Scouts and Girl Guides reach for the stars with a new Science and Engineering Careers Challenge
16 Apr 2020



A group of graduates working in the space sector have created a new, free challenge for Girlguiding and Scout groups that is designed to introduce different science and engineering careers to young people, through hands-on activities.

Brownies taking part in activities at RAL

​​​​​​Brownies taking part in activities at STFC​

Credit: STFC

​The challenge has been developed by graduates working at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) RAL Space facility. The team, who are all volunteers for Girlguiding and Scout groups, drew on their own experience working in the space sector to develop a collection of activities to introduce young people to the kinds of jobs you can do with science, technology, engineering and maths skills.  

There are 20 activities to choose from, including creating an electronic playdough circuit, making a rain gauge, completing a coding obstacle course and exploring beyond the solar syst​​​em. 

Scouts and Guides can work to earn the badge at home with adult supervision or in unit meeting time - online or in person.  

​Team leader Kate Winfield said their aim was “to create a challenge that is fun and engaging, and at the same time explores the diverse range of science and engineering careers found at S​TFC. All too often students are told to go into these fields not knowing how big these areas are. There are so many different types of science and engineering jobs out there!"  

The challenge pack​ ​contains activity instructions as well as background information about real careers and opportunities that young people, careers advisors, teachers and parents might otherwise not know exist.  

Scouts and Guides can find out about data scientists, physicists and mechanical engineers, amongst others, and find out about the work they do to help make a space mission successful. The 'Edible Rover' activity then puts young people in the mechanical engineer role to design a Mars rover that can survive the demanding conditions during launch and operation in space. 

Ryan Smith, Scout section leader said, “By taking part in the challenge, Scouts and Girl Guides can start to develop skills they would need for a future career in science or engineering. In my job as an Electronic Engineer I use skills that I developed as a Scout like problem-solving, creativity and using imagination. By taking part in the challenge I hope that the next generation of Scouts and Girl Guides can learn that anyone can become a scientist or engineer." 

The challenge was funded by the STFC graduate scheme and from the STFC Public Engagement Spark Award to produce the badges, which can be ordered upon completion of the challenge.  


STFC Public Engagement Spark award 

The Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) Spark awards encourage and support new activities that highlight and introduce our science and technology to new audiences. Activities eligible for funding include those that focus on STFC's science programme of astronomy, solar and planetary science, particle physics, particle astrophysics, cosmology, nuclear physics and accelerator science, or are connected to the science and technology work of STFC's national and international laboratories and facilities. Find out how to app​ly for a Spark award​.

Image: Challenge Pack team leader Kate Winfield testing the software engineering activity. Credit: Kate Winfield​