TrueChild Lesson #2

 This week at S4S we returned to TrueChild with another lesson about gender and gender norms! The girls were given magazines like Vogue and asked to pick out pictures of women that they thought did and did not fit societal standards of beauty. When the girls asked what that meant, MacKenzie said that she thought it meant things that girls have Feb 17 - 1to be to be considered beauty. “Girls are supposed to be skinny, have nice hair, and always dress well” said MacKenzie. With that definition in mind, the girls sorted through their magazines and found plenty of pictures to put on the board. The girls then were asked to put the pictures of women who did fit societal standards on one side, and those who did not on the other side. When the pictures were up next to each other on the board, the girls were able to see the requirements that the media sets for them when it comes to being a girl. Ja’nyha said that it was even hard to find any women who did not look perfect. When I asked the girls how I felt about this, many of them said that it was annoying. “If this is all we see then we feel like we’re not pretty enough unless we look like this”, said Antoinette. On a similar note, Bailey noticed that the magazines made it seem like a girl’s only concern should be how good she looks. However, the girls all agreed that they shouldn’t let magazines or the media tell them how to look and act. Women are often told to be a certain way but the girls of Ariel know that they can be whoever they want to be!  These types of revelations are so amazing coming from our middle school students!
To get their legs as well as their brains pumping, the girls did a quick physical activity after our discussion. Because we had just talked about female empowerment and what it really meant to be a woman, there seemed no better thing to do than to listen to some girl power music and have a dance party! Gabby said she loves the song BO$$ by 5th Harmony, so we put that on and got to groovin’!
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Lava Lamps and Floating Paper Clips!

Written by our STEM Facilitator, Eugenia Ruiz:
Feb 13 - 9 Feb 13 - 11
Friday the 13th has finally arrived. Yet, the girls have science on their minds. This session, another of one of Project Exploration’s STEM facilitators, Ms. Bori Kim, came to join our program. The girls had so much fun with her! She brought two small activities for the girls to enjoy. The first activity was based on the girls’ values. She brought in several tiny pieces of papers with different values on them. The girls were to go to Feb 13 - 5each table around the room and choose six values that were important to them. They were then to write down the values in their journals and put why they were important to them. It was great to see the girls express themselves freely about what they valued. It was amazing to watch them all be happy with the ones that they chose.
Then we followed the activity with an experiment: the floating paper clip. The supplies needed for the experiment were: a bowl with water, a paper clip, and tissue paper. The girls placed the paper clip in the water and watched it sink. Then they placed the tissue paper on the water and gently placed the paper clip on the tissue paper. The girls were in shock as they saw the paper clips floating! It was so cool!
For a little brain break, Ms. Bori had thegirls do some diaphragmatic breathing. Feb 13 - 7It helped clear their minds and help them relax a little bit. The second experiment was the ‘Lava Lamps’. Last time we did the lava lamp in a cup with salt. This time the girls used: empty water bottles, water, food coloring, oil, and alka seltzer tablets. I wanted the girls to see different reactions from the salt and the alka seltzer. It was fun to see how they thought the water bottle lava lamps were much cooler.
Overall, we had an amazing session. The girls are looking forward to having a scientist next week. Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

Don’t Touch the Lava!

Written by our STEM Facilitator, Nedum Aniemeka:
Feb 10 - 4 On February 10th, 2015 at Ariel Community Academy’s Sisters4Science session, we had a guest scientist from our very own staff come and work with the girls! Ms. Bori Kim, who’s currently studying to become a science teacher at North Park University, came in and did a really fun activity with the girls about lava! First, Bori asked the girls what they already knew about lava and the girls all knew that it’s the hot substance that comes out of a volcano when it erupts. Kiara even told us that cooled lava can turn into rocks. Furthermore, Alanah told us about the types of volcanoes that exist in the world – either dormant or active!
To do the activity, the girls combined cooking oil, water, and food color to make cups of lava. Then they added salt to their cups to simulate what it looks like when lava bursts from a volcano. The activity was super fun and the girls even took videos of their cups so they could playback what it looked like when the lava “exploded.”
After the experiment, we did a breathing exercise to get the girls up and moving! Bori introduced the girls to the idea of breathing from the diaphragm, which is a Feb 10 - 3technique that’s used when meditating. Nyssa said “breathing like that made her feel really calm” and she would make sure to use that technique next time she feels herself getting angry. Sounds like a good idea, Nyssa!
Finally, the girls closed off the day talking about the things in their life that they hold most valuable. All of the girls had amazing things to say about their friends, family, and school! Antimia also said that she valued her style. We’ve got a resident diva on our hands! Until next time!

Biostatistics at Funston!

Written by our STEM Facilitator, Eugenia Ruiz:
On the chilly Friday of February 6th, the Sisters4Science girls at Funston Elementary started off their day with a fun ice breaker! We did ‘The Name Game’ with a small twist: done with verbs!  All the girls had to re-introduce yourself and add a verb of what they like to do.  Many of the girls shared that they liked to text and/or go out with their friends. It was interesting to see what many of the girls liked to do in their free time!  The girls then did the name game in a different version because there were many new students that recently became a part of our program.  We loving have newcomers!
Feb 6 - 1Our scientist for today was Dr. Irene Helenowski who works as a researcher at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. She helps researchers with statistical data for the designs of study and analysis. Today, she brought the girls flashcards with different numbers. The girls were put into two groups: A and B.  The goal was to have the girls figure out the means and median of the data. Then, Dr. Helenowski helped the girls with something called standard deviation, something very new for the Funston students! She helped the girls find out the standard deviation between the two data.
The girls loved doing a little bit of math and learning how it can be used in the science world. They were very interested to learn how Dr. Helenowski uses math to help the science field. They were even amazed that she works at the Northwestern University! A great day with the girls leaving happy and a little bit more comfortable knowing that math and science can go well together.

I Heard It Through the Grapevine – Plants Talk!

Written by our STEM Facilitator, Nedum Aniemeka:
Feb 3 - 2  Today, February 3rd, at Sisters4Science the girls at Ariel Community Academy had the opportunity to do some cool experiments with plants! Our scientist for the day, Madlen Wilmes, a grad student at the University of Chicago, told the girls that plants have ways of guarding against unwanted attacks by sending signals to other trees. To get an idea of the types of experiments Madlen and her lab mates do at work, the girls were given syringes full of water to inject into the plants leaves. Madlen told the girls that normally the syringes would be filled with some type of bacteria to see how the plants would respond to the attack. The girls got right down to work and had a blast being able to use the lab coats and goggles that Madlen brought along with her. Kiara said that she was glad that Feb 3 - 1Madlen brought all of the materials she did because she got a real sense of what it was like to work in a lab.  Madlen even said that the girls had a better grasp on using the tools than a lot of the scientists in her lab do.  The girls are all already showing characteristics of skilled scientists!  They are so impressive!
To get a bit of a break from sitting, the girls did a round of Bring Back My Bonny.  Alanah stood in the middle of the circle and sang the song “Bring back my bonny” and the girls had to either sit down or stand up at each word that started with a B.  The girls looked silly moving non-stop and got tired out after the 2nd time the song was sung.  I think that was their workout for the day! What better way to end the school day than with some Feb 3 - 3science and some squats?  Can’t wait until next time!

Groovy, Oozy, Lava Lamps!

Jan 30 - 1 Another chilly day on January 30th and another beautiful session day with the Sisters4Science girls at Frederick Funston Elementary School. To start off this wonderful day, we did a brand new ice breaker called React and Act. With this game, each girls picks an event or instance that they have to act out. It can be from reacting to a having a stomach ache after eating a piece of cake to an exploding experiment. It was different ice breaker but the girls did the funniest reactions I have seen. It took some time to figure out what each of them were reacting to.
Then we moved on to what was planned for the day:  a TrueChild activity. TrueChild is an organization that helps children today to learn about harmful gender norms and hJan 30 - 5ow they can learn to move beyond them. This program helps give the girls the confidence to be who they want to be and the freedom to express themselves. The activity involved the girls drawing pictures or writing a paragraph about themselves. How they view themselves and how they think others view them. The second part of the activity is again drawing or writing about where they see themselves in ten years. Many girls wrote that they see themselves in school and having a significant other. After hearing many of those, we took the time and talked about how they don’t have to get married so quickly or be in a relationship. The main point that I got across is that they should all love themselves first.
Having completed a pretty serious activity for the girls, I ended the day with a small experiment. The supplies needed were: clear cups, water, Jan 30 - 4food coloring, oil, and salt.  The lava lamp was a completely new experiment forJan 30 - 6 me so I was learning alongside the girls. We filled the cups halfway with water and about 1/4 of the cup with oil. We let the two things settle before putting in the food coloring. We decided to make a rainbow lava lamp so some girls put a drop of each color. As we poured a bit of salt, the food coloring made it past the oil barrier and began looking like a lava lamp. The girls were super impressed! At the end, they started mixing the oil, water, and food coloring and the final product became a glittery water. It was great seeing the girls enjoy their experiment. It felt good knowing that after a good discussion of gender norms, they were able to relax with an entertaining experiment. Till next time!

What Does Being a Girl Mean To You?

On January 27th, the girls at Ariel Community Academy had an opportunity to talk about what it means to them to be a girl. TrueChild, which Project Exploration often works with, is an organization that focuses on the presence of gender norms in society and how these roles can affect young girls. The girls got the opportunity to talk about what they thought a gender role was. With one side of the board for boys and one side of the board for girls, the girls of Ariel went up to the board and wrote down various words and ideas that came to mind when they heard the word “girl” or “boy”. The girls had some really great thoughts, and the discussion got them thinking about how societal norms shape their everyday life. One of the new girls, Britney, mentioned that she thought the media often told girls to be submissive and underachieving, whereas boys are persuaded to be powerful and successful. Furthermore, Kiara said that boys are allowed to play sports and be rough but girls are expected to be pretty and delicate. I don’t think any of the girls are okay with that sentiment! Finally, the girls talked about how the science field is mostly dominated by males, and that’s probably because of stereotypes that say that boys are smarter than girls. Well, all I can say is I have a pretty smart group of girls on my hands :).

The physical activity of the day was Zip Zap Zop. All the girls all ready knew the game and so they were much better at it than I am. They even told me that I played with the wrong rules! I learn something new from them everyday.