Friday, January 17, 2020

How To Earn the Girl Scout Buckeye Stops Here IP Patch: It's an Ohio Unit Study for Teenagers!


I mention a lot that when I travel with the kids, one of my favorite things to do is help them earn related council's own fun patches and badges or retired IP patches. Having a project to complete on our trip encourages us all to do and experience things we wouldn't have chosen on our own, and having a goal in mind makes exploring historical, natural, and cultural sites more fun.

And since we homeschool, any one of these is a terrific spine for turning something into a miniature unit study. For Syd, this Ohio study for the purpose of earning the Council's Own Buckeye Stops Here IP patch was part of a US historical, cultural, and geographical study for eighth grade. For Will, it's the same, but her study is more comprehensive and long-term and will eventually count as part of one high school course that we're currently calling "America's Best Idea": A Multi-Disciplinary Study of the US and Its National Parks.

Pretentious-sounding high school class names are my specialty!

Here's the lovely Buckeye Stops Here IP patch:

Image credit here
And here's what a kid has to do to earn it!

Tangentially, many of these retired badges and IP patches can be challenging to find, and you'll pretty much never find them in a council store. The Girl Scout buy/sell/trade community is HUGE, however, and you can find just about anything in one of these spots if you search and ask and lurk and be ready to pounce when something is offered:

I don't remember which of those Facebook groups these physical IP patches were offered on, but it was for sure one of them! I claimed two as soon as I saw the listing, paid the seller via Paypal, and had them in my hands within the week.

Here's what we did to complete the seven requirements for the kids to earn this IP patch:

Skill Builders #1

Ohio is known as the “State of Eight” for having 8 U.S. Presidents call Ohio home. Find at least ten references (street names, cities, parks, libraries, schools, highways, etc.) in your area which commemorate these 8 Presidents. If you are working as a group, your group could put all the girls’ lists together and see how many different ways your area is carrying on the legacy of the “State of Eight”. 

This step was in some ways a bust, but was actually really fun to try, and it encouraged the kids to be very observant and inspired a lot of discussion. Before we went on our Ohio road trip in the summer of 2019, I had the kids research and record the names of these eight US presidents who called Ohio home.

Then they forgot my instruction to pack the list.

So for that entire road trip, they observantly noted the names of streets, cities, parks, libraries, schools, and highways as we passed them, and kept saying a lot of things like, "Columbus! That's a famous name! Is that a president? ...wait, no. Oops!" and "Montserrat St... surely that's SOMEONE famous!" and "Indian Hill. That seems kind of racist, no?", etc. We had a lot of interesting discussions about why public spaces get named the way that they do (I horrified them by telling them about the KFC Yum! Center, bless its heart), what it means to leave your name as a legacy (did you know that the Wilder Medal, named for and first presented to Laura Ingalls Wilder, was recently-ish renamed because it's an unfortunate fact that Laura, though awesome in lots of ways, was also low-key racist?), and why the word "Indian," like all other exonyms, is problematic in certain ways.

We did NOT find ten discrete references to the eight presidents, but nevertheless, I called this step completed and well worth the effort.

Skill Builders #3

Learn about a “tragedy” in Ohio history from a book or website—maybe a school history book! Create a dramatic skit, poem, story, or song about it and share it with families or a class or another group. 

This step was such a bummer! We cut this one short because during the research stage, Syd basically IMMEDIATELY discovered Jeffrey Dahmer, who, it turns out, lived off and on in Ohio!

... awesome.

She started screaming, eyes glued to the laptop screen, and I essentially ripped it out of her hands and then gave the children a VERY elided summary of his Wikipedia page

Like, seriously, have you READ Jeffrey Dahmer's Wikipedia page? That whole story is BONKERS! Yikes, you guys. And I hope that those police officers who dismissed bystanders' concerns and literally gave an injured, kidnapped child back to his kidnapper to be tortured and murdered haven't had a good night's sleep since, because that was some epic workplace incompetence there, fellas.

The children did not include Jeffrey Dahmer in their Slides presentation on Ohio, and for Pete's sake they certainly did NOT create a skit or song about him and share it with anyone! But they can both name one cannibal serial killer now, so... that's pretty cool.

Technology #1

Every state has their famous inventors, including Ohio! Find out what inventions have been “born” in Ohio—are they still being used today or have they been replaced with more “modern” versions? 

For some of these steps, I asked the kids to combine the information that they were researching and prepare a final Google Slides presentation of their complete project. Thanks to previous visits to Dayton, the kids know quite a lot about one particular Ohio invention--


--and used several of these resources to find out about others:


I especially like children's non-fiction books because they're an easy jumping-off point for further research.

Also, the kids now know that it was an Ohio native who kind of invented the hot dog in the US, and I feel like they have successfully worked that tidbit into every single conversation that we've had since that discovery.

Technology #3

Collect 10 Ohio history facts (you could have these facts from school studies in history or civics). Create a time line of the events and present the time line using one of the following methods: Poster, Scrapbook, Hyperstudio, Power Point. etc. 

The kids worked on this requirement at the same time that they worked on the list of inventions. I actually gave them each a checklist that asked them to note 10 important inventions or inventors and 10 interesting facts or historical events, so not everything in their presentation was a historical fact:


Syd was remarkably EVEN LESS informative in the first draft of her presentation:



For Pete's sake, we have BEEN TO WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT'S CHILDHOOD HOME, AND THAT HOME IS IN CINCINNATI:


That's why we do dry runs!

And that voice egging Syd on in the background is awfully supportive of her "alternate facts" considering that just moments later, Will would earn herself the assignment of a two-paragraph essay on appropriate audience behavior during a visual presentation.

Do we heckle the speaker during a presentation? No. No, we do not.

Service Projects #7

“Beautiful Ohio” and “Hang on Sloopy” are not the only songs associated with or written by Ohioans. Make a list of “Ohio Songs”, learn to sing or play them, and present a special “Ohio in Song” program for a group of senior citizens—bet they’ll sing along!

I think the kids liked this step the most of all! Spoiler alert: they did NOT present a program of Ohio songs for any of our Hoosier senior citizens. Instead, they created a shareable Spotify playlist of Ohio songs. And during this process, they discovered our collective FAVORITE SONG EVER.

The kids did this step before I'd started listening to Dolly Parton's America, or I would have recognized this song immediately, and immediately known its sub-genre:


That song, my Friends, is what's known as a murder ballad! There's a great analysis of murder ballads in the first episode of Dolly Parton's America, but when we first heard it, the kids and I were just like, "WUT."

And then we rewound it and played it again. Still crazy!!!

"On the Banks of the Ohio" was the finale song for their Ohio presentation, because of COURSE it was.

Career Exploration #1

Interview, shadow or research a female politician from Ohio. Find out what interested her about politics, what is interesting about her job, preparation she had for her office and aspirations she has about her role in changing the world for the better. 

Instead of this exact step, I asked the children to research the life of Victoria Woodhull for inclusion into their presentation. You might know her by the claim to fame that she's the first woman to run for the US presidency (years before women obtained suffrage, even!), but the kids also made the astounding discoveries that she super wanted people to live in communes and practice free love, she was jailed for publishing a lot of dirt on Reverend Henry Ward Beecher's alleged affair, and, alas, she thought eugenics was a great idea.

Damnit, Victoria! All you had to do was, you know, NOT THINK THAT THE CONTROLLED BREEDING OF LITERAL HUMAN BEINGS WAS AN AWESOME IDEA, BECAUSE IT WAS NOT AN AWESOME IDEA.

And as a kid she traveled in a family medicine show and did psychic readings on the rubes. Good times!

Career Exploration #3

Local newspapers are published in many communities. Some are daily, but most are weekly or even monthly in smaller communities. Locate a local newspaper reporter and interview him/her about their favorite stories about your community or invite them to attend your troop meeting to speak about their favorite local news stories. Maybe your troop could even get “in the paper”!

The kids have already done a few interviews and tours, etc., with TV and print journalists, so for this step I had them instead check out online newspapers from Ohio. 

Here's the Columbus Dispatch!

It's surprisingly interesting to browse through some random town's random local news. Their headlines are simultaneously slightly exotic and as mundane as ever. 

And just like that, there's seven activities completed and one IP patch earned! I was actually quite surprised at how many interesting things the kids found out, and how widely they ranged, intellectually, in pursuit of this patch. We learned about exonyms and eugenics, cannibal serial killers and murder ballads.

And hot dogs. DON'T forget about the hot dogs!

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