The opportunity for Girl Scouts to earn a Paper Scientist Patch originated in 2017 when Sappi Sustainability Ambassadors from Southern Maine partnered with Girl Scouts of Maine to create the programme. Girl Scouts from around the state attended a paper scientist expo at Sappi’s Technology Center in Westbrook.
At the expo, girls participated in activities aimed at teaching the science of paper, ranging from papermaking to recycling. The programme and event were a success, and the technology center hosted another expo the following year.
To broaden its reach to Girl Scouts across the country, Sappi partnered with the Women in Industry division of TAPPA to develop a nationwide Girl Scout patch programme that celebrated the science and technology of the pulp and paper industry. The women involved in the project represent companies from across the pulp and paper industry, as well as several colleges and universities. Organisers in 2019 conducted a paper scientist expo in North Carolina and another two in Maine.
While preparations were underway for more expo events around the country, Covid-19 brought the paper scientist expos to a halt. Undeterred by this setback, the Sappi team persevered and pivoted to a virtual patch programme that's accessible to an even larger number of Girl Scouts.
In the new virtual experience, Girl Scouts follow the timeline of paper from tree to recycling facility and everything in between. To earn the patch, girls complete activities at six stops on the virtual map.
Each stop includes interactive and educational activities that teach about the different parts of a tree, how paper is made, the use of pulp and paper in items found at home and the importance of recycling.
"The virtual scavenger hunt includes all the links and instructions so Girl Scouts anywhere can learn about, reflect upon, and take action on paper, the environment, and sustainability", says Samantha Lott Hale, Programmes Director for Girls Scouts of Maine. "The virtual assets highlight the interesting science behind papermaking and the environment, and give Girl Scouts the chance to explore STEM career options."