Don’t Be Dense!

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Nedum Aniemeka
DSC_0120 This week at Woodson, the girls of Sisters4Science got a visit from Ms. Bori Kim, one of Project Exploration’s STEM Facilitators! Bori has done many experiments with Sisters4Science programs at other Chicago Public Schools so it was great to see her again at Woodson! For the activity of the day, Bori facilitated her super fun experiment on density! For this experiment, the girls were given corn syrup, vegetable oil, water, cashews, a candle, and milk and asked which ones they thought would sinkApril 15 - 14 furthest to the bottom. By using guess and check and what the girls knew about density, the girls were able to test which materials they thought would float in water and which ones they thought would sink. Stephanee guessed that the candle, despite being the biggest object, would float to the top because it has such a large surface area. Looks like someone’s been paying attention in geometry! The girls had fun messing with all of the materials and were even able to add food coloring to make their creations even more exciting!
To have a bit of a brain break, the girls played a round of my favorite game, Ninja! Because some the girls had never played the game before, we had a bit of a rough start. DSC_0109However, they quickly got the hang of it and soon enough girls were jerking and karate chopping all over the place. In the end, Rachel became one of our Ninja champions for the day. That’s basically as good as a black belt!

Getting ready to WOW! at Carter!

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator Kiara Byrd

April 14 - 4 Today the girls had the chance to take today by storm. Today was the day to practice how to be their own scientists with their own projects. I gave the girls a list of experiments and they made their decisions and came up with 3 different experiments. The experiments were creating your own lip balm, making your own candy, and elephant toothpaste. The girls were put in their separate groups and with the assistance of Ms. Wyland and myself, the girls were in charge of their own products.

In each group the girls were given the materials and steps in order to make their own experiments work. They had to work together and also practice patience because unlike the other experiments, the results would take a little bit more time. With three different groups, I noticed the different strategies that we’re going on to make sure things went smoothly.
April 14 - 3 In the elephant toothpaste group, we had Somayyah and Jamelya. They want to test the experiment the regular way and then try a different way to see if they would get the same reaction at the end. I explained to them that that is how things are discovered. Curiosity and trials are what you need in order to possibly make a life changing discovery. I was impressed for they came up with altering the recipe, or changing the method a little bit to really understand the science behind their experiment.
Another group was creating your own lip balm. In this group, they were given a lot of materials, so this required the girls to be a little more precise in the amount of each item they mixed together in order for the lip balm to work. They were able to be creative in their own choice of flavor for the lip balm and the girls had the chance to make 2 flavors each. They were heating things up, mixing ingredients, and at the end I know they were very proud of themselves to know it is possible to make something at home that a lot of us girls use, in order to save money.April 14 - 2
Our third group was making their own candy. We all know we enjoy a sweet every once in a while so in this group the girls were learning patience.  With making edible things, it takes a little more longer so things can form from something else. The girls were reading the steps off for each other and picking selective roles amongst the group in order for everyone to have a successful product. They were also being careful not to make a mess and cleaned up after themselves. With the rock candy, they also were heating things up and refrigerate their product, in order for the candy to form. They were excited to see the results.
All the girls really displayed their confidence today because there is nothing like being proud of something you made on your own! They are truly inquisitive scientists in the making!

Can Girls Be Funny and Smart?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator Nedum Aniemeka
This week at Ariel the girls had another TrueChild lesson on a very important topic regarding the choices girls are forced to make between popularity and studies. Often, adolescent girls are told that being interested in school is nerdy or not cool, while on the other hand popular girls are expected to only care about their looks. To discuss this problem, the girls drew a picture of an imaginary girl on the board and were asked to think of things that people would say about the girl. On one side the girls wrote things that people would say if the girl were popular/pretty and on the other side the girls wrote things that people would say if the girl were nerdy/studious.
April 14 - 3The girls all agreed that the girl who was considered nerdy would not be as liked by boys as the popular girl. Shania said that boys may only want to talk to her if they are trying to get answers from her. When I asked the girls what they would say about the imaginary girl, they said they would think she was smart and hardworking but a little boring. For the popular girl, the Ariel girls thought that boys would say she was pretty and would want to date her. The Ariel girls said they would probably want to be friends with her.
The girls were then asked to think about what each imaginary girl thought about herself. Kiara noted that the nerdy girl would probably be sad because she didn’t have many friends and realized people only used her for homework. On the other hand, Alana said that the popular girl would think people didn’t want to get to know her past her looks.
So how do stereotypes affect girls’ desires to engage in science? According to Antoinette, if people always project ideas of what they think girls should be onto other girls, it will make girls only want to do things that make people like them. Because of that, a lot of girls may feel pressured to not come off as too smart or else people will think she’s weird or nerdy. But do the girls of Ariel buy that? No! We all want to make sure that girls feel comfortable exploring any interests they may have regardless of what people will say about them. Sounds like a good mission for Sisters4Science!

Erosion + Dirt, Rocks, and Mulch = Fun and Learning!

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Nedum Aniemeka

April 2 - 11 Let’s be one with nature. It is important for us as people to understand nature and try to understand what happens when things change and how we fix problems that may come about.  Today our special guest was Ms. Natalie Mills, a civil engineering for the US Army Corps of Engineers, and she wanted the girls to get dirty today. She wanted the girls to further understand flooding and the efforts that are made to prevent it. She wanted to explain how different flooding can be with different minerals. The process she chose to emphasize was erosion. She showed the different types of flooding that can occur with slopes, which is more April 2 - 1capable of minerals to be carried away. The girls were first asked what they knew about flooding and was given pictures of bad flooding so they can see how severe things can get.

After a short lesson the girls were on their way to get their hands dirty. They were put in 3 groups where they had soil, mulch, and dirt. The first group had dirt and with extra rocks in the mixture, when the girls viewed what happens when it is sloped some minerals were carried away but stayed on top. Our next group had mulch. In this group they learned about absorption and April 2 - 8how mulch actually helps with decreasing the chance of flooding. Stephanee had noticed this and explained that she doesn’t think that there is erosion because the water that was added just sank to the bottom. Last but not least, we had soil with our third group. When the girls added water to this, they noticed there wasn’t anything absorbing the water and it mainly stayed above the soil, allowing more flooding. The girls also got a chance to see how soil softened and how when sloped, more soil is carried with the water as well.
It was important for the girls to really get in touch with Mother Nature and have a better perspective in how natural disasters can happen and possibly getting into a career in helping others being victims in these tragedies. It was the last day of April 2 - 5school for them, before Spring Break, and the girls explained they enjoyed themselves and will miss the program. One of the girls, Rachel, even told me that I remind her of her older sister, someone she can look up to. It was wonderful to learn this before the break and for the girls to appreciate the sessions we bring to them more and more! Cannot wait to continue our amazing Sisters4Science program after Spring Break!

What Do Cells Really Look Like?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Kiara Byrd

March 31 - 4 Have you ever wondered what your cells looked like? What makes all of us different?? At Carter today, the girls had the chance to meet Dr. Ana Shulla. She studies Microbology at the University of Chicago and started our day with interesting questions. She wanted to know how much the girls already knew about cells. The girls first expressed to Dr. Shulla what they already knew about cells and later learned the differences in the many different cells. “Today we are going to see our own cheek cells and see the bacteria that’s in yogurt.” Said Dr. Schulla “I thought bacteria is bad, so why would they put in yogurt.” Somayyah was a little confused but after we explained there’s good and bad bacteria, she was more curious in learning more.

So today the girls would learn how it is to work in a lab. They would all get a chance to lookMarch 31 - 2 under a microscope that will allow them to look at each other’s cells and even take them home!! The girls were really excited and was looking forward to see what the cells looked like. With Dr. Shulla’s help the girls all had their own cotton swab and swabbed the inside of their mouth, along the cheek area. Keshaia made sure she swabbed really well in order to get as much cells as possible. In a straight line, the girls took the next necessary steps in spreading the used swabs on their own slide and secure it with a March 31 - 1plastic cover and using blue methylene.
The cells that were able to be seen first were Darnasha. When she saw her cells she thought it was cool and gross at the same time! Other girls agreed as well when they looked at their own cells. Jamelya was one of the first who said “I want to put on the gloves so I’m a real scientist” Somayyah also added that she wants to be as professional as possible. After all the girls viewed their cells it was time to look at yogurt. Through the microscope, they had the chance to see all the bacteria from a small scoop of yogurt. Skye was so surprised and was the lucky girl to take that slide home for herself. The girls really enjoyed themselves and will never look at yogurt the same again lol.

Rocket Power!

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Nedum Aniemeka
March 31 - 2At this week for Sisters4Science, the Ariel girls go to do some chemistry and make lunch bag rockets! By using vinegar, baking soda, water, and tissue, the girls were able to create a reaction that turned into an explosion in a Ziplock bag! With the help of Christiana and Brianna, all of the girls were given vinegar and water to mix in a Ziplock bag. Once that was mixed, Bailey gave all of the girls a small amount of baking soda into a tissue. The girls then had to quickly drop the tissue into the bag and close it to watch it expand! The reaction took no more than 10 seconds, and soon enough all of the girls were running away from their exploding rockets! When I asked the girls what they thought was happening inside of the bags, Ja’Nyha told everyone that the baking soda and vinegar were reacting together and all of the carbonation from the reaction was making the bag expand. Looks like Ja’Nyha knows her chemistry! It was very impressive!
Because the experiment was so messy, the girls got to go outside to make their lunch bag rockets. After they were done, they got some more physical activity in and played a round of ‘Red Rover’ on the playground! All in all it was an exciting day of science and fun at Ariel

Save the Bananas!

Friday, March 27th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Eugenia Ruiz
March 27 - 4  Code blue, code blue! Calling all doctors! On thisexciting day at Funston Elementary School, the girls in the Sisters4Science program were about to get a special treat! Our scientist for today is Dr. Florence Mussat. She is a plastic surgeon who has her own practice. She went to medical school in France and did her surgical training in New York.
Today, she brought scrubs for all of the girls to wear! Each girl had her own mask and scrubs, and little foot protectors for their shoes. It was fantastic to see all the girls get really excited for the scrubs. Many had never had the chance to actually wear the scrubs but only see them on doctors.
For the activities today, the girls had two choices: learn how to lie knots OR suture a banana back to health! All of the girls took turn doing each activity since we had enough time for both. Dr. Mussat paired the girls up and they each had a banana that had its peeled cut and “blood” (Hersey’s strawberry syrup) was coming out of it. The girls loved it March 27 - 6soooooo much! They used all the of the medical instruments to suture up the banana! At first, the girls were a little impatient as to how they were supposed to suture the banana. Victoria was one of the girls that had a hard time at first working with the needle and instruments. Once she got the hang of things, she began feeling more comfortable with the instruments. Lizvette and Lizette were beyond excited to be working on the banana. They continuously asked for help from Dr. Mussat so that they could get the suture perfect! It was so good to see the girls focus on a task that actual doctors do when treating people.
Afterwards, Dr. Mussat went over some general medical tips to give to the girls. She taught them from what is a heart attack to what to do if someone was lying on the floor unconscious. She even quizzed them on what a hemorrage is and what is pathology. The girls and I cannot wait for Dr. Mussat to come back and bring all her wonderful knowledge with her! Till then!
March 27 - 1

Building and Skyscrapers Popping Up at Woodson!

Thursday, March 26, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Kiara Byrd

March 26 - 11The girls had previously learned about floods and now they were going to learn about buildings and more structures. Our guest scientist Christina Sedighi, a civil engineer who works for the US Army Corps of Engineers, really wanted the girls to learn key words to use when it comes to buildings and the materials need to be used. She had the best pre activity for the girls too! The words were tension and compression. First she demonstrated with a piece of string how tension means strong and how compression means weak or loose. By pulling the string from opposite ends, tightened it and made tension. Compression is the opposite and showed by using a marshmallow that when there isn’t any force on the marshmallow, it is loose and easy to pull apart. Now it was the girls turn to be force!! She had the girls stand up and partner up. They were to hold each other’s hands and pull to understand tension and then for them to lean against each other’s backs to understand compression. The girls enjoyed it a lot. After they were being force they had a challenge. Christina had the girls have a competition with each other, in March 26 - 10three groups the girls had to build the tallest tower they could in a limited amount of time. The winning group would win a prize. The trick is, they have to build the tower from marshmallows and spaghetti.

The game was on and it was very interesting because not one tower was the same. Each group had their own strategy on the kind of foundation they wanted for their tower. Each tower had their own design, whether it looked familiar or a little abstract. I was proud of the hard work and creativity they put into this engineering activity. Semajah was really into this activity and wanted the foundation to work. In her group she was really giving her ideas and making sure her group was focused. I really admired Stephanee as well. In her group, she was focused and really worked hard in her group. At the end of the session we had a winner!!! At 1 ft and 10 inches, the tower of Stephanees group was the tallest!!! In that group, there was Stephanee, Jailan, Rachel, and Parriona. The prize was chocolate and March 26 - 8they were very happy about it. I know the girls really liked this activity and Christina was definitely a great scientist that engaged with the girls and helped them get a better picture on how it is to work for construction. It’s about focus, creativity, and let’s not forget trial and error!

Tornadoes in the Classroom!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Kiara Byrd

March 24 - 3Let’s build today!!! I gave the girls the opportunity to really work as a team, and by listening to every step, build their own tornado!! We had 4 bottles so there were 4 different tornadoes ready to be made. The girls started to cut the remaining paper from the 2 liter bottles to make confetti. It really helped the tornadoes looked more colorful. Nakaylah of course was my helper with helping all of the groups with proper materials. She helped with filling the container with water and even thought of a better way to transport the water into the bottles without spilling. The first group was Semayyah, Danaisha, Dekira, and Ajah. They wanted to be the first group to finish so the other groups can follow, lead by example if you will. Danaisha, another helper of mine today, wanted to help the other groups with their tornadoes and helped everyone secure their bottles.

Skye was one of the first to express how cool the experiment was!  She was very determined to make sure her tornado was just right. I really admired Semayyah today because I could see she March 24 - 2really felt like a scientist. She couldn’t put the tornado bottle down for one second “I’m definitely taking this home so I can show my mom.” Semayyah was having a really great time building.
The other groups did an awesome job building their tornadoes as well! Keishaia asked for some assistance with her tornado and finally she made it work. In our sessions, I want the girls to touch different areas in science. We have touched chemistry, psychology with our collages with using association,and today we are engineers. The girls had a chance to put their minds to the test and be proud of themselves building something all on their own.

Let It Glow!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Nedum Aniemeka
March 24 - 4  This past Tuesday at Ariel, the girls of Sisters4Science learned about luminescence! Dr. Rosemary Bastian is a post-doctoral student at Northwestern University and she came to do a demonstration of luminescence using glow sticks. To start off the lesson, Rosemary told the girls about the different kinds of luminescence present in every day life. Animals like jellyfish depend on bioluminescence to produce the glowing look that they have. When Dr. Bastian asked the girls why they thought certain animals had bioluminescence, Alana saidMarch 24 - 3 that they probably used it to ward off predators! With that introduction to luminescence, the girls got to turn off the lights and get cracking with some glow sticks! To observe the effects temperature has on luminescence, the girls were asked to put their glow sticks in beakers of hot and cold water and observe the effects the temperature had on their brightness. Kiara predicted that the glow sticks in hot water would glow brighter than the glow sticks in cold water, and she was right!
March 24 - 5To finish off this lesson on luminescence, the girls worked with some glow-in-the-dark paint to decorate ornaments! The girls were each given an ornament to decorate with paint and bring it home. Who says you can’t mix art and science?
At the end of session, the girls were asked to complete a “I used to think but now I know” for their journals that day. One of our newer girls, Anise, said that she used to think that illuminescence was just something that made jelly fish look cool, but now she knows that their glowing serves an actual purpose of protecting themselves from predators! We learn something new every day.