Youth U

A Girl Scout works on an experiment on Behrend's Youth Education Outreach Scout day.

A Girl Scout works on an experiment on Behrend's Youth Education Outreach Scout day.

Credit: Penn State

K-12 outreach programs offer unique educational opportunities for all involved

The future of the “beach” in the plastic shoebox was in the hands of a group of Girl Scout Brownies. An “oil spill” was encroaching and the secondand third-graders had to use their critical thinking skills and just a few scraps of material, like a kitchen sponge, straws, and tape, to contain it.

With a little professional guidance from an adult volunteer at Penn State Behrend, the girls constructed an effective oil boom, thereby saving shoebox beach and earning a Brownie Inventor badge for their sashes.

It was just one of dozens of badges earned each year by hundreds of girl and boy scouts through Penn State Behrend's Youth Education Outreach programs. The photos on these pages are from two large, day-long events last year—one for Boy Scouts and one for Girl Scouts.

Successful communities and organizations start with young people who are motivated, educated, and excited to learn. That’s why Penn State Behrend offers K-12 programs, such as scout badge days, that give area youth the opportunity to use the college's resources to participate in unique and exciting learning experiences.

“For the scouts, we look at their badge requirements and try to pick the ones they likely wouldn’t be able to earn without the benefit of the college’s experts and resources,” said Melanie Ford, lecturer in computer science and software engineering and director of the college’s Youth Education Outreach program. “We give them a unique chance to earn some of the more complicated or technical badges.”

Penn State Behrend students learn from these outreach experiences, too, as they are often called upon to help teach the youngsters.

“When our students are able to take what they know and reiterate it and teach it in laymen’s terms to others, it really helps to cement what they are learning here,” said Tracy Halmi, senior lecturer in chemistry and outreach coordinator for the School of Science. “We know they really ‘get it’ when they can explain it to a 10-year-old.”

For more information about the college’s youth programs or to get involved (alumni volunteers are welcome for many events), visit