The Girl Scouts SUN Patch program allows participating troops to educate their scouts about solar energy through hands-on activities. In Dubois County, Indiana, 65 scouts recently earned their solar badges. Kathy Messmer, one of the troops’ Girl Scout leaders and an employee at Jasper Group, reached out to Solar United Neighbors about her troop’s experience. She has been a leader for Cadette Troop 119 for 17 years. Her story has been lightly edited for clarity and style.
We are happy to report our second Solar United Neighbors SUN Patch program was a success! Sixty-five Dubois County Girl Scouts learned about solar energy at Jasper Group’s corporate office on Monday, April 15, 2019. Attending were 13 Cadettes (Grades 6-8), 14 Juniors (Grades 4-5), 22 Brownies (Grades 2-3), and 18 Daisies (Grades K-1). Fourteen Girl Scout troops in all represented three school districts.
Jasper Group’s director of sustainability, Greg Painter, facilitated the event teaching us about solar energy and how Jasper Group can optimize our solar panel performance. Greg brought in a portable solar panel with a meter to demonstrate to our scouts the amount of energy that was being produced during our event. Greg covered many solar energy general facts, including Indiana Solar energy information and Jasper Group’s solar energy data.
Cadette Troop 119 hosted the event, which was our second Solar Patch program event. Twelve Girl Scouts from Troop 119 earned their SUN Patch in August of last year during a similar event at Jasper Group. Greg Painter was our facilitator for that event as well.
This year’s event was a bit more challenging with a larger group including several different age levels. The event started with pizza while we learned a bit about the program and activities that were coming up. As always, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance and the Girl Scout Promise before we began the program. Greg did a great job of adjusting the program for the younger Girl Scouts. Parents and girls were excited to learn about solar energy and participate in the hands-on learning outside in front of our solar array. The girls were split into three groups, Daisy, Brownie, and Junior/Cadette. Activities were planned in three rotations: Solar Array, Solar Oven, and Collage/Poster.
Greg handled the Solar Array portion outside. He covered general solar energy facts, Indiana solar energy information, and also how Jasper Group uses solar energy at their Jasper corporate office as well as their Orleans office. The girls learned how solar arrays work, how soon fossil fuels will be depleted, and how important solar energy is for our future.
Troop leaders handled the indoor activities. Girls assembled their own solar oven using pizza boxes lined with foil and black construction paper. The plan was to build their smore’s, cover with plastic wrap, and take outside in the sunshine to “bake”.
Unfortunately, with a cool 64-degree temperature, it wasn’t feasible to take these solar ovens outside and enjoy melted smore’s that evening. So, the girls took their solar ovens home to make their own smore’s on a warmer sunny day. The girls agreed that we could make do with a couple microwaves for the event, and everyone enjoyed their smore’s snacks.
Each girl completed a Solar Energy poster which included something they learned during the program. Greg has kept a couple of these in his office, and I have several stored with other Girl Scout posters and may use them at our next SUN Patch event. Some girls chose to take theirs home to share with their families. Solar energy color pages and word search puzzles were also available to complete at the event or take home to share.
Now that the event is over, girls will do a solar energy scavenger hunt on their own. They will look for examples of solar energy arrays, solar stoplights or signs, and some solar yard lights. They can share what they learned about solar energy and how successful their solar ovens and scavenger hunts were at their next troop meeting.
The girls were excited to receive their SUN Patch. It’s a beautifully designed embroidered patch. As these are “earned” badges, they may be placed on the front of a Girl Scout vest or sash along with traditional Girl Scout badges.
Thank you for this great learning opportunity for Girl Scouts and their families! We look forward to working with you again next season.