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Girl Scouts can earn a badge by creating an app that creates a badge

Updated: April 28, 2012 8:10AM

Girl Scouts will learn to develop an app to create their first-ever virtual badge.

The girls will make their own badge that reflects their interests, so each will be different.

Girls will learn to create the Android app by taking “boot camps” led by Motorola Mobility employee volunteers. The new Girl Scout handbook counts the virtual badge as a regular badge, in addition to the more than 180 a Scout can earn throughout the scouting program. Girl Scouts already earn traditional badges for “netiquette,” website design, entertainment technology, digital moviemaking and becoming a computer expert.

The girls can share their virtual badge-creation experiences by creating videos of their progress or their interests and posting the videos on playlists on MentorMob, a Chicago-based learning-through-crowdsourcing service.

The regional Girl Scout Council announced the virtual badge program after it was selected among 900 contestants worldwide as one of 30 winners of grants from the MacArthur Foundation to develop digital badges to promote lifelong learning. The Girl Scout project won a $150,000 grant.

The program, “My Girl Scout Sash is an App,” aims to encourage girls ages 5-17, with an emphasis on those in middle and high school, to learn app development as a way of seeing computer programming and other science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) skills as career choices, said Maria Wynne, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

“Girls tend to drop out of these non-traditional studies as early as third or fourth grade, and it’s our responsibility to let them see how STEM skills can help in any aspect of their lives,” she said.

Bryn Reese, chief development officer with the Girl Scouts, said: “The idea is to allow a girl to ‘wear’ her sash of badges on her smartphone, her tablet or her computer.”

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