Creating a new Girlguiding and Scout Challenge
16 Apr 2020



​​Kate is an Environmental Data Scientist in the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA), which is based within RAL Space, and led a team of graduates to create the new challenge.

Kate working with data on the JASMIN supercomputer

​​​​​​​​​​Kate Winfield gathering earth observation data and archiving data on the JASMIN supercomputer.​​​

Credit: STFC RAL Space.

She is responsible for providing data management support to researchers largely working in environmental and atmospheric sciences. Kate joined RAL Space as a graduate in 2017 following a physical geography degree at Coventry University and a placement year at CEDA.

Hi, I'm Kate - the leader of a team of RAL Space graduates who have designed a brand new science and engineering careers challenge​, suitable for all sections of Girlguiding and Scouts.

My Girlguiding journey started when I joined as a Brownie aged 7. I then progressed to become a Guide and took on the challenge of being a Young Leader at my local Brownie unit. I completed my Chief Guides award and Adult Leaders qualification at the age of 18 and became a qualified leader, and have continued Guiding ever since. I recently became Brown Owl of my unit in Abingdon.

During my time at RAL Space I have realised that all too often students are encouraged to go into science and engineering but many of us don't know how big these areas are. I had no idea there are so many different types of science and engineering jobs out there! 

I ​wanted to create a challenge badge that could help other scouts and guides explore the diverse range of science and engineering careers found at STFC in a fun and engaging way. Taking this all into account, I developed my idea into a graduate scheme project and recruited team members: Ryan Smith, Scout section leader; Louise McCaul, Barn Owl (Brownies leader in training) and Chris Parmenter, STEM Ambassador.

We spent many months turning our idea into a reality, including; writing a business case, applying for grants, creating activities, designing the badge and collating it all into a challenge pack​. We managed to secure funding from the STFC graduate scheme and a Public Engagemen​t Spark Award.

​​​​After all this preparation, it is now a real-life badge! There are currently 4750 badges on order with more on the way! In order to secure a badge and complete the challenge, Girlguiding and Scout groups must complete a range of activities relating to the jobs myself and my colleagues here at STFC do – from data scientists like me through to engineers, physicists and even science communicators. There are 20 activities to choose from which include creating an electronic playdough circuit, making an edible rover and rain gauge, completing a coding obstacle course, exploring beyond the solar system and lots more!

These activities can be completed at home with adult supervision or in your unit meeting time.

This project has enabled me and the rest of the team to use some of the skills we learned in our Scout and Girlguiding groups – like leadership and communication - as well as develop and explore new skills that w​e would not have had in our own normal day jobs (such as project management and grant proposal writing).

As the saying goes with Girlguiding, nothing will stop us!


Bottom: ​Kate testing a software engineering activity from the challenge badge pack. Credit: Kate Winfield.

For more information please email: RAL Space Enquiries.