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Materials Science Professor, Students Engage Girl Scouts in Interactive Energy Projects

By: Cienna Madrid   Published 2:38 pm / November 27, 2017

Two women smiling before girl scouts

Claire Xiong and Girl Scout STEM program specialist Traci Swift promote sustainable energy.

Claire Xiong, an assistant professor in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering, recently received a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award aimed at boosting student interest in STEM fields and building youth energy literacy in non-school settings. In support of these goals, Xiong recently collaborated with Boise State University’s Service-Learning program to introduce STEM to the Girl Scouts of Silver Sage.

Boise State students enrolled in Xiong’s materials for energy sustainability course developed a deeper understanding of energy sustainability by creating interactive group projects and presenting them to the Girl Scouts.

In addition, the scouts participated in hands-on projects to discover the important role of materials in solving the most critical problem of our time: sustainable energy. Participants discovered how advanced functional materials play a role in the creation of windmills, solar cells and hydropower. They also learned about the process of identifying materials that might have less environmental impact. A key take-away was discovering how to retrieve the information necessary to propose their own solutions to material-related problems. Stimulating this level of confidence promotes curiosity in STEM and is an important factor in educating tomorrow’s workforce.

The scouts created things like solar cells and slime during this service-learning project.

Girl Scouts at a craft table.

Girl scouts work on interactive energy projects.

When asked about the one thing she learned about solar power, one scout replied, “You can make electricity out of blackberry juice!”

Another scout said, “My favorite activity was about wind power because we got to create a windmill.”

Through these interactive projects, scouts were able to earn their badges and engage in fun science-based projects, which could propel their interest in STEM fields later on in life.

“Rarely have I seen my daughter so engaged,” said one parent.

Boise State’s Service-Learning program connects classrooms with the community through capacity-building partnerships. These connections enhance student learning, address critical community issues and encourage students to be active citizens in their local, national and global communities.