They’re more than just cookies

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For many, cookies and crafts are all that come to mind when we see a  Girl Scout, an image that Carol M. Dedrich, the chief external relations officer of the Greater Los Angeles Girl Scout Council, has been trying to dispel. As Dedrich explained, the Girl Scout program is about promoting l e a d e r s h i p , life skills and community service. Last Sunday’s Girl Scout Family Science Festival was part of the effort to promote this persona.

After a national survey of Girl Scouts showed that climate change was a common area of concern, it became the theme for this year’s festival held at Glendale Community College. Present at the festival were organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers, the American Chemical Society and the JPL Green Club, all of them encouraging the Scouts to excel in school and be more aware of various environmental concerns. Many different Girl Scout units showcased their science projects, like the Scouts from unit 1204 who presented World Water Monitoring Day, supported by an organization that sends out water analysis kits to volunteers who sample and report on various local water sources.

Perhaps the best booth was the robotics showcase. Girl Scouts young and old learned how to assemble, design, and program robots for a competition where their robot will have to complete various tasks.

The keynote speaker at the event was Dr. JoBea Holt who represented the Al Gore Climate Project. Holt, who worked as an earth scientist at JPL for 25 years, spoke to the assembled Girl Scouts about recent environmental trends and the history of the use of carbon fuels. She encouraged the girls to study and become part of the solution to global warming. When asked during a later interview, Holt explained that in spite of a recent trend toward environmental awareness, the use of carbonbased energy is still on the rise.

The assembled youth also heard from Rudy Perez, a solar program manager who works for Edison International. He spoke about the evolution of alternative energies such as solar, wind, and geothermal. He also talked about what everyone could do to help the environment, everything from adjusting the thermostat to taking advantage of rebates from Southern California Edison and installing solar panels.

The science festival comes after a recent merger of six Girl Scout Councils that now form the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, a merger that, according to the council’s CEO, has  made available more opportunities and resources for all the Girl Scout units in the area. This first festival since the merger has shown that the new structure of the council will benefit the Girl Scouts of the Greater Los Angeles area