On Thursday, December 3rd, I wanted the girls to get more acquainted because Nina has brought a fresh face to Sisters4Science today. Her name is Demaya and she is 12 years old, she enjoys learning science and math and was curious in what we would be learning today. I explained the program to her and also played a little game before we got started. We all went around and asked exactly what they already knew about biology. And also what are something’s that you have seen that makes biology unique or “weird” as they would say. Mahina had explained “I saw when people are born with a lot of hair on their face and also saw a show where there’s a guy who has green skin and it cracked; like he wasn’t moisturizered or anything it was gross.” Demaya had said “I know that we are all made of cells. Our cells are what makes us who we are.” After seeing where the girls stood when it came to biology, I introduced them to our two guest scientists today.
Our guest scientists were Kristen Witte and Jennifer La, who were graduate students at the University of Chicago. They both have received their undergraduate degrees in biology. They spoke to the girls more about how cells work and how they can think about DNA. DNA is all the same it just makes different things like a cookbook. Jennifer had a great idea in how to explain that our different body parts have the same DNA but the “cookbook” has different chapters with recipes on how to make your skin, your fingernail, your arm, and other parts of your body. She also asked the girls what would happen if the recipe had changed, if something else was added or taken away. Mahina raised her hand said that they would be a deformity and she was absolutely right.
For this session, since the topic of DNA started the day, our activity was DNA extraction of bananas and strawberries. Nina was a little familiar with the activity for with her teacher, they extracted their own DNA using salt water to swish in their mouths but never with fruit. Kristen and Jennifer took the girls step by step and they were being very patient, which is the main key in being a scientist, PATIENCE PATIENCE PATIENCE. The girls had their own test tube so when they were done they could take it home and show their families. Demaya was very attentive and had a lot of questions on the materials and how she would be able to show her family she can perform this experiment herself. The results of the experiment blew the girl’s mind. They were able to take the DNA out but some were scared in touching it, since it was slimy. Mahina was a little bolder, “I don’t care I’m going to touch this, this is cool.” At the end of session, the girls had a really nice time in learning science and expressed how they were glad that Kristen and Jennifer came. They were able to meet women who were still in school and who also can still perform experiments like professionals can!