths, danced to music, and picnicked on the field. The partners featured multiwavelength astronomy images, invisible light detection, spectra, the Girls Go To Mars patch program, and a telescope at the ‘astronomy row.’ They were supported by Girl Scout and amateur astronomer volunteers. Lots of ‘aha’ moments occurred over the course of the day. Girls were able to make their own "swap" (Special Whatchamacallit Affectionately Pinned Somewhere), with UV detection beads with Space Science Badge sticker, a reminder of the upcoming badge release dates. One team member made and traded astronomy themed swaps with a few hundred girls.
Some of the GS NorCal Daisy, Brownie, and Junior space science badge test troops and volunteers stopped by to share how much fun and how engaging they found the badges. Cadette Scouts were excited about the upcoming Space Science Researcher Badge. Girl Scouts of Northern California’s Astronomy Club, supported by Girl Scout Stars, recruited new club members as they shared their own astronomy expertise.