Teaching Girl Scouts
the Science of Style
A Successful Collaboration between
the Greater Pittsburgh Area
Women Chemists Committee
and ACS Student Chapters
BY RACHEL HARRIS
When you think of Girl Scouts, images of pre- teens selling cookies, braiding friendship bracelets, and eating s’mores likely come to mind. But you will probably be as surprised as we were to learn that such activities are just
a tiny part of a bigger picture.
When the Greater Pittsburgh Area Women Chemists Committee (GPA-WCC) was looking for an outreach project for our
inaugural year, we were thrilled to find that the Girl Scouts of
Western Pennsylvania had numerous opportunities for us to
get involved in their community. Among other STEM (science,
technology, engineering, and mathematics) badges that the Girl
Scouts organization offers, girls could earn the new Science of
As a group of chemists with extensive knowledge of both
science and style, the GPA-WCC created Couture, Cosmetics,
and Chemistry, an event that aims to
encourage female involvement in the
sciences by teaching girls in grades
6–10 the chemistry behind accessories
and makeup. From the idea’s inception
in October to its realization in April,
this event was a hugely collaborative
effort that involved volunteers at all
academic and professional levels.
campus for an engaging, hands-on laboratory experience.
We wanted to create a similar learning environment that
allowed for a lot of different activities to be completed in a
relatively short program, and that would also provide our
guests with one-on-one face time with other young women
in the sciences.
From the ground up
Bringing together a brand-new
Girl Scouts badge and our fledgling
organization presented a number of
challenges for us. Having no previous
experience in planning an outreach
event from scratch, we drew ideas
from the University of Pittsburgh’s
highly successful Saturday Science
program, an effort by the institution’s
ACS student group that brings female
and minority high school students to
PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH
Partnering with your local Girl Scout Council is a great way to enhance your outreach efforts.
Contact volunteer management staff at your local Girl Scout Council. The councils are happy to
work with you to develop a program that works toward a badge, or is simply a fun activity for girls.