New Girl Scout Badges Offer Different Choices To Smart Cookies For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, the Girl Scouts of the USA have updated their badges.
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New Girl Scout Badges Offer Different Choices To Smart Cookies

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New Girl Scout Badges Offer Different Choices To Smart Cookies

New Girl Scout Badges Offer Different Choices To Smart Cookies

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Don't panic. They are not changing the Dosie Does or the Samoas. And you can still get your Thin Mints, but the Girl Scouts are updating their badges. It's been nearly a quarter century since the last big overhaul, and the world has changed. So time to add digital filmmaking, local food awareness and, of course, the Science of Happiness.

Joining me to talk about these changes and the skills required for some of these new badges is Alicia Niehaus. She's from the Girl Scouts of The USA and she was involved with the redesign.

Alicia, welcome.


RAZ: OK. So the Fashion, Fitness and Makeup badge is out. It's being replaced by the Science of Style badge.

NIEHAUS: Yes, indeed.

RAZ: So what's the difference?

NIEHAUS: So girls now are delving into not just what does makeup do, how do I look in it, but really looking at the science of it. So they'll look at the chemistry of sunscreen, what does SPF mean. They might try making their own perfume. It's a lot of fun stuff in there

RAZ: How did you determine which badges were outdated and what new badges should be offered?

NIEHAUS: We asked girls.


NIEHAUS: And we're really a girl-led, girl-driven organization. So we went to the girls and we said, what are you interested in learning, what do you think will prepare you for success, and what do you want and need for the next century? So that's how we got all our new categories.

RAZ: OK. Let's talk about some of these new badges. Public Policy.


RAZ: What does that look like? What does that badge look like?

NIEHAUS: That's the badge for our 11th and 12th graders, our Girl Scout Ambassadors. And it's a chance for them to look at how laws are made in their communities, to kind of go behind the scenes, maybe do an internship with a lawmaker and just get a sense of, you know, how things happen in government and what they might want to advocate for, what they might want to be involved in, in their lives.

RAZ: Oh, product Design.

NIEHAUS: That's one of my favorites. That's actually in our Innovation Badge category, which is a totally new category. And these are really - can be intersection of design and business and getting girls to think critically about the objects around them. Maybe they want to make an exciting new backpack. What is something that could improve a strap, or do they want an extra holder for their cell phones, really looking critically at the things around them, which I think is something that girls love to get through Girl Scouting.

RAZ: I'm especially curious about this Science of Happiness Badge. This was, I understand, developed with the help of Martin Seligman. He's a positive psychology researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.

NIEHAUS: Mm-hmm. Who does want to be happy, right?


NIEHAUS: Who doesn't want to know what makes them happy? And that's really an opportunity for girls to sort of be the test subject in the laboratory of their lives.

RAZ: How would you earn the Science of Happiness badge? I mean, how would you prove it? You just have to be happy?


NIEHAUS: Well, you get to go over the course of a month, and try on a new thing. Like, if you forgive people in your life, that's something that's supposed to make you happier. So you can try forgiving a few people and see do you, in fact, feel happier? And you also get a chance to see what makes people around you happy, to look at, sort of psychology research methods, design and experiments, asked pointed questions.

RAZ: That's a lot of pressure.


NIEHAUS: Well, I think one of the great things about the badges is there's quite a lot of flexibility in them, so I don't think any girl will have the same experience in a badge. She can really decide what part of the Science of Happiness particularly interests her; whether she's more interested in the personal experience, whether she's a budding psychologist.

So I think that's one of the great things about our badges is we give girls a chance to develop skills to make their lives and other lives better in whatever way means the most to them.

RAZ: I mean, back in my day, it was like, you know, First Aid, sportsmanship. Now you got to be like a website designer, a digital filmmaker just to be a Girl Scout?


NIEHAUS: I think you can do all of those things. That's really one of the most exciting things is you can make your Girl Scouting experience what you want it to be.

RAZ: But you can still get a badge for First Aid and sportsmanship and cooking, and things like that.

NIEHAUS: You absolutely can. Yup. One of my favorite sort of new twists on those Legacy badges, they call them, is ambassadors who want to have a dinner party can look into molecular gastronomy, which...


NIEHAUS: ...I'm a huge fan of. They don't have to, but it's a cool science kind of thing to look at when you're also figuring out how to time all those dishes, what kind of menu you want, maybe taking a tour of a local restaurant.

RAZ: That's Alicia Niehaus. She's with the Girl Scouts of the USA, talking about the new badges, the first redesign in nearly a quarter century.

Alicia, thanks.

NIEHAUS: Thank you.

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