Saturday, June 16, 2012

WOW! Wonders of Water - A Brownie Journey Review

Well, it has been a long time since I posted anything, and a number of months since I reviewed the Daisy  Flower Garden Journey, but since I have a little time this morning (before heading to a Girl Scout camp fundraiser!) I'll take a stab at what I did like and didn't like about the Wonders of Water Journey.

Things I liked:
-The girls were challenged to use less water - a good goal.
-Incorporating science into the journey - making rainbows.
-Using tea to teach about the phases of water - solid, liquid and gas.
-Girls learned about the scarcity of clean water and how that affects girls worldwide.

Things I didn't like:
-The journey takes so long, and so little is actually accomplished.
-Most of the games and activities were pretty lame.
-The girl's book was pretty much impossible to use in meetings - the girls had enough school before meetings and didn't want to sit around and read.  Plus, one of my brownies was just learning to speak English, so it was doubly hard to do reading as a group.
-All of the suggested projects are exceedingly lame

Things I did:
The journeys seem like okay jumping off points, but are just full of politically correct garbage and just aren't that much fun.  My brownies chose Wonders of Water out of the three journeys, which I will admit, surprised me!

To ramp up the science in the journey, I added in the following experiments
-Diffusion experiment: we put in food coloring to still water to see how it moved through the water, then we put the food coloring into stirred water to see the difference.
-Homemade hydrogen experiment: we used 9-volt batteries, salt water, and copper wire, which I had on hand because this is an experiment that Eva did for Chemistry this year.  Before this experiment, I had the girls build water molecules with a molecular model set I had at home, so that they got the idea that water is made of hydrogen and oxygen.
-Ooblek experiment: This was the favorite (and the most messy) of the experiments.  We only made a small amount because I was working with the amount of cornstarch we had on hand.

For our project, we raised money for a water project.  In several months we should get a picture and GPS coordinates of the project we helped to fund.  We did this by putting out change collection jars around our small town.  To do this, the girls had to write letters to local business owners asking to put jars in their businesses.  I also wrote up a quick letter to the editor, and set up this website through charity:water, the organization I found to work with.  I did suggest this project when it came time to choose, but I had all the girls make suggestions as well - they voted and chose the fundraising.  I just don't think it occurred to them, since all the journey ideas in the book are so...well, stupid is the word I'd use for them!  The book suggests the following: Shut off that faucet!; Stop that leak!; Choose a broom, not a hose!; Ban bottles!; Grow water smart plants! - all basically have the girls making educational posters, doing skits or writing to local government.  So, we set a goal of raising $200, but it took longer than I expected to get permission to put up jars (particularly in the school!) so, we raised just over $100.  Still not bad for our small troop in our small town.

The BEST thing that we did came about unexpectedly.  I was trying to get the last of our troop's cookies sold at a community event, and our boss (not sure what her title is, but works for Girl Scouts and keeps track of the area leaders) was there trying to recruit more volunteers (which is always an uphill battle!)  A woman I know pretty well from church came by and was talking to us, and we mentioned the journeys, and that the brownies were doing the Wonders of Water journey this year.  Well, she works for the government dealing with water, and she offered to come in and do an educational talk about aquifers, because we live over and get all our water from the Ogallala Aquifer.  So, for our final (and possibly most memorable) meeting, she came in, talked about aquifers and water in general, and then led the girls in making Ice Cream Aquifers

Overall, I am not sure that I would do another Brownie Journey.  The Daisy ones are nice because they give the Daisies something else to do once they have earned their petals, but with the new Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting for Brownies, I think the journeys are too much to deal with when you can actually be earning badges.  It took us the majority of the year to earn the four patches for the WOW! Journey, and it took us 2-3 sessions to earn two patches out of the new Girl's Guide - painting and first aid.

For painting, it took 1 1/2 meetings - the first meeting, I took in our Child Size Masterpiece cards for the get inspired step - the girls went through the cards and found four paintings that they liked, then we discussed why they liked them.  Next,  I put down a disposable table cloth and put out both watercolors and tempura paints and brushes.  I brought in a couple of objects to serve as still life inspiration, and gave the girls the option of painting them, or painting an outdoor landscape.  I didn't offer the portrait option, because I could see how badly that could get us off track if they decided to paint each other.  Finally, I had them paint a mood - this was hard for some of them, since it could be abstract, but in the end, all the girls came up with something - some were far less abstract than others.  Most of the girls chose happy (their other options were calm or angry).  The next  session, I put down another disposable table cloth (I know, it's terrible - but it was what I could handle cleanup-wise!) and had the girls paint without brushes - they used sponges, fabric, beads, ping pong balls, fake flowers and leaves and their hands.  They did not want to stop painting with objects, but I eventually got them to move to painting a mural together.  They painted based on the theme "Girl Scout Fun", and after the mural dried, we displayed it at our bridging ceremony.

For first aid, I had a good friend who is in nursing school come in, and she brought a classmate to help her out.  Best speakers ever!  They researched what the girls were supposed to know, brought supplies for each of them to make a first aid kit, and got through pretty much all the info in one meeting (we reviewed the next meeting and worked on putting together a camp first aid kit.)  They covered what an emergency is, calling 911, what to do if someone is having trouble breathing, how to deal with cuts, burns, the importance of hand washing, and just a ton of other information.  They made it fun and informative, and each girl made a first aid kit with gauze pads and tape, bandages, hand sanitizer, a pad and pencil filled with emergency contact information, a bandanna (for dealing with burns or applying pressure to wounds), and a pack of tissues (I may be forgetting some things in the kit!)  Best deal ever for me, I just kept the girls on track as much as I could, and gave them both boxes of cookies for helping us out.  They even travelled an hour each way to talk to the girls.  It was awesome.

In closing (because I'm supposed to be in town shortly), the WOW! Journey was okay, not terrible, not great - but I am WAY happier with the Girl's Guide instead.

6 comments:

centerponder said...

Thank you so much for posting this! Found it using Google. My Brownie troop started the WOW journey last fall but had some new recruits come in mid-year and we also discovered how much more fun earning badges is. So, we are going to try to finish up the WOW journey this fall. Thanks for the ideas. Once we are done we are going to resume working on badges. We have done Potter, Senses and Celebrating Community so far but they wanted to do Pets and First Aid next.

Kara Keenan said...

My girls are doing Wonders of Water too, and I agree with you. This is NOT the best of the Journeys to take on. We're just trying to get through it at this point.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your assessment. I've been a troop leader for a mixed age troop for 5 years now and I'm so disappointed in the journeys for Brownies, Juniors and Cadettes. And, frankly, my girls are much less interested in the meetings than they were when we did the badge work. I realize the point is to make leaders out of our girls but they don't have to go advocate for every issue that the Girl Scouts have decided merit the journey/attention/etc. I liked you ideas and wish I would have seen this before we completed the journey. I will definitely look for the Girl Guide.

bwired said...

I agree that the reading part is ridiculous. I have a mixed troop, brownies through seniors. It is soo hard to plan for all of the groups and keep their attention when they have to do a lot of reading. The more interactive the stuff is, the more likely we are to retain the girls and for them to get something out of it.I am planning on taking all of my girls together to one of out rivers in town, and teach them how to test water for pollution, water quality, ph balance, and teach them two methods of making water potable. Out service project will hopefully be something along the lines of helping to get some clean water sources to people who don't have them.

Anonymous said...

You are a terrific leader. I am inspired by your candid observations of the WOW journey, as well as your adventurous spirit and willingness to incorporate science into your activities.

Brenda Shuff said...

I did purchase each of the girls journey books but we do not use them in meetings at all. It is time consuming and the girls get bored reading. I copy the work pages and some of the interesting tidbits, but I find the book is very repetitious. I know repetition helps them learn, but to read the same thing over and over again bores them. I find lots of ideas that go along with the subject of the journey and use those to engaged the girls so they will have a fun learning experience. It is difficult for some of the girls to attend 10 sessions to earn the set of journey badges, so we try to combine as many sessions into one as possible to ensure the girls earn the badge for their work. We are a multi-level troop meeting on the same night but in 4 separate meetings so that each level can do their level's activities to earn their journeys. We have several in all four levels that have earned all 3 journeys before the bridge to the next level. I am always very proud of those girls because it takes commitment to do that--also on the parents' part to get them to the meetings and field trips! It took me a year or two to decide to do the journeys but once we did, I find that the girls enjoy them as long as we find interesting activities to keep them engaged. 2013-2014 begins my 22 year as a Girl Scout leader, so I think by now I understand how to stay true to the program without sticking everything that is written in a journey. Let's hope so!