Historic Georgia Girl Scouts entering computer age

lfabian@macon.comAugust 28, 2013 

LIZELLA -- Girl Scouts have long been associated with cookies, campfires and crafts, but you can now add computers to the list.

A $150,000 grant from the Peyton Anderson Foundation funded a new high tech learning center at the Sarah Bailey Service Center.

The money converted a multi-use training room into a virtual learning center that will connect 40 computers and a camera in Bibb County to Girl Scout district offices across Georgia.

“This technology will make access to training so much easier and more efficient for everyone,” Chief Advancement Officer Lee Laughter stated in a news release.

Thursday at 10 a.m., Girl Scouts will transmit their first session from the Peyton Anderson Learning Management Center to the council’s office in Athens.

The grand opening celebration is open to the public at 6869 Columbus Road.

Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia covers 122 counties in the state, plus two in South Carolina and one in Alabama.

In addition to the service center in Lizella, six regional offices are located in Athens, Gainesville, Columbus, Albany, Augusta and Savannah.

“We go from the mountains to the sea,” said Blair Train, fund development manager for Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia.

The vast territory made training difficult, but the new Web cameras provide distance learning opportunities.

“This will allow one of our staff members or a volunteer to create a training program that can be seen and heard and interacted on all over the council,” Train said.

A motion-activated camera follows an instructor in the new center.

“Microphones activate as the speaker walks around the room,” said Tim Smith, the council’s network administrator.

The center is equipped with a state of the art sound system, he said.

The video and audio is digitally transmitted to the other locations across Georgia.

White boards flank three of the walls. Decorative panels help the acoustics in the room that has a high ceiling and beams.

The grant also paid for a new patterned carpet in shades of taupe and brown.

A projector mounted overhead can project videos and other training materials to a large screen in the front of the room.

“It will be great for monthly staff meetings because right now we do conference calling,” Train said.

The council plans to hold STEM workshops specializing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum.

Scouting already incorporates STEM skills into several of its badges, such as the Science and Technology and Innovation badges, which are awarded when girls reach proficiency in the material.

Any new experiments or lessons can be shared now through the Learning Management Center, or LMC.

The council will also rent out the space to other community groups or organizations. A small conference room at the center is also available.

Having properly trained Girl Scout leaders is key to the success of scouting, Train said.

“We want our volunteers trained to the max,” she said. “If they have the resources, we found they have the confidence that they can instill in the girls.”

More volunteers are expected to participate as they won’t have to commute and burn fuel to training sites across the state.

“With gas prices nowadays, we think it will be received with great joy,” Train said.

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.


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