This Girl Scout just won a badge that's flown to the moon
“Over the moon” certainly describes the way a lot of people feel about a Ball Camp Elementary school fifth grader winning the Girl Scouts Space Science Investigator Badge in the “Girl Scouts to the Moon and Back” essay-writing contest, and the badge itself has been to the moon and back aboard NASA’s Artemis I.
But as for Gracie Ogle herself, she plans to stay firmly planted on the ground – even while possibly taking part in the prestigious space program later on in life.
“Maybe working for it,” says Gracie, “but not actually going into space.”
The fact that she’s even able to consider such a career choice in an elite field is a testament, says Girls Scouts of the Southern Appalachians CEO Lynn Fugate, to the power of the Girl Scouts of America (GSA) program.
“Girl Scouts are leaders in every field they enter, and they also tend to be women who break new ground. All three female secretaries of state – Condoleezza Rice, Madeline Albright and Hillary Clinton – were Girl Scouts.”
The Artemis I mission involved two GSA alumni: NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy and the first female launch director, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson.
“To see women being involved at the launch director level!” exclaims Fugate. “We have had women astronauts, but now there are ways that you can be involved in space exploration without being in the capsule.” That, says Fugate, is very inspiring to current Girl Scouts.
So what does Gracie – who has so far earned 25 badges and three Summit Pins – want to do?
“I took an engineering course in fourth grade and fell in love with it,” she says.
“We did different projects, like building a perfect shelter for animals. I built a raft out of tin foil to see what it would hold and if it would float.”
Gracie says she enjoys building projects at home, and the engineering knowledge she gained at school has helped her there as well. “I have built derby cars with my dad. We have to see how to make it go faster and how much we can put weight in it because there’s a certain limit.”
In her essay, Gracie described what she would do if she were “the first kid on the moon,” and it wasn’t all just bouncing around and riding in a moon buggy. She wrote that she wanted to do experiments with moon dust and map the terrain for those who would come after her.
“I’m pretty interested in maps. When I was younger, I used to look at a big map in my dad’s office. I would try to pinpoint where we were.”
Fugate says STEM is “a really big driver” in the GSA program. “I love that this is about space, but our program also lets girls know that STEM is more than rocket science.” The “Think Like a Citizen Scientist” badge introduces Scouts to STEM. “It’s problem-solving and thinking ahead and process. Scientists learn from the doing. When it fails, they don’t take it as a failure of themselves, they take it as one more step to learning.”
Fugate couldn’t be prouder of Gracie, the only Girl Scout from Tennessee to win the award. “I think you can see probably why her essay stood out from others.”
NASA, are you listening?
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Knoxville Girl Scout wins badge that's flown to the moon