A vacant office space was recently transformed into the Berges Family Girl Scouts Program Center, a high-usage, energetic and collaborative learning environment for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri. The 6,000-square-foot, vivid, airy space engages young women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), Health, and Money Management education in science and robotics labs, an open learning kitchen, and group/teaming spaces. Bright, saturated paint maximizes design impact for the space and elicits powerful emotional responses proven to enhance learning. Custom pillows in vibrant hues and bold patterns make the seating Keva inviting as a retreat or quiet learning space.
The design by Oculus Inc., a full-service architecture and interior design firm, compensates for minimal natural light and adds whimsy and function through a raised ceiling, suspended round light fixtures, and acoustical ceiling clouds. Durable, flexible, and mobile furniture create a collaborative environment. Lightweight green chairs, nesting tables, and mobile markerboard screens move for group projects. Chemical-resistant tables in the science lab withstand experiments and remain unmarred for events in the space. In the back of the center is a robotics area that exploits an existing garage door for both indoor and outdoor activities.
ADA-compliant solid surface countertops in the kitchen adjust to multiple elevations for girls of all ages and heights to participate in healthy eating activities. Laminate floors and cabinets make clean-up a breeze, while carefully placed hooks for coats and backpacks offset the need for a storage room.
The center is a welcoming space where the Girl Scouts invite rural, suburban, and urban girls of all ages and skill levels to interact, take on leadership roles, and participate in premier activities and events, including many delivered through partnerships with businesses and community organizations.
In 2017, Girl Scouts USA released 23 new badges in STEM, the largest programming rollout in almost a decade and a month after 18 new badges in cybersecurity were added to the Girl Scout curriculum. In late-2017, the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker and Leader)™ program launched and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri are specifically focusing on STEM as a pathway for girls’ growth and leadership.
The center is booked for the next year, demonstrating that its design achieved the Girl Scouts’ goals on a minimal budget.