Wolfeboro Girl Scout FLL team is working to renovate building for a community center
WOLFEBORO, NH – An old municipal building, unused for years, may soon have a new life as a community center, thanks to a Girl Scout robotics team.
How do all those things come together?
It all fell into place naturally for five young teen girls – Girl Scouts and members of the current Electric Llamas FIRST Lego League team. Both organizations have a commitment to making the world a better place and encouraging girls to immerse themselves in the world of engineering. For the girls, it’s about being able to solve puzzles and advocate for the citizens of Wolfeboro. Through both Girl Scouts and FIRST, they are working with the town to renovate the Municipal Electric Department building on Lehner Street in Wolfeboro, which has been vacant since 2008, and already have a warrant article for voters to consider on March 10.
The Electric Llamas are Amelia Bickford, 14, a Girl Scout Senior; Adrianna Noel, 12, a Girl Scout Cadette; Evelyn Hafner, 12, a Girl Scout Cadette; Miriam Lambert, 14, a Girl Scout Senior, and Avalyn Lambert, 11, a Girl Scout Cadette. All are from Wolfeboro, and they are coached by Briar Rose Lambert, their troop leader and mother to Miriam and Avalyn.
“In FLL, there’s two portions to the robot game, and they’re equally important,” said Lambert. “The theme was City Shapers, and had to find an abandoned or underused building to find what the potential use would be. Find a space and reimagine it. They get higher points with the more people they talk to. In the process of doing their plan they’ve met with town officials who are championing them on and want them to keep going. They asked the Board of Selectmen to give them money, so they taught the girls how to get a petitioned warrant started.”
Miriam Lambert worked with a local contractor to learn the professional architectural program. She used this knowledge to create the technical CAD drawings in Chief Architect. Amelia Bickford is the troop’s resident artist. They worked together to create the 3D model.
The girls have done a series of presentations to the public and the town officials to explain their idea. They spent time on First Night and at a grocery store to get signatures for their warrant article asking for $25,000 for a feasibility study. One selectman, also a college professor, was impressed with the girls’ plan.
“We had a sheet with our script on it and he wrote ‘Shazam!’ on it!” said one of the girls. “He gave it an A+.”
At the deliberative session of Town Meeting on Feb. 4, the girls received a huge round of applause from the voters, and approval for the warrant article to appear on the town ballot in March. “So now we are going to go out in town and spread the word,” said Briar Rose Lambert. “Vote ‘yes’ on Article 35!”
The presentation included renderings using professional architectural software, and a 3D model of the building. They also worked out a financial plan, estimating the work to come to a little under $4 million.
The current senior center in Wolfeboro is without a space, but is town funded. The girls want to change that. They envision a meeting place for young and old.
“We tried to make sure there are things our town is missing,” the girls said. “A commercial kitchen for the public – senior citizens like to use real plates and silverware. The current center is falling apart. We learned from planning director that the town is considering demolishing it.” They’d also liked to have a climbing rock wall and games room, with floor games like hopscotch and shuffleboard. “The large room could be used for dancing, dining, movies. There’d be a partition to split it. It could also be used for a winter farmer’s market or monthly artisans market. We want solar panels and a rooftop garden.”
Because this new community center would be in the old municipal electric building, they want to decorate it with tools that were used in that building. They also want to keep the large windows and architectural details from 1897 and 1937 when the building was built. Those details are what make it beautiful and historical.
Big plans and real work was done, when all that was required by FIRST was a plan simply imagining the change. But because the girls were interested in real change, they took action to bring their vision to life. They are hoping to use this project to fulfill requirements for their Girl Scout Silver and Gold Awards.
The Girl Scout Silver Award recognizes a Girl Scout or team of Girl Scout Cadettes (those in grades 6-8) who identify an issue they care about and spend at least 50 hours to put their plan into action. It is the highest honor for a Cadette. The Girl Scout Gold Award recognizes a Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador (those in grades 9-12) who tackle an issue dear to them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond. It is the mark of the truly remarkable. The girls are working out how to meet those requirements among the team members.
As for the robotics part, the team won the Judges’ Award at the New Hampshire State Champions for FIRST Lego League in December based on their community building project. They were the regional tournament champions at Lego of the Lakes in Gilford this season. In FIRST Lego League, the robots are smaller than a shoebox, and must complete tasks autonomously through the programming done by the team.
They did six challenges, including hitting a lever and pushing tall blocks into circles, even using a color sensor to achieve a goal.
“This is the fifth year for some of them. I’ve been a coach for five years. We’ve got two whizzes back there with programming!” said Briar Lambert, referring to her younger girls. “We never thought we’d be that team (the winners)! We were up against teams that have been in existence for 20 years. The fact that they got to be regional champions is something I thought would never happen.”
Why llamas? It’s just an in-joke to the girls, who’ve adjusted the name over their five years together, depending on the challenges of the Lego League games. They’ve also been the Astro Llamas and Aqua Llamas.
Now, as they grow up and out of Lego League, the girls are already being recruited for the high school teams that compete with large robots. The older girls can also mentor the younger girls on the Llamas team, whatever its next incarnation is named. And they’re looking for new members to join the team.
“There’s a spot on the team for everyone,” said Lambert.
To reach the team, contact them at Wolfeboro.firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-387-9309.
Girl Scouts and STEM
The Girl Scout Leadership Experiences prepares girls for a lifetime of leadership, success, and adventure in a safe, no-limits place designed by and for girls. Science, technology, engineering, and math, usually referred to as STEM, is one of the four pillars that form the foundation of that experience, along with the outdoors, life skills, and entrepreneurship.
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, the council supporting girls in New Hampshire and Vermont, is now bringing its proven curriculum to girls in all parts of those states through its new STEM on-the-go van. This mobile program brings computers, microscopes, a 3D printer, and more to allow Girl Scouts to earn badges and have experiences not easily available to them in remote areas.
Girls from kindergarten through high school earn badges in robotics, computer coding, space science, cybersecurity, and more. Activities are led by the girls themselves, feature cooperative learning, and highlight learning by doing. Girls come up with their own ideas, build teams, and experience the joy of making a positive impact.
For more information about Girl Scouting and becoming a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™, see www.girlscoutsgwm.org.
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.