Woodson Girls Build Paper Helicopters!

On March 21, 2014, STEM facilitator, Tolu Rosanwo walked into her Sisters4Science classroom to find this note on the board:



6th grader, Ashanta Dean left a cheery note on the board and helped set the stage for an afternoon exploring aerodynamics! Ashanta and Brianna Marte had both earned two badges thus far, and that day they were presented with their 3rd digital badge: “Discover: Builiding Models.” The criteria for obtaining the badge was to create a model that relates to an idea or concept and use that model to describe that idea/concept. That day, the girls were to build paper helicopters and see how changes in their mass and propeller length would impact the time it took for them to fall to the ground/twirling motion.


Ashanta gives examples of models on the board

Before building paper helicopters, Tolu decided to give the girls a brief physics lesson on “free fall” and air resistance. She took a piece of paper and a bag of animal crackers and explained that two objects. She told the girls that no matter their mas they should fall to the earth at the same time since the only force working on a free-falling object is the force of gravity. When Tolu had Brianna and Ashanta drop the two objects at the same time, they had difficulty believing her because the animal crackers fell to the ground first! The explanation? Air resistance!


Brianna drops a paper and Ashanta, a bag of animal crackers to the ground

Then, Tolu took two sheets of paper of the same size, and crumpled one up into a ball while leaving the other perfectly flat. When she asked the girls which one would fall first even though the are the same weight, Brianna said, “The balled up one.” Why? Ashanta said, “More of its weight is in the middle.” What physicists we have! The girls dropped the pieces of paper and their hypothesis was correct! More than before, they recognized air resistance to be a force to be reckoned with! After so much thinking, they all had a “Brain Break,” which is part of an initiative to get kids moving in the classroom.


Brain Break! 4 Minute Dance Party to Jungle Boogie

After the Brain Break, the girls dove into building their paper helicopter models. They folded them as indicated on the sheets of paper and tested how folding the paper in different ways and adding paper clips would change how long it took them to fall to the ground and how quickly they would rotate in the air.


Ashanta and Brianna make model helicopters

Like any good scientists, Ashanta and Brianna also recorded their observations.



Using their observations, they built two more helicopters: one that would take the longest to fall, and the other with the shortest fall-time.


Brianna dropping one of her helicopters

The girls found that an unfolded piece of paper took longer time to fall (with much less rotation) than a folded helicopter with a paper clip at its base.

As the day came to the end, the girls were informed that they certainly met the criteria to receive their third digital badge! In addition, they received Mae Jemison’s 100 Year Starship! This book was generously provided by Stories From Cory, an initiative that provides free books to under-resourced classrooms. Jemison as a role model has been a theme for the Woodson Girls this year, and it is only fitting that they get her book when they build models of their own.

Tolu Rosanwo


Showing off their books!




Let’s Move!

What do you get when you mix a yoga, cool music, and girls who love to dance? A great time! This past week at YWLCS we had the lovely Vienna from Mindful Practices come to teach the girls Hip-Hop Yoga. We started with a fun introduction exercise to get the girls to introduce themselves. One by one, we went in a circle saying our names and simultaneously striking a pose to express our personalities.  We then moved on the a warmup exercise.
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But what is all this movement doing?  Well, yoga has been used for centuries as a relaxation exercise that improves strength, balance and posture. And by infusing it with hip hop we were able to add a cardio portion to really get the girls heart rates up and increase circulation! The dance was taught in sections so that the girls could get everything down and put it all together in the end. The full length dance integrated several poses like the child’s pose, mountain and the king dancer pose and seamlessly transitioned to cool  hip hop dances and that used up most of the space in the hallway! In the end, we put the whole dance to the Katy Perry’s Dark Horse!


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After the dance portion, Vienna taught the girls the value of self control. She had each girl take a cotton ball and move it from one end of their hand to the other using only their breath. They even put their hand together and tried to move the cotton balls from one hand to another using the same technique. After several failed attempts to get the cotton ball to stay on their hands the girls finally succeeded-definitely an exercise in patience if nothing else!

The girls truly had a blast moving around this session! It was a nice change of pace from some of our other lessons and a completely different and refreshing approach to understanding our the science of our bodies!




Why do we see what we see? Visual Perception at Woodson North

Over the passed few weeks at Woodson North, our students have had the privilege of learning from an Immunologist and Ichthiologist! On Friday, March 14, Brianna Marte, one of our brightest and most dedicated Sisters4Science students explored the field of psychology with Dr. Sarah Elliot. Dr. Elliot is a professor of psychology at Roosevelt University and investigates how the neural processes of visual perception relate to social attitudes.


Dr. Elliot introduces Brianna to the several fields within the study of psychology!

When Dr. Elliot asked Brianna what she thought “psychology” was Brianna quickly responded, “The study of people.” Brianna went on to learn that day, that psychologists do not only study people but also how people view themselves. STEM Facilitator, Tolu Rosanwo, also alerted Brianna to the possible badge for her that day: “Discover Scientific Knowledge.” Brianna was challenged to not only think but sound like a scientist by using new vocabulary for Dr. Elliot’s lesson and understand some major concepts.



Dr. Elliot had a series of thought-provoking videos and exercises for Brianna. Brianna not only learned where in the brain allows us to recognize people (fusiform gyrus), but disorders where people cannot even recognize themselves in the mirror (Prosopagnosia)! Brianna also did an activity identifying celebrities and thought about why she could recognize them without even seeing their faces.


Who is that? “Barack Obama!” Brianna recognized our president without seeing his face because of his ears and also because like many of us, she has seen him thousands of times on television.

Lastly, Brianna did a study on racial bias in determining the ethnicity of others. Dr. Elliot first showed her actors, Ken Watanabe, Bruce Lee, and Ken Jeong (Japanese, Chinese and Korean respectively), and asked Brianna to guess their ethnicities. Dr. Elliot explained that it was hard for Brianna largely because Brianna is not Asian and does not see many Asian faces on a daily basis. To experience this again, Dr. Elliot gave Brianna a test where she had to determine whether a “racially ambiguous” face was “Black” or “White” and her answer changed after looking at a series of black faces and white faces for a time. In a matter of minutes, Brianna learned that her perceptions of others are so strongly influenced by what she considers normal or average.


Is this face white or black?

The experience that day was incredibly fascinating, and Brianna learned that psychology is more than just “therapy” but is a vast field with many implications answering many questions.


Thanks, Dr. Elliot for such an intriguing lesson!

P.S. Brianna got her badge!

Tolu Rosanwo


Fun and Science with Helium Balloons!

Last week at Sisters4Science at Reavis, the Sisters learned about buoyancy, and had some fun with helium balloons!

First, we talked about forces on earth and in space. The girls knew that there was no air in space, and no gravity either. This means that if we were in space, we would just float away! If there’s gravity here on earth, then how does a balloon stay floating in the air? Kemonte answered that balloons have helium in them, and we discussed how helium is less dense than air, and the difference between the two densities pushes the balloon up with a force called “buoyancy.” Since gravity pushes balloons down, and buoyancy pushes them up, we wanted to see how we could make the forces exactly equal, so that the balloon stays floating in the middle of the room, without floating all the way up to the ceiling or sinking all the way down to the floor–this is called making the balloon “neutrally buoyant.”
So, the girls experimented! We had tape, paperclips, and straws, and just about anything in the room that they wanted to use (like markers and paper). Each Sister tried taping and attaching different objects to the balloon in different ways to try to make it neutrally buoyant. Halfway through, Mahogany discovered that where you put an object on the balloon matters just as much as which object you use–she noticed that if you put even a small paperclip right in the center of the balloon, it would sink right away, whereas if you put the same paperclip around the edges or on the string, the balloon would float.
Finally, Kemonte got her balloon to float right in the middle of the room–neutrally buoyant! One minute later, Aaliyah and Mahogany got their balloon to be neutrally buoyant too! It was interesting to see the two different designs, and how each Sister took a different path to achieve the same result.
At the end, each Sister wrote in her journal about why she thinks she earned the Investigation badge–for identifying the research question, designing an experiment, and being able to explain how the experiment set-up helps answer the question. Congrats on getting your Discover Investigation badges, Sisters!

Eat Healthy, Live Healthy!

Parents believe that the more they accommodate to their children’s wants, the more the children will listen to them. False. Yes, giving your kid candy might prevent an “I am tired from school” tantrum, but it will not benefit them at all.

This week Finkl’s Sisters 4 Science learned about healthy eating. Our incredible guest was nutritionist Iris Berry! Iris told the girls that a healthy meal doesn’t take long to prepare. She gave us a delicious demonstration using mangoes and strawberries. Iris also used salt, peppers, and lemon which she said were only used as additives and preservatives. Additives and preservatives should not be used as much because they sometimes intervene with our digestive process. That is why we should smell our food before eating it: Smelling begins the digestive process and it also prevent the excessive use of additives like salt.


Iris told us to, “Pick foods for what you’re going to do during the day. ”

Jennifer, Lesly, Denise, and Jade enjoying the mouth watering mangoes and strawberries.

She also mentioned how people choose bad food such as the abuse of caffeine. For instance, if we need a lot of energy  we can choose to eat fish that gives us plenty of energy without any after effect. Then Lesly added, “Not coffee because it’s bad. It’s like a drug that gives you energy but then it gets you tired.”

Iris  spoke about the importance of … “poop and pee.” She explained that we should pay attention to what our body tells us because it’s always right. She said that sometimes our bodies need more than just healthy food. Drinking 8 ounces 8 times a day was of extreme importance for the well being of our bodies. She said that drinking 8 oz of water before a meal can help digest it better. In addition, chewing your food right can help as well. She also told the curious girls how food went from “yummy” to “yucky.” Iris told them that there were ” acids and enzymes that break down their food which then went to be extracted, absorbed, and last but not least, eliminated.”  However, paying attention to what your body gets rid of is as important as paying attention to what goes inside of your body. Iris told us that a normal stool should come out easy and in a shape of a banana. Normal pee shouldn’t be yellow, transparent, or blue. It should be pale and if its something like blue then it’s because we ate a candy with strong food dye.

I think it’s safe to say that the girls learned that  a healthy meal can be done as fast as opening a bag of hot cheetos.

Drink water, chew well, and eat healthy!

Thank you Iris!!!


Slimey Mass

March 3, 14

By Special Guest Miss Maris Haire

The bright minds at Perspectives Joslin were very excited to find out the experiment of the day – making slime! To begin, everyone wrote down what they thought a “polymer” was. We discovered that while we’ve heard this word before, we didn’t quite know what it meant! After sharing our hypotheses with each other, I explained that a polymer is a material that has long chains of molecules bound together. Now we were ready to investigate this further through experimentation.

We learned that making slime is a delicate art! First we all followed directions to make slime using glue, water, borax, and food coloring. We observed the mixture along to way to notice the effect of each ingredient. We figured out that borax was the key ingredient that turned the watery water/glue mixture into a slimey mass that could be picked up and stretched. Some then decided to get creative by adding more glue, water, borax, and food coloring to see the effect on their slime. After some individual experimentation, we came together as a group to talk about the differences in each other’s slime.

The girls noticed that some slime was much more firm than others, and tended to break rather than stretch very far. Other slime seemed to have a marbled color rather than a solid purple all the way through. And yet another was so watery that it was impossible to pick up! We named these specimen and took turns writing down observation in our journals. We hypothesized what may have made the slime take on those particular characteristics- was it too much water? Not enough borax? After hypothesizing individually, we discussed our theories. We learned that the first had too much borax, which was making the slime bind tightly together and therefore less able to stretch freely. The second hadn’t been well mixed between each step, which caused the color to marble. The last simply didn’t have enough glue! It was exciting to learn that there were scientific explanations for these differences. The girls then collectively recalled the proper procedure for making slime so that they could recreate the experiment if they wanted to. We made sure to note the importance of the order of ingredients!

To finish up the day, we discussed our new definition of polymers, and how it applied to the slime we made. We learned about other types of polymers such as plastics, Kevlar, and nylon. We also talked about solids, liquids, and gases, and how a polymer has some properties of both solids and liquids. We used the white board to draw containers of solids, liquids, and gases, and polymers. In the solids, we showed molecules tightly packed together in a uniform formation. In liquids, the molecules were close together, but they were in a completely random formation. They also took the shape of the container. The molecules in the gas were spread out randomly and filled the entire container. In a polymer, we drew long chains of connected molecules that took on the shape of the container.

Overall, the girls really enjoyed this fun learning experience!

Nourishing Our Body

February 24, 14

"All For Badges" introduced by Ms. Meisel

“All For Badges” introduced by Ms. Meisel

We had another load of snow in the middle of February.  With all snow storms left behind, we got to taste a little of Spring.  Banana. Pecan. Date. Cinnamon. Vanilla Syrup.  It was such a nourishing day with Ms. Iris Berry who is a Health and Lift-style Coach and a founder of BerryWell Living.  Before we got into the nutritious lesson with Ms. Berry, Ms. Krystal Meisel joined our class to help with team-building, plus to launch “All For Badges” for the girls.  Ms. Meisel introduced the electronic badges to the class—what these are, how these work, and why we need these badges.  Ms. Meisel and I helped the girls to set up the account so they can collect the badges.

Pecan. Date. Banana. Cinnamon. Vanilla Syrup.

Pecan. Date. Banana. Cinnamon. Vanilla Syrup.

Here’s our nutritious lesson.  On the table, the ingredients for Nice Cream were ready to be blended.  Yes, you read it correctly.  Nice Cream.  No bad ingredients and nutrients were there, but everything nourishing our body.  The girls were very curious about something like cocoa beans.  Dates.  It was their first time to taste, even see the dates.  “Would you like to try them?”  I asked.  “It’s very sweet.  Not like sugar, but very healthily sweet,” added Ms. Berry.  Ms. Berry had it into tiny pieces so that the girls could taste it.  “Dates help our body circulate the blood well,” explained Ms. Berry.  The girls enjoyed tasting a little piece of dates.

Sweet Moment Tasting Crunch Nice Cream

Sweet Moment Tasting Crunch Nice Cream

Ms. Berry put each ingredient into a blender with ice cubes.  “Banana helps us digest well. Pecan has Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin D.”  She explained as she put each ingredient into the blender.  “What about Vitamin C?” One girl asked.  “Yes, it has a little of Vitamin C.”  Once she had everything in the blender, she added cinnamon powder and a bit of vanilla syrup.  With the ice cubes, the blender had a quite heavy sound.  Once the sound got softer, we finally had Nice Cream!  Very Crunch Nice Cream.  The girls absolutely loved Nice Cream!  The girls were hesitant first tasting dates, but they loved dates in Nice Cream!  The girls were so thrilled knowing this recipe.  They so wanted to try this at home right after our class.  With Ms. Berry’s help, the girls created other nutritious recipes that are nourishing our body, our mind, and our soul.