Archive for the ‘Key to STEM’ Category

Tonight we used Rebecca Sadler’s AMAZING Who Stole the Wise Old Owl meeting (she’s also known as Brown Owl’s Adventures in Guiding). It is clever. It is smart. It is cool. The girls couldn’t stop exclaiming at how much fun they were having.

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Here’s what we did to make this amazing meeting happen:

First, I read through the blog post a few times and downloaded the handy documents. After some modifications to suit our unit we printed documents, assembled case file folders, collected supplies and got ready to go.

6:20 – we put a sign on the outside door asking everyone to stay out – plus a bucket of pencils and a word search. As suggested, there was some whispery “concern” among the Guiders.

6:35 – We let them in, exclaiming that Wise Old Owl was missing and we needed their help to find her. We couldn’t possibly do our regular opening until she was located. They were split into the four circle groups, they got their case files and we went immediately into our stations.

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6:45 – Station 1 Finger Prints – learn about fingerprints… info from BC Girl Guides CSI Challenge.

6:55 – Station 2 Ciphers and Codes (Where is Wise old Owl? She is on the stage) We used Rebecca’s code to make up messages like Applause, Audience, Performer, Curtain… This was in addition to her coded messages which were both pasted into their case file.

7:05 – Station 3 Invisible Ink (How was she taken? She was lured away with Girl Guide Cookies). We had invisible messages (white paper and white crayon painted over with water paint) already in the folders with words like: Vanilla, Mint, Chocolate, Girl Guide, and $5. Then they had a chance to make their own message for one of their circle friends with paper and white crayon.

7:10 – Station 4 Kim’s Game – (Who took her? The Fairies). The items we selected, if you look at the first letter of each, spelled out “The Fairies”. They played a Kim’s game as usual, then were guided to figure out what the letters spelled.

7:25 – Putting it all together. We went over the puzzle in the big circle. Who got her, how she was taken, and where she was.

7:30 –  Discovery! We opened the door to the stage and all of the girls went through a laser maze (love love love) made of birthday party streamers. At the end, they found four boxes – each one had a sticker with a different Circle Emblem. They knew that the Fairies had her so that’s the box they chose. Owl, as it turned out, also had our Halloween treats! GREAT excitement.

7:45 – we finally were able to do our opening. Then we sang a few songs, and then we closed our meeting as usual at 8. Phew.

This was a super fun meeting. Rebecca had a fantastic idea and did a great job of laying it out for us. It was also really nice to have her original documents so we could make modifications to suit our unit’s needs.

My tips, plan early, print early, assemble with help. And just do this meeting!

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My Dad is a retired Fisheries Biologist and when my nephew was born, his dad gave my dad Trout, Trout, Trout – a Fish Chant by April Pulley Sayre. Nephew is almost 11 now … he loves his Grampy and is obsessed with fish. And we have wonderful memories of the two of them reading the “Fish” book (the littler kids are enjoying it with Grampy now). But we can all recite it by memory. 9781559719797_p0_v1_s192x300

Brownies had a sleepover at a local conservation area this spring and in the morning we enjoyed a fantastic pond ecology program. We read a random book at bedtime, but I wish I had had Trout, Trout, Trout in my kit.

There’s also a neat resource for teachers here that looks like a meeting in a box that I would like to try for Key to the Living World (it mentions wetlands, plants and animals that live near you)

Also try our Key to the Living World: Water all around meeting.

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We’re planning a winter camp in February and this idea from www.cottagelife.com shows us what happens when you blow bubbles (a typical summer camp activity) in the winter. This experiment was done at -40 degrees (at that point it is so cold that both Celsius and Fahrenheit match up). We are hoping (please please please) for much warmer weather than that, but anything is possible in Ottawa in February. Snowy Owl is going to be angry with me for even suggesting that it might be -40 at camp.

Go to www.CottageLife.com to see what happens.

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Vortex science demoed with a plate in a pool.  So Cool! And explained really well, in a way that a Guider (like me) could learn it and explain it to a group of girls. I think we’ll try this next time we do Brownies Splash.

Physics Girl: A Unique and Crazy Pool Vortex

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As we ease into planning our 2014-15 Brownie Year, I am going to shock you. I am going to be so bold as to suggest that you abandon your traditional Halloween party in favour of a themed dress up meeting that contributes to program.

Many of you will gasp with horror at that idea. What! No Halloween Party?! Brown Owl Cara, you’re a cruel and horrible Owl to deny the girls a fabulous spooky party. The truthful reply is that we are really bad at Halloween parties.  We had a real stinker two years ago and so, last year, we tried something different and redeemed ourselves.

The meeting was called “Science and Sleuth Dress Up Night”.

Instructions: Girls were asked to wear Scientist or Detective type costumes. We suggested that an easy scientist costume could be made with a man’s shirt over play clothes. We had one girl come in full CSI dress with a tackle box as a tool kit and everything, there were a few mad scientists, an awesome Albert Einstein, a couple of Sherlock Holmes characters and a bunch of lab coat/man’s shirt combos.

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We used ideas from the e-Patches & crests Mystery Meeting and the BC Girl Guides CSI Challenge … both free downloads. The grand finale was Blue Goo for Caboosh (make sure you have Borax).  Health Canada advises against using Borax There are lots of alternatives that don’t use Borax (do those!).

Here’s what we did:

  • 6:30: Arrival Game – we used a word search from the BC Girl Guides CSI Challenge.
  • 6:40 Regular Opening activities
  • 7:00 Story discussion from the e-patches Mystery meeting
  • 7:10 Fingerprint comparison from the Mystery meeting – we used washable markers instead of ink pads (that’s the photo above)
  • 7:20 Ice magnifying glass from the Mystery meeting.  (The ice didn’t work for us, but we had some magnifying glasses and the girls had a surprising amount of fun peering at things).
  • 7:30 – Game – How Good a Witness Are You? from the CSI Challenge.
  • 7:40 – Blue Goo – STEM Caboosh
  • 8:00 Close. (We did give out a small treat for Halloween – we’re not THAT horrible!).

It was a fantastic meeting! The only thing is, now we have to come up with another dress up idea for this year. We are tossing around the possibility of a book party where we ask the girls to dress up like their favourite book character – and e-Patches has a Reading meeting!

Now, if you love Halloween and are actually good at throwing Halloween parties, please proceed as usual – but consider throwing a dress up science & sleuth meeting another night.  It was fun!

I hope you’re enjoying your summers.

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Tonight is our last meeting before Advancement and, as always, we’re a mixture of sad that Brownies is ending, and ready for a break.  But we are going out with a bang (or a pop!) with a really fun Bubble Meeting.

6:30 Arrival Game – play your favourite game of the whole year.  They picked Captain’s Coming.

6:40 Circle Inspections

6:50 Circle Time

7:00 Program

All together (while the stations were setting up):

  • Talk about what an experiment is.  Listen to instructions, observe what’s there, predict the result, do the activity, and report the actual results.
  • Make Bubble Solution – Compare it to Commercial Bubble Solution.

Then split the girls into three groups.  Circulate through the stations (about 8 minutes per station)

  • Station 1 – Make individual wands in different shapes (circle, square, heart, triangle) and then blow bubbles to assess if the shape of the wand impacts the shape of the bubble.
    The answer: it always makes a sphere.  From Bubbleology.
    Supplies – Pipe cleaners/Chenille Sticks and a pan of bubble solution.
  • Station 2 – Make a rectangular frame (String with two straws threaded through to make a rectangle).  Also to assess whether or not the shape of the wand makes a different shaped bubble.
    Answer: It always makes a sphere.  From Bubbleology.
    Supplies – straws and string, with scissors. And a pan of bubbles.
  • Station 3 – Make Paper Cone bubble maker and Make a Bubble Snake.  Not an experiment – but super fun.

7:30 Bubble Party.  Have fun making bubbles.

7:45 Our favourite songs campfire (Tall Trees, Land of the Silver Birch, Littlest Worm) and Closing at 8.  Done!


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Brownies slept over at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa on Friday and it was one of the best sleepovers we’ve ever had.  We hit the jackpot with a session leader who reviewed our Key to STEM requirements and who took the time to work out a program for us.  The girls loved the program and were super interested.  The leader hit all the points in STEM – people in science, caboosh, Stargazing (we even got to go out to the observatory!), building up… the whole thing.  The program ended around 9:15, and the girls were asleep by 10PM.  Without shushing and goofing around.  Our Owl team is pretty good at settling the girls down to bed, but even we were surprised.  You hear nightmare stories of girls being up all night… but, we’ve never had that happen.

  • Pros: Excellent program, neat place to sleep, they feed you breakfast (with coffee and tea for leaders) in the morning.  Excellent cell service so I was able to send e-mails to parents to update them on our evening (because, as much as this first outing is for us to suss out how the girls will do on a longer trip…it is possibly the first time the parents have left their girls for a non-Grandparent sleepover).  And the museum provides sleeping mats (so you don’t have to deflate 20 Thermarests).
  • Cons: Expensive – we charged $30 per girl to cover most of it with the unit budget covering the rest.  But we were blown away with the program.  In our opinion, we got a great deal.

As a public service for future sleepovers… I thought you would appreciate some direction about where to put your bed.  Some spots are better than others and you can’t tell until the lights are out… and once they’re out, you can’t move people around.

Where to put your bed at your next sleepover at the Museum of Science and Technology.

It was a great night.  If you’re looking for more info, check out Brownie Sleepover, Night at the Museum and don’t forget to advise the Fire Department that you’re in a building that isn’t usually occupied.

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Two Tuesdays ago (yes, it has been that long since I updated the blog) we did Key to STEM: Communications.  As usual, we went with the tried and true.  We didn’t deviate much from the 2011 Communications Meeting plan and it went beautifully.  You’ll note that we focus a lot on Morse Code and I don’t know how we got into that, but the girls were extremely (weirdly?)  interested and engaged in an “ancient” code.

Try Snowy Owl’s Morse Code Relay (details in the 2011 plan).  Here are some photos of the action.

Morse Code Keys in Action

Morse Code Keys

Girls would run to the Owls who had their letters - they were also able to ask their Owl for assistance if they needed it.

Girls ran their relay – collecting their letter cards from the Owls at the other end of the gym – they were also able to ask their Owl for assistance if they needed it.

Figuring out the code was tough, but they got it in the end.  These girls are figuring out "Brown Owl".

Figuring out the code was tough, but they got it in the end. These girls are figuring out “Brown Owl”.

And the Morse Code Bracelets (also from the 2011 Communications Meeting) are pretty awesome too.

Starry Owl helping out with the bracelet construction.

Starry Owl helping out with the bracelet construction.

Tomorrow night we will be sleeping over in the Science and Tech museum.  Wish us well.  =)

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Tonight’s meeting is a repeat of one of the first non-Key to Brownies meetings I ever planned (nine years ago!).  That original meeting was after an area training day where I took a class on how to teach STEM.  The trainer stressed that we should just let the girls get messy and that they’ll learn better if you let them try it for themselves.

Science night works best with stations to circulate through.

Science night works best with stations to circulate through.

But be prepared too:

  • Ask girls to wear play clothes that they don’t mind getting messy.
  • Tarp the heck out of the place: We’ve got lots of painter’s tarps (Walmart sells a three-pack for less than $4 and I have about 10 of those).
  • Have everything prepped and tested in advance.  My plan here has stations – make sure each station leader knows what’s going on (and why the chemical reaction or whatever it is, is happening).  Everyone needs to know how to explain what they’re explaining so that they can have the confidence of an expert. Try to do your experiment at least once before you talk the girls through it (it shouldn’t be a complete learning experience for the leader too).
  • Have lots of garbage bags on hand.  And camp wash bins.  This stuff is messy and you won’t have time between sessions to tidy.
  • My plan uses a lot of pop/water bottles.  If you go this route, line up your bottles in advance by asking families to save theirs.  Or raid the recycle bin at work.

The Plan:

6:15 – Guiders set up your stations and ask any last minute questions

6:30 – Arrival Game H2O Tag from the Brownie Leader book

6:40 – Brownie Circles

6:50 – Brownie Circle Time

7:00 – Program.  (10 minutes per station with a bit of travel time built in…)  Split into three or four groups for experiment stations.  We like smaller groups per session and have enough for 4 stations to run.

Instructions:  Everyone will have an opportunity to do each of the four stations (each leader ran the same program four times).  When you arrive at a table, Pause (without touching), Observe (what do you think will happen?), Listen to instructions, Do the activity, Observe what happened.

7:05 Station 1 – Non Newtonian Fluid Demo (Cornstarch and Water). The link has an excellent explanation.  Or call it Ooblek (this site has a good explanation too).

  • You need: A water supply (I had a Nalgene water bottle and we parked our table near a water fountain), water cups, disposable cereal bowls (cleanup is not possible between stations so it is nice to be able to dump the lot in the garbage, but you could get plastic cereal bowls and wash them at the end if you have the facilities), and cornstarch.

7:15 Station 2 – Baking Soda Balloon Demo (watch the video…especially the boy’s face at about the 2:30 mark as the reaction happens… everyone’s face did that!  Everyone’s!)

  • You need: Vinegar, baking soda, plastic bottles, balloons, funnels, measuring spoons.  We pre-loaded the baking soda in the balloons (wouldn’t that be funny to explain to police if I got pulled over?).
  • What’s happening: The baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a base while the vinegar (acetic acid) is an acid. When they react together they form carbonic acid which is very unstable, it instantly breaks apart into water and carbon dioxide, which creates all the fizzing as it escapes the solution.

7:25 Station 3 – Layers and Density. There are a couple of different methods.

  • This one is cool (but expensive with honey as one of the ingredients).  Shows different densities and different buoyancies at the same time.
  • Density Tower – Very pretty (Video)

7:35 Station 4 – Dancing Raisins to show Buoyancy.  This one isn’t as dramatic as the others, but it is still fun (the raisins go up and down with the bubbles).


7:45 Cleanup and a chat about Badges and how to earn them.  Then campfire (we sang The Littlest Worm – you know, with the soda fizz??)

7:55 – Close

It was a really super meeting.  Good Job Owls!

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This is another rushed post, but tonight we’re going to the rural home of a Guiding family to go for a walk in the woods to try to look at some stars.  This sounds like a fairly simple meeting, but the truth is, I’ll bet some of our city kids may not have seen “proper” stars.  Tonight we’re going to do an arrival game, then take a walk for 30 minutes or so with an eye to identify some stars, and then return to their yard for a real (with fire!) campfire.  All very exciting novelties.

If you’re planning your own Stargazing meeting, one of my first posts on this blog included a link to a Planisphere and some information about Constellations. Both are extremely useful if you’re able to incorporate them into the meeting.

Post Meeting Update: It was cloudy.  But we made the most of it.  Our hosts Owen and Emma improvised, and, rather than a walk under the stars, we had a walk in the woods – WITHOUT FLASHLIGHTS.  Yes.  We developed our night vision and girls got to “see” that we don’t need light to see.  We had a great discussion about the creatures in the woods at night – how a deer could practically run through the forest, while humans are required to tippy toe and feel our way a bit. It turned out that we could see better in the woods at night with good night vision and the reflected light of the city on the clouds.  But the clouds broke for a brief second so we did see one star.  It was pretty cool.

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