To Another Galaxy of Learning!

It finally came. The last day of session before our presentations. The girls were ready to get down to business and work on their boards. We have come a long way and I will say that I have seen changes in the girls and they enjoy learning science.

Of courseDec 2 - 7 to end our last day, we have to remind the girls that science is all different types of things and who better than Dr. Elise Jennings to help the girls learn about astronomy. Dr. Jennings first introduced herself and what do you know, she has an accent. She allowed the girls to try and guess where she was from. “I think you’re from England.” Said my 8th grader Victoria, and she was close but not quite. Ashaunti took a turn and guessed London. She was also close but not exactly the right place. After the girls were stumped Elise told them she was from Ireland. This was nice for the girls to not only meet women in science but also expand their minds to meet women from other countries as well.

Dr. Elise Jennings had an activity for them where they were able to distinguish different types of galaxies. They had 2 separate sheets of paper with numerous pictures of galaxies on them. The girls were put into teamsDec 2 - 2 and with those pictures, which galaxies looked alike? And why did they look alike? We had 3 separate groups and today I was extremely proud of Jakaylah, Semajah, and janiah’s group. They created their own chart, took turns in picking out the galaxies, and also put they’re own opinions on why they thought the galaxies looked similar. After all the groups were done they had their chance to present to the class. I noticed that most of the girls picked the same similar galaxies which helped to know as a whole they were on the same page.

The girls enjoyed learning about galaxies and thanked Dr. Jennings in coming in. I spoke to the girls about their projects and it was time to continue that team work in decorating their boards. I helped the group with the DNA extraction and Ms. Harrell helped the group that wanted to present the pop rocks experiment. The girls are looking forward to next week and I’m excited for them to show they’re family and friends what they have learned so far.

The Wonders of Physics!

On a chilly afternoon on NovembeNov 21 - 16r 21st, Sisters4Science at Funston Elementary was in for an awesome day! For our guest scientist, we had Dr. Guadiana return to teach the students more about different scientific experiments. With her, she brought a lot of cool materials for her lessons. Once the girls saw that, they were super excited! The first lesson for this day had to do with electricity. Dr. Guadiana’s husband built a board that had many wires and a car alarm. This lesson was focused on what can produce electricity. The materials for this was water, sand, and the girls themselves. For the sand and water, the girls found out that the water did produce any electrons to cause a car light to turn on but the sand did not produce any. For the car alarm, the girls all held and realized that they could all turn on the sound. It was super loud but the girls had a blast with that!

Nov 21 - 9The next lesson began with dry ice, a bowl, dish soap, and some water. Dr. Guadiana placed the dry ice in the bowl filled with water. It instantly began to smoke and bubble! There were definitely a bunch of Ohhs and Ahhs from the girls at that moment. Dish soap was added to the brim of the bowl in order to create bubbles from the bubbling water. The bubbles contained smoke-like gas and the girls were excited to see them pop!

The last and final lesson was about acids, bases, and pH. The girls learned what basic and acidic meant and how to test the pH balance of a liquid. Dr. Guadiana brought in some very basic and very acidic liquids. Each of the girls had a turn at testing out the pH balance with the testing strips. I have to say, this session was by far one of the coolest! The girls are absolutely loving the scientists and the many experiments and lessons they bring along with them. Hopefully next week we do something equally as fun!

Preparing for Presentations!

November 18th was an important day at Woodson! It was our ‘Reflections of Knowledge’ Prep Day. Today it was time for the girls to really prepare to show others what they have learned thus far while a part of Sisters4Science. I brought all the materials they needed to get everything started and practice their demonstrations! Now in prior sessions, we have asked the girls what exactly did they want to do for their presentation. One of the groups of girls decided to do the pop rocks and soda experiment that we did at the beginning of the semester; and another group was inspired by the DNA extraction experiment with Dr. Shulla. In the DNA group, Arianna had said that she actually wants to try the experiment where you extract your own DNA. I was impressed that they wanted to try something new and we gave it a try.

The girls were separated into their respective groups and started figuring out the scientific method process related to their chosen experiment. What was their purpose, what were the materials, and what will be our conclusion? After the girls had written out what they needed, they were ready to dig deep into the scientific aspects of their process. The DNA  extraction group had used Gatorade in order to start the experiment and of course they were happy about that. “Can we drink it after we are done?” Tahnya was the first to ask that question. Overall they were able to complete the experiment and know what they were going to explain on their poster board. It was nice to see the girls get excited while they were preparing. Jakaylah was very attentive today and I could tell that she really is open to new things. She is one of many who loves to learn.

The girls had a great time revisiting what they have learned from our Sisters4Science sessions so far! We are so excited to share them with others at our Reflection of Knowledge/WOW! event on December 9th!

DNA Extraction from Strawberries!

Nov 18 - 1

At our session of Sisters4Science on November 18th, the girls learned about DNA extraction! Joyce Pieretti from the University of Chicago joined us and told us about the things in our body that make us who we are. Unsurprisingly, our super smart group of girls already knew a lot about DNA! One of the girls, Gabby Perry, told us that DNA stands for “deoxyribonucleic acid”, while Bailey Fields let us know that DNA is basically the building blocks of our bodies. Who knew we were just like legos!

Nov 18 - 5

For the experiment, the girls were each given a strawberry to extract its DNA.  Using soap, water, and salt the girls were able to filter the strawberries through coffee filters to get a solution that they would extract the DNA out of. The girls got to work with ethanol and learned some pipetting techniques, which are great skills to have if they ever want to work in a real lab! Nyssa Doss mentioned that pipetting is similar to sucking soda up a straw. However, we don’t want to mouth pipette the chemicals we use in lab, ladies!

At the end of the experiment, the girls noted that the final DNA product was much thicker than the original strawberry juice they got from the filtering! They allNov 18 - 4 had great ideas for why this happened, but Kiara Williams-Davis mentioned that it may have been because the ethanol changed the consistency of the material. Great guess, Kiara!

All in all, the girls had a great time and learned a lot about DNA. At the end of program we talked about other places that people could extract DNA from, and Joyce told them that DNA can be found almost anywhere in the body. How cool!

Creating Your Own Disease!

The Marquette girls brought more of their friends to the program on November 19th, which made the session even better today! Since we had more new faces, I did a brief introduction of myself and let the girls play two truths and a lie. This game helped make the girls feel more comfortable, especially Nina. Nina is an 8th grader and she was the one who had a lot of questions and also was more open to talk to the other girls.

Nov 19 - 3 Nov 19 - 2

After we got better acquainted I introduced the girls to our guest scientist, Maria Ayala Ramirez. She is a student working towards her PhD study immunology. She had prepared the girls to a process similar to Gryffindor. Do you remember Harry Potter?? Maria had created cards of different organisms and they had to place them in the right categories: Parasites, Bacteria, Viruses, and Cells. It was interesting to see the girls read the scientific names of the organisms. “These words are too long!”; “Yea and do they really look like this inside your body” Mahina, another 8th grader, was a little taken back from all the possible living things that can be good or bad for you.

After they went through all the cards it was now their turn to use their imagination. Maria and I brought out the construction paper and markers and told the girls to create their own organisms. They all had their time to draw their own organism, name it, and what it exactly does. Lanaise, an 8th grader, created a bacteria named Enzema. This bacteria was good for it cures and fights any bad bacteria or viruses. Kayla, an 8th grader, explained her bacteria. “The bacteria I made is a bad bacteria, it causes internal bleeding and how you can get it is from infected air.” I was impressed by the ideas the girls had for their bacteria, whether it was good or bad. The girls had a fun time learning about microorganism a and were glad to hear they could take their creations home, so they can show their families. It was a successful session!

Nov 19 - 9 Nov 19 - 5

Oozing Brains and Galaxy Slime Are Out of this World!

Good day to everyone! Sisters4Science at Funston Elementary was super exciting on November 14th! Not only did we have a scientist, but we also had visitors! Observing our session was Natasha Smith-Walker, Project Exploration’s Executive Director, and Syda Segovia Taylor, Director of Programs and Community Relations; and one of our board members, Dr. Judy Lubin.  For this week’s session, Dr. Guadiana returned to work with the girls! She kept her promise to the girls and brought in preserved brains.  Three of them were from mice and a larger brain belonged to a ferret. The girls had so many questions this week. One of the most interesting questions was: “Do the animals suffer when you kill them?!” Dr. Guadiana did such a great job at explaining that these animals lead super happy lives and the scientists do not kill them. If anything, the animals were given medicine that made them feel absolutely nothing. The girls interacted with Dr. Guadiana a lot!

Nov 14 - 3Nov 14 - 1

This week, Dr. Guadiana brought in a few experiments to show the girls. One was that of a volcano in which she mixed vinegar and baking soda. The girls loved the reaction between the two ingredients. They were so excited they wanted to see a larger reaction, but it would have been too dangerous for the class. The next experiment was with mixing an acid with a sort of powder that created a thick liquid. We then placed it on a hot plate and waited for the liquid to become clear. After that happened, the liquid turned back into its original state of being tiny crystals. The girls had way too much fun actually seeing the liquid back to its original state! The last and final experiment was something that everyone could do. Now, when I say everyone I mean it! Natasha, Syda, and Judy joined the girls and I in creating galaxy slime! It was a mixture of glue, food coloring, starch, and some glitter! All the girls could personalize their slime with their favorite color and shape of glitter. I know that this week, the girls really did enjoy all of the many experiments taught by our scientist. We cannot wait for what’s to come next week with her! Till then my friends!

Nov 14 - 5

Galaxy Slime!

Nov 14 - 4

Is this what it’s supposed to look like?