Irish Girl Guides to launch new space programme

8 Oct 2020

Image: Irish Girl Guides

A new programme from the Irish Girl Guides will invite girls and young women to learn more about space through a range of activities.

Irish Girl Guides is launching a new space programme this weekend, which will coincide with International Day of the Girl on Sunday (11 October).

The Irish youth organisation has invited members of the public to join the half-hour online launch, which will include appearances from former Girl Guides who are now working in the field of science.

One of the guest speakers is Dr Niamh Shaw, who is also set to speak at Silicon Republic’s Future Human event later this month. Shaw, who is a space and STEM communicator, will be joined by Dr Kate Isaak of the European Space Agency.

The launch event will take place on the Irish Girl Guides YouTube channel at 7pm on Sunday.

Shooting for the stars

Shaw, who was the Irish Girl Guides honorary ambassador for 2019 to 2020, said that on accepting the role she had been keen to add a space-focused badge to the organisation’s programme of activities and challenges for girls and young women.

“Being the Irish Girl Guides ambassador was such a privilege,” she added. “I got the opportunity to meet with youth members and volunteers and find out about them as well as to chat about space, dreaming big and all the technology and science required to explore and protect our planet Earth.”

While establishing a space badge packed with space-themed activities focusing on Earth and its role in the universe, Shaw worked with Frances McCarthy at Cork Institute of Technology’s Blackrock Castle Observatory.

McCarthy, who is also an Irish Girl Guides leader, helped to develop science, technology, engineering and maths activities from the European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO) archive to support the badge.

Exploring new areas

Subjects covered in the programme will include rocket building, stargazing, solar system walks and looking for the International Space Station in the night sky.

Older members will also learn about Irish women working in the space sector and will be challenged to make a model moon based out of recycled materials. The space-themed activities for children and teens will be available from this weekend for anyone to download from the Irish Girl Guides website.

“It’s a fantastic end to a terrific year with Irish Girl Guides,” Shaw said. “And I’m so proud that, through this collaboration of women involved in space, we made it happen. That’s what Space Week and International Day of the Girl is all about too!”

Irish Girl Guides chief commissioner Amanda O’Sullivan said that the organisation was “thrilled” to work with ESERO Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and Blackrock Castle Observatory in order to create the new programme.

“Irish Girl Guides is a progressive organisation that encourages girls to pursue subjects and careers that might traditionally be considered to be for boys and men,” she said.

“The space badge, which will be awarded to all girls who complete age-appropriate STEM activities on a space theme, will complement other badges we have introduced in recent years to encourage girls to explore areas they might not otherwise have considered, including engineering, aviation and STEM.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic