Animals!

Last week in Sisters4Science at Reavis, we welcomed Ms. Brianna from the Anti-Cruelty Society and learned all about careers with animals!

First, Ms. Brianna asked us all if we had any pets; Aaliyah has a dog, and Mahogany and Kemonte both have cats. Ms. Brianna works in the Anti-Cruelty Society, which is an animal shelter that takes care of pets that don’t have homes. We learned about cool jobs you can get in an animal shelter, like a veterinarian, a vet tech, and an animal trainer. The Sisters got to try using a clicker, which animal trainers use–it makes a sound that signals to animals that they did something good, and then the animal is more likely to repeat that action (like sitting, for example). Kemonte wants to get a clicker so that she can train her cat to do tricks!
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The Sisters were very curious about animals, so they asked Ms. Brianna A LOT of really great questions, like Where do dogs and cats come from? We learned that dogs evolved from wolves over a very long time, because humans started using wolves to help take care of livestock or to hunt. Some types of dogs come from different places–chihuahuas come from Mexico! Mahogany was very interested to hear that cats came from ancient Egypt (where people used to worship them!)
The Sisters also asked about various biological things related to animals. Aaliyah knew about procedures called neutering (for males) and spaying (for females), which prevents pets from reproducing. This is very important, as Mahogany said, because cats can have up to 12 kittens at a time! We also learned that when cats like you, they rub against your leg because that spreads their pheromones on you, which marks you as “theirs.”
It was a fun and engaging session, made much better by the great questions and excitement brought by the Sisters. Awesome job, ladies!
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Strawberry DNA

Last week in Sisters4Science at Reavis, we welcomed Ms. Joyce, and she taught us how to extract DNA from strawberries!

First, the Sisters shared with everyone what they already knew about DNA–Aaliyah remembered that it was in human cells, and Kemonte recognized DNA because it was used on the Jerry Springer Show to see if two people were related. Ms. Joyce and the Sisters agreed that DNA can be found in any living thing: humans, animals, plants, and even bacteria! Then we found out an easy way to see DNA (without a microscope).
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Each of the girls took a strawberry in a ziploc bag and smashed it all up to break the cells. Then, we added “DNA extraction buffer” (soap, salt, and water) to the mashed strawberry. We poured our strawberry/buffer mixture through a coffee filter so that strawberry juice with DNA in it would drip down into a plastic cup, separate from proteins and cells and other strawberry bits. After a little bit, each Sister added the strawberry juice to a tube of alcohol, and when we swirled it around, we could see DNA in the tube! The Sisters observed that the DNA was whitish and gooey; Mahogany said it looked like saliva.
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We closed the session by talking about contributions that women have made in DNA research: Rosalind Franklin was a scientist who was very important in discovering the structure of DNA, the double helix. Because the Sisters were able to take the small-scale model of strawberry DNA extraction and apply it to a larger concept or idea (like extracting DNA from human cells to test them and see if people are related), they earned the Discover Building Models badge. That’s the last badge; good job, Sisters!
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Yeast Balloon

Subbed and Written by Bori Kim

Our Bright Young Female Scientist, Brianna

Our Bright Young Female Scientist, Brianna

It was such a lovely spring day! A bit windy outside, but the wind could not stop a bright young girl to enjoy her afternoon with fun science! Brianna loves science. Loves to try new experiments. We welcomed our guest scientist, Ms. Chen. Ms. Chen is a lab-researcher who studies bio-metabolism as a part of Molecular Biology. She is one of the behind-the-scenes people in the medical field. Ms. Chen supports doctors by informing them which medicine would work best for each patient that has been diagnosed with diabetes whereas doctors meet the patients in person.

Control & Variables

Control & Variables

There she was with balloons and water-bottles. Of course more than these two. Yeast. Sugar. Warm Water. We were about to blow the balloons with the yeast. Brianna was very excited to create different variables with these materials. The one as a control had been already set by Ms. Chen. Yeast, sugar, warm water inside the bottle and in a bowl that had the bottle in it. Brianna created one without sugar and one without water. While we were waiting a bit for the balloons to be blown up, Ms. Chen shared why she wanted to major what she is doing now. Ms. Chen grew up around/with science even when she was a little girl. Her father was a scientist, so Ms. Chen was always exposed to new science activities at home. Later in her college years, one of her professors at UC-Berkley encouraged her to be a biologist. Bio-metabolism has been her passion ever since.

Back to our red balloons, it was very clear what had blown the balloon. “Which variable do you think made the balloon blown?” asked Ms. Chen. “The sugar, maybe,” responded Brianna. “Think about this. Sugar is the food that sustains Yeast’s life and the warm water wakes up the yeast” Ms. Chen elaborated a little bit for Brianna. Brianna paused a little bit then said, “We need both sugar and water so that we can have a balloon full-blown.” “Yes, yeast needs both to create carbon dioxide. That’s how the balloon is being blown up here,” explained Ms. Chen.

We only had sugar and warm water as a variable, but there are other variables that we can try. Different time period. Different shapes of bottles. These two other variables affect the balloon size as well. We had a small class, but it didn’t matter at all. Our work was very productive!

“Let’s Fly to the Air!”

Subbed and Written by Bori Kim

On the windy spring day, I had a wonderful opportunity to sub for Ms. Brittany’s class at YWLCS and to meet with Ms. Karen Staten, the guest scientist for YWLCS girls. Ms. Staten is a Paralegal Specialist at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at Great Lakes Region.

She had a beautiful presentation displayed before the girls came in. When the girls were all set to have our Sisters4Science session, Ms. Staten asked them, “Tell me one thing like about your school.” The girls were very hesitant to respond. “I don’t know about your school. You need to tell me,” again asked Ms. Staten. One girl said, “I like math class” and “I don’t, but I like music,” another girl followed.

Pilot License

Pilot License

Once everyone was in class, Ms. Staten introduced what FAA is and this governmental organization does. “Every pilot, who navigates the flight on the air, needs a pilot license. They must have it in order to be a pilot,” said Ms. Staten as she showed us an image of the pilot license. She went over what kinds of work the FAA does, such as an air traffic controlling, aircraft engineering, and even spaceship training with NASA. These were big job to do and even so many opportunities for the girls to work in science field! Ms. Staten gave us a task that has a little glimpse of what air engineers do. Calculation. She had two math story problems with equations we could use for us to solve. It was about figuring out the lengths of each wing and its weight.

"Do you have people out there search Malaysia Flight?"

“Do you have people out there search Malaysia Flight?”

After we went over the engineering field, we took a journey to meet, not in person though, African American female pilot and astronaut. Ms. Bessie Coleman and Dr. Mae Jemison. Ms. Bessie Coleman went through so many struggles in her life before she became the first African-American pilot. Of course, there were a lot of obstacles and barriers. Like men who would not want women, especially the young ladylike Ms. Bessie to be a pilot at all. Ms. Bessie, however, made her dream come true. Female pilot as the first African-American! Her life, not just as a pilot, but whole, encouraged all of us not to give in even if we face struggles and have hard times. Another lady we met was Dr. Mae Jemison who flew to outer space. She was a medical doctor, business-person, and even a dancer! Such a fabulous woman! The girls were very curious if she would dance outside of the earth. Ms. Staten smiled and showed us a video. Yes, Dr. J did dance inside the spaceship as she was floating around! We watched another video that taught us how our body would move outer space and what kind of exercise we need to make our body stable outer space. The girls had fun trying to do a strange exercise!

As closing, Ms. Staten gave each girl a folder with valuable information inside. She introduced the Summer Camp that all youth girls can participate. Other good programs and job descriptions as well. I encouraged the girls to find the internships that meet their needs and shared a bit of my internship experience at NASA in Hampton, Virginia. “Every internship you do counts towards your unpredictable life and they make your life fabulous although you do not know where your experience would lead you,” I said.

Psychology Fun!

March 1, 2014

In today’s class we learned about the world of psychology through a various interactive demonstrations. We started with a reading exercise. The girls were asked first to read words as they were written and then to read the color of each word and time each attempt. It was interesting to note that reading the color of the words was really difficult because the actual word was the name of another color.

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We then did an experiment modelling Pavlov’s experiment. In this experiment, Pavlov rang a bell before feeding his dog. He noted the saliva levels of the dog before he rang the bell and while the dog was eating. He repeated this experiment several times and to record a baseline for both salivary levels. Later, he rang a bell and did not feed the dog and noticed that its salivary levels were the same as if it were eating. This is called conditioning. In this experiment, we measured the girls’ resting and excited heart rates. To get an excited heart rate, the girls jumped up and down around the room. The Pavlovian part of the experiment was introduced as loud clapping before to signal it was time to jump. We repeated this several times and then ended by having the girls  listen to the clapping but not jump around. We saw that some of the girls heart rates increased even though they had not actually done any physical activity!

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We ended the day by finding our blind spots. Blind spots are areas in our field of vision that we cannot see. This is also connected to our depth perception.  We took sheets of paper and held them close to our eyes until a dot on the paper disappeared. We then had the girls close one eye and try to make the end of two pens touch. It was really difficult because their depth perception was significantly decreased!

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Everyone had a great time learning about psychology!!

Straw Bridges

Monday, March 17

By Bori Kim

Before the girls came in the Room 215, I had all the materials set on the table. Straws. Tapes. Paper Clips. Pennies and Paper Cup. The girls started to come in then asked me, “Ms. Bori, what are we doing today?” “What is all this?” Just by looking at the materials, the girls got excited for the day. “We are building something. You are going to be an engineer today.” The girls kept asking, “So what are we making or building?” I had to calm them down little bit. We had to set up the account on ForAll Badges before having the girls do the activity.

Design & Build

Design & Build

ForAll Badges is a digital rewarding program for K-12 students. There are criteria that students need to meet by doing science in order to earn a badge. The following activity that we have done meets the “Discover Building Models” badge criteria by designing the stable straw bridges. Let me walk you through our playful science!

I assigned three or four girls in one group so we had two groups to design and build stable straw brides. Each group was only allowed to have 20 straws and tape. No more than 20 straws. Nothing more than tapes. Since straws cannot hold heavy objects, the girls had to come up with the ways for straw bridges to hold an 8 oz cup of pennies and paper clips, using only tape and straws. Oh, they had only 20 minutes to work! In the beginning everyone was in hurry to build it fast. Then I reminded them, “Remember, your bridge needs to hold this cup of pennies and paper clips,” showing a 8oz cup of pennies and paper clips in it. The girls were trying to rearrange the straws to make it stable enough. One girl asked me if she could get more straws. “No, you only have 20 straws and tape. That is all you need,” I responded. The clock was ticking and they had to finish up.

"Science is not just facts on a thick book, but it has become real-life experience."

“Science is not just facts on a thick book, but it has become real-life experience.”

“Time’s up, ladies! Let’s set your bridge between chairs then we will drop pennies and paper clips. Who wants to be a penny dropper?” Amoriana volunteered for her group and Peyten for her group. “Let’s count it as Gabby drops clips and pennies.” The girls were counting and they were very excited to see if the bridge would fall down or not. See what happened; the bridge Gabby and her group peers designed did not collapse! The bridge was holding the cup until the end!

Next turn, it was time for Peyten’s group. They weren’t confident as they dropped the pennies and paper clips. “Please, do not criticize yourself. It is okay even if it falls down. We always need to try first and see what happens.” I told the girls. The bridge eventually fell down, but it was learning experience. As a closing, we discussed why Gabby’s bridge stayed between chairs and why not Peyten’s. We learned that it has to have a firm base at the bottom, especially at the center since the bridges we made had to hold the 8oz cup with weight in it. By designing and building the straw bridges, the girls were able to experience real-world science. For us, science is not boring anymore. Not just facts written down on a thick book, but science has become real-life experience!