Girl Scouts Learn the Science of Happiness

Don’t worry, be happy

NEWBURGH, N.Y. – May 2015 – Yasmine Kalkstein, assistant psychology professor at Mount Saint Mary College, and student volunteers from the college taught about 30 Girl Scouts the science of happiness on Thursday, May 7.

Through the Mount’s Beginnings in Psychological Science program, five student volunteers gave the girls a jumpstart on their Science of Happiness badge, which requires scouts to design their own research project.

After a short psychology lecture from Kalkstein, the Girl Scouts wrote letters of gratitude or forgiveness, as research has shown that focusing on others can increase one’s own happiness, Kalkstein explained.

The girls then pondered a question: “Can watching something sad make you feel sad?” and vice versa. The scouts formulated a hypothesis, and headed home to collect more data.

The Mount volunteers were Tabitha Paez of New York, N.Y.; Lauren Romao of Brick, N.J.; Alexis Balles of Salisbury Mills, N.Y.; and Julia Bianco of Greenwood Lake, N.Y.; as well as 2014 Mount alumna Chelsea Hepburn.

“It’s worked out fantastically,” said Kalkstein of the program. “Chelsea did a great job and set the groundwork for doing this again.”

The Mount’s Beginnings in Psychological Science aims to:

  • share psychological science with young students and inspire them with concrete experiences;
  • educate parents and teachers about psychology;
  • and create a medium for psychology students at the Mount to share their knowledge of the field.

According to Kalkstein, 16 students have lent their skills to the program so far, and volunteers have presented to about 20 local classrooms during the last academic year.

Schools can apply to have Mount students teach about psychology in their own classroom. For information, contact

Mount Saint Mary College’s 52nd annual commencement ceremony will take place on May 16, president Dr. Anne Carson Daly will recognize nearly 500 bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates.  


CAPTION: Mount psychology student Alexis Balles of Salisbury Mills, N.Y. (left center) discusses the psychology of happiness with area Girl Scouts. Balles will graduate on May 16. Photo provided.