Brownie troop gets acquainted with computers

March 28, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

Girls in Brownie Troop 1910 are learning that computers are not just for boys.

With the help of troop leaders who use computers at home and at work, the 13 girls have come to like CD ROM programs just as much as Barbie dolls.

"Computers are a technology that is up and coming," said Linda Calameris, a troop coordinator for the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland who oversees a handful of troops in Ellicott City, Elkridge, and east Columbia.

"I believe the more time they have sitting down at computers, the more comfortable they are with technology," Ms. Calameris said.

The girls, who range in age from 6 to 9, have already logged enough time on computers to be able to handle a variety of programs.

During troop meetings at Glenmar United Methodist Church in Ellicott City, they combine educational computer games with arts and crafts. During a recent Scouting event, they were the only troop to include computers in their display.

Computers "are fun to play with, and you can draw on them," said Megan Manley, a third-grader from Ellicott City who attends Waterloo Elementary.

Troop leader Fawn Foerster said that she's not sure if her troop spends an inordinate amount of time on computers but that the devices are important to the Scouts because many of the girls' parents work closely with computers.

Ms. Foerster's husband, Scott, operates his own computer business called Computer Forest Services. The mother of one troop member oversees the media center at Ellicott Mills Middle School, while another operates an after-school computer program used in many of the county's public schools.

"We have a fair amount of mommies and daddies who are scientifically, technology-based," Ms. Foerster said.

The Scouts said their exposure to computers has helped them understand that computers are for both boys and girls.

"It's not like it has all Barbie dolls," Megan said, referring to computers. "It's not like it has robots."

Others have gained confidence in their computer skills by watching their parents use computers.

"My mom uses one to order things and keep track of information and to answer questions," said Caitlin Faupel, an 8-year-old from Ellicott City.

The Scouts say they aren't particularly impressed with video games.

Video games "are boring and straightforwardly violent," Ms. Foerster said. "CD ROMs are holistic. It's teamwork, investigative, cooperative learning."

During one recent troop meeting, the Scouts clustered around a CD ROM program called "Oceans Below," which enables its users to "explore" such exotic locales as the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific.

"Everybody plays on computers at school," said Caitlin, who attends Rockburn Elementary in Elkridge. "Everybody needs to learn this stuff."

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