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For Girl Scouts, fun is easily engineered

Camp stresses science -- and socializing

The News Journal, Written by Kim Manahan, 12:55 AM, Aug. 9, 2011--

Gabriella Fusco, Lauren Davis and Carly Hoffman giggled as they stood behind a man-shaped structure they built from plastic piping.

"Oh my gosh, his hips are huge!" 13-year-old Hoffman exclaimed during a session of Girls in Gear, an engineering- and science-based Girl Scout camp in Hockessin that teaches technological techniques in a relaxed environment.

On Monday, charged with making a structure that could stand on its own, the trio succeeded in minutes.

"Its an unique program," said Liz Farrell, communication and advocacy manager for the Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay Council. "This morning they used a lung model to learn how the lungs work."

In the afternoon, projects included building bridges from K'nex construction toys and learning about different kinds of tools, nuts and bolts.

Each day there are different science-based activities, including a forensics "solve the mystery" activity and a crime scene investigation based on the television series "CSI.''

"It sounds cool,'' said Fusco, 12, who is enrolled in a forensics class this coming school year.

Laura McKinnon, 10, who attended the camp last year, said "I decided to come back and learn.''

The mission is both educational and social.

Lauren Davis, 12, who lives in West Chester, Pa., and was joined at the camp by her 10-year-old sister Elise, seconded that notion. "We make a lot of friends, and the counselors are really nice.''

At the outset of Monday's session, the 12 girls were quiet and shy, but they loosened up by afternoon.

"We didn't know each other at the beginning, but now we're all talking," said 12-year-old Jenn Widmayer, whose favorite part is meeting new people.

Farrell simply wants the girls to enjoy themselves.

"Making this fun for them is critical," she said. "We teach then valuable life skills while having fun."