Two-hundred girls across Kentucky were encouraged to engineer their futures by exploring their interests and skills in STEM-related activities.

The Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road encouraged curiosity and passion for young girls across the state during the seventeenth annual Girls in Engineering, Math and Science event known as GEMS. The one-day event sought to ensure that girls are capable of pursing STEM careers.

“A lot of these fields are male-dominated worlds, so we want to give girls the confidence now to take with them later on, after they’re done with Girl Scouts,” said Brianna Johnson, the digital media and public relations coordinator for GSKWR. 

Johnson said girls will stop speaking up in classrooms as early as fourth grade because they fear bullying, embarrassment and being perceived as unintelligent. 

“They’re learning STEM in classrooms but there’s boys and they get intimidated, and they feel silly being interested in science or math but here they can really let their true colors shine,” said Katie Mauldin, the event program manager. 

One report from the Girl Scouts Research Institute said that most girls even divert from STEM-related activities after middle school due to lack of confidence and a declined interest, involvement and sense of self. 

The statistic encouraged GSKWR to focus on STEM activities to change the odds. 

“We want to make sure there’s a pipeline of girls who are interested in the STEM field that will continue to pursue it because they know they can because they’ve done it in Girl Scouts,” said Haleigh McGraw, director of communications.

Girls Scouts officially reorganized its pillars of content to include STEM in 2017. The four pillars are now STEM education, the outdoors, life skills and entrepreneurship.

The event moved to Morehead State from the University of Kentucky four years ago after the GSKWR recognized the presence and successes of the Craft Academy and the Space Science Center. 

Thirteen workshops were hosted in MSU buildings including the Adron Doran University Center, Lappin Hall, Lloyd Cassidy Building and the Space Science Center. 

The goal is to promote involvement in secondary education.

“Being on a college campus and actively engaging in a classroom with their peers makes the college setting comfortable and known and something they feel prepared for upon graduating,” said McGraw, a Lexington native. 

McGraw said she treasured witnessing the young girls become captivated by the activities they conduct. 

“My personal favorite thing to witness is the girl’s kind of get that spark,” said McGraw. “Just the sparkle in their eyes of getting it, understanding and knowing they can do this.” 

Additional photos from the event can be found on GSKWR's social media pages @kygirlscouts.