How Many Girls Does it Take to Make a Lightbulb?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator Nedum Aniemeka
March 3 - 3This week at Ariel, Veronica and Edyta from the Women in Science and Engineering Program at University of Illinois at Chicago,  taught the girls about engineering! Edyta taught the girls about the different types of engineering careers that they could pursue, which lined up perfectly with the field trip they just attended at Northwestern! To do this, the girls played a game of ‘Match’ with the definitions of different engineering categories with the appropriate title. The girls loved it and Shaleshia found out that civil engineering and architecture are very similar! We might have an prospective architect on our hands!
March 3 - 4
March 3 - 5As their experiment, the girls got a chance to build their own lightbulbs! Using a circuit and a couple of wires that they stuck into clay, the girls were asked to attach the wires to the circuit and see what happened. A lot of the girls did an experiment similar to this last Saturday at the Northwestern Career Day for Girls, so they were excited to be able to apply what they learned on their field trip to today’s experiment. Martinisha said that she thought this experiment was much safer, because the wires burned in the lightbulb for the Northwestern experiment. Talk about electric feelings!
To get their blood pumping, the girls did a physical activity – chair aerobics! Using their chair as balances, the girls stood up and did various stretches and movements with their hands on the backs of their chairs. Antoinette said she felt her legs getting stronger with every stretch. The girls really love coming to Sisters4Science to build their minds AND bodies!

Is it Possible to Melt Styrofoam?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 – written by Kiara Byrd, STEM Facilitator

March 3 - 10Today was the second day at Carter! I wanted to start with an ice breaker where we could understand the difference between abiotic and biotic factors. Jamelya was the first person to raise her hand, “an abiotic factor is a living thing and a biotic factor is a non living thing.” She did a great job and after we explained to flip the definitions, she was definitely on the right track. After that Ms Wyland, my teacher fellow, and I gave them certain things to identify and tell us t if they were a biotic factor and an abiotic factor. The girls really got the hang of it quickly which helped their brains get prepared for our next activity.

Let’s find out about pH levels!!!! We had our handouts and I went around the room and asked what did March 3 - 5they have to drink today. “I had Apple juice” said Markeisha. “I had milk” said Monique and Semaya told me she had water. After explaining to the girls what pH actually meant dealing with liquids the girls pinpointed where their drink fell on the pH scale. They have found that the juices and milk they drank was considered acids and water is considered a base. With knowing this, we applied this to our experiment for the day, what happens when styrofoam combines with an acid. We also used the scientific method and wrote down the appropriate information. The girls were really engaged as we went through each step of the scientific method and I even had my number one helper for the day. Nakayla really stepped it up today and helped me with passing out materials and helping the other girls with the experiment.

March 3 - 4I demonstrated the difference of when a styrofoam cup comes in contact with water and then what happens when it comes in contact with pure acetone. When I did the first demonstrated they were amazed at what they saw. All you could hear was oooohs and aahhhs. They all ran up to get their chance to dissolve their own styrofoam cup. The girls even took it a step further for me. Caused by curiosity, they took the remainder plastic material to feel its purity and also what happens to it if left out or having a base like soap water added to it. We know that science is all about curiosity and scientists only made huge discoveries because they were curious. They really put that trait to the test!!!! They learned that the disolving of the cup was because of the air being released from the cup because of the acetone.. Gentrice, who was a little quiet today, was even intrigued by our experiment today and asked to take the remains of the cup home. I am pretty sure Sisters 4 Science really helped her feel comfortable as time went on. It was a successful day at Carter and the girls learned a lot.

Statistics with Candy!

February 27th, 2015 – written by Eugenia Ruiz, STEM Facilitator
Feb 27 - 1When will Chicago get their first warm day?! Meanwhile, the Sisters4Science class at Funston Elementary is doing the best they can at being patient until it is warm enough to go outside!
In today’s session, Dr. Irene Helenowski from Northwestern University was our scientist of the day. It was fantastic having her come back to the program and see the girls again! They were looking forward to seeing her and taking part in the activities she brought for them!! Today, she brought some treats for the girls as a part of the lesson. There were two bags; in each of those bagsFeb 27 - 7 were two different types of candies. Twix and Snickers in the blue bag and 3 Musketeers and Milky Way in the pink bag. The girls were to randomly pick one candy out of each bag. The girls created a chart on the board that tallied up which combination they had. Dr. Helenowski then calculated Fisher’s Exact Test on her computer to see if the combinations were all the same. It was noted that a p-value less (not greater) than 0.05 would indicate that the combinations were not equal. Dr. Helenowski explained to the girls that this was similar to her job.  If you were to replace the Twix and Snickers with boys and girls, and the 3 Musketeers and Milky Way with two different kinds of medicine, it would help with the data of which medicine worked best for either the boys or girls. Feb 27 - 6The girls were fascinated with that! They did not know that math had a lot to do with science and it amazed them of that fact. Who new a little chocolate would get them interested in statistics?!
The girls enjoyed their session with Dr. Helenowski and were fascinated by what she does for the medical community. We are lucky to have her visit and look forward to keeping in touch with her in the future!

Welcome back Woodson North!

Feb 26 - 5 We are back Woodson!!!! Today was a wonderful day at Woodson. I managed to see a few returning girls and a few new ones. The returning girls especially Doniya and Tahnya, gave me the biggest hug and were so excited to see me. Doniya even told me “I am going to be in Sisters4Science forever!!! Every time you guys come back I will be there.” It was also very sweet to hear Tahnya say after she found out I facilitated at another school she says “What? You have other girls? No you are only supposed to be here with us.” I really appreciated the girls feeling comfortable in our program where they truly feel they associate it with their happiness. Because it was the first day we started with the two truths and a lie ice breaker. We also had a special guest Jacki come in and help with taking our Pre-surveys. After the paperwork, I wanted my Woodson girls to get down and dirty!!! I wanted to also do something different so everyone can be surprised if the activity. Today they learned how to make slime!!! There is one girl named Alana and she was very curious in what we were going to be doing. She automatically wanted to Feb 26 - 6help me with passing things out. Semajah, a returning girl, also wanted to help me pass out the supplies. I explained to the girls I wanted them to do the activity themselves while I gave direction so they can really build their confidence. They all seemed a little skeptical in getting their hands dirty so I also supplied spoons for the mixing part. The girls really got excited when everything was coming together and the slime became amazingly sticky. Alana even helped me assist the other girls who wanted their slime to be more like hers. I really liked to see Alana stepped out of her comfort zone and helping the other girls, for she really didn’t know a lot of the girls in the beginning. I loved seeing that. An 8th grader, Rachel, even was being more open with me in how she was actually having fun with this activity. Of course it was not long until the girls wanted a round 2 in making slime. I saw that in round 2 materials were dwindling and a 5th grader Asia explained to me that it was hard to make her second slime. So by working together, she successfully made her second bag of slime and I Feb 26 - 1could see the biggest smile on her face. Sisters4Science is really for these girls to be better as leaders and also for us as the facilitators to make sure every girl has a memorable experience and that they enjoy it!! This was a huge successful first day and the girls will really be opened up to new things sooner than they think!!

Welcome to Carter Elementary!

Feb 24 - 1Well hello Carter!! Today was our first day of Sisters4Science at our new school and it was great to see how many girls wanted to learn more about science and also each other. What better way to get to know each other by doing an Ice breaker. They had 2 choices with playing the game hot seat or playing two truths and a lie. They wanted to do something different so they chose two truths and a lie. It was interesting to see what the girls knew about each other already and what was a shock for them. When it was my turn a 6th grader, Gentrice, was really surprised that me working at Disney World a few years ago was not a lie and wanted to know more. After our ice breaker, I wanted to know what the girls knew about science. I have gotten a few responses saying experiments, explosions, scientific method, and also a nice input from Semaya, mentioning the periodic table. I introduced to the girls that science is all about being creative and also working together as s team to get them prepared for our activity. Building your own utopia.

Feb 24 - 6I separated the girls into two groups and turned off all the lights. I told them to close their eyes and to use their imagination. I explained it was a huge explosion that killed most of the population. They had a rocket ship and there were 30 people from a list I pulled up for them. The girls next task was to pick the best 10 people and with those people they are to build their own society. They even could name the new planet whatever they wanted! The girls had fifteen minutes to prepare and then they would present their utopia to the class. Between the two groups, I saw great team work. I saw girls taking certain roles in the group and also everybody giving their opinion on how their utopia should be. I heard Semaya even say some logical things in why they chose certain people on their rocket. I also saw that she picked certain people because of their age for reproduction purposes too. “We chose the 27 and 30 year old so they can help with the next generation. We have the 15 year old who is pregnant but she is too young to have babies and we don’t want her to have Feb 24 - 4any with the grown men because that’s wrong. To know that they knew about morals and wanted to bring that to their planet was definitely something I liked to see. With naming the planets, I saw the groups trying to incorporate everyone instead of leaving anyone out. I observed Asia working with her group to come up with a name that included all of their names combined. I even heard Dekira say “let’s name our planet the awesome survivors”. That definitely showed confidence!! At the end of the session, each group presented to the class their utopia and why they chose their specific 10. The reasons were very important for they based it on how they would survive first and added a little of making an income and having entertainment. But both groups really understood the concept overall. After the activity we wrote in our journals and they even gave me ideas on what kind of activities they wanted to do in our sessions. They told me that they did have fun so that is a good start. There is more to come!!!

Survival of the Fittest

What does it mean to evolve? How did humans develop the traits we have to survive today? This week at Ariel the girls of Sisters4Science learned the answers to these questions and more when Joyce Pieretti came to teach us about evolution! Joyce came to Ariel in the fall with a great experiment about DNA, so Feb 24 - 2the girls were excited to have her back. To start off the lesson, Joyce asked all the girls to tell her what they thought evolution was. Brianna told us that evolution is what happened to cavemen millions of years ago as they turned into humans. Ja’Nyha added to that by reminding everyone that our ancestors are monkeys! With those thoughts in mind, Joyce explained tht evolution is the process of keeping traits that can help you survive and getting rid of ones that act as a disadvantage. To help show this concept, the girls did an activity where they each had a tool to hunt with – either a fork or a spoon. Using only their tools, the girls had to “eat” as many pom poms as possible in 15 seconds. At the end of the activity the girls realized that people with spoons picked up more pom poms than people with forks! Kiara realized that this meant people with spoons would survive in nature and people with forks would not. That’s how evolution works!
Feb 24 - 5After their activity, the girls got down to journaling. The question of the day was whether anyone thought humans were still evolving. Antimia said “humans are still evolving because we’re learning new things every day that help us to be more efficient for survival.” One of the new girls, Allana, said that she didn’t think humans could evolve anymore because even though we’re getting smarter, our bodies can’t change anymore. I guess we’ll see who’s write in a couple hundred years!

Rock Crystals to the Moon and Back!

Good day to you all! On such a windy day in the Windy City on February 20th, the Sisters4Science girls at Funston Elementary were in for a special treat. The session started off with a little active ice breaker. I had the girls play the game, Heads Up!, the app that Ellen DeGeneres created. They had to act out different scenarios and the person with the phone on their forehead had to do guess what was being acted out. It was hilarious watching the girls try and act out things such as “flipping pancakes” and “putting on a bandaid”.
Feb 20 - 8Today’s scientist was none other than the amazing Dr. Sarah Guadiana from the University of Chicago. Unfortunately, this would be the last time that Dr. Guadiana would be with us as she follows her exciting career path to Georgia! We are so excited for her, and sad to lose her all Feb 20 - 4at the same time! For today’s session she brought along the experiment for making rock crystal candy with the girls. The materials were: water, hot plates, beakers, skewers, sugar, and cups. The girls, with the help of Dr. Guadiana and myself, filled the beakers with water and placed them on the hot plates to bring them to a boil. Meanwhile, Dr. Guadiana showed the girls different forms of crystals in a PowerPoint presentation. Finally having the water boiled, the girls were to put 4 cups of sugar in the boiling water and mix it in so the sugar dissolves. One beaker had double the sugar concentration, which means 8 cups of sugar.  While mixing in sugar, they were saying that it smelled like candy already, and some even mentioned that it smelled like syrup!  The girls were then to use the skewer and stir it in the sugar concentrated water. They were then moved to another table where they had to mix the wet skewer with sugar. They left the skewer to dry for several minutes. Meanwhile, the girls filled their glass cups with Feb 20 - 3 Feb 20 - 2some of the sugar concentrated water and flavoring.  Dr. Guadiana brought concentrated flavored syrups for the girls to use, with flavors ranging from peppermint to raspberry.  The room instantly smelled fruity and minty when they added it to their experiment.  They then put the skewer sticks in the water and put them off to the side. The girls were to check on it the following week to see if any crystals had formed in the solution, which then the girls could eat.
It was such a pleasure having Dr. Guadiana a part of the Sisters4Science family. The girls have enjoyed every single moment they have had with her. We send out the best wishes to Dr. Guadiana on her career path. We are extremely happy and appreciative for all the good she has done with the program! Until next time!