Nearly 150 attendees filled the hallways and program rooms of the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland headquarters as music floated from the dance studio, delicious smells wafted from the test kitchen, and the sounds of excited chatter and applause filled the air during the Urban Program & Environmental Training Center Grand Opening celebration Tuesday night.
Throughout the evening programs were held in the new facilities, including self-esteem workshops delivered by Miss Maryland Lindsay Staniszewski, a science in the kitchen workshop delivered by Chef Bryan Montz, Techbridge’s “Power it Up,” and dance demonstrations.
The opening of the new Center is part of an effort to inspire young girls’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and math, and to provide Girl Scout volunteers with additional resources to deliver science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-focused programming.
Ted Imes, Director of Corporate Citizenship for Northrop Grumman, said that the U.S. is facing a real challenge in graduating enough engineers to fill the country’s current needs, and that the passion and mission of Northrop Grumman to inspire young people to enter the STEM field aligned with that of the Girl Scouts, making the opening of the Center possible.
A generous $145,000 gift and $17,000 of in-kind facility design and construction support services from Northrop Grumman, and $500,000 in capital funding from the State of Maryland, brought the Urban Program & Environmental Training Center to reality.
Bria McElroy, Assistant Director of the University of Maryland Women in Engineering Program, said that one of the challenges facing women in the STEM fields are that succeeding in the classroom at these subjects has not translated to a career in STEM areas.
“There is a lot of research that girls are just as capable in these fields as boys are and that they test just as well in high school on AP tests. It’s just that when it comes to making that transition to doing well in classes to deciding on a career, there is a disconnect,” she said. “So what we’re trying to do is teach girls that science, technology, engineering and math are all subjects that are exciting and allow you to use your creativity and imagination and translate that into a career that serves society. There are a lot of STEM careers that get you involved with doing better for the world, and that is what a lot of girls are really interested in doing.”
Other attendees included Girl Scouts, volunteers, representatives from Northrop Grumman, and representatives from local government, including State Senator Katherine Klausmeier, who supported the Girl Scouts’ bond bill.