Reflections of Knowledge at the Anti-Cruelty Society!

On Friday, May 29th, roughly 30 Sisters4Science from Ariel, Funston, Woodson, and Carter gathered at

ROKthe Anti-Cruelty Society downtown to share some of their favorite hands-on activities from the spring semester, and celebrate a year of hard work and dedication.

Greeted by Precious, the Anti-Cruelty Society’s Ambassador Dog, the girls filled the room with excitement, fueling up on pizza and getting their activities ready to share with the entire group. Natasha Smith-Walker kicked off the program, thanking the girls for all of their hard work, and welcoming the parents and scientists who were there to support them.

Small groups from each of the four schools gave short presentations of their favorite activities, showing how they work and explaining the scientific principles behind them. Crowd favorites included “banana sutures” from the Funston girls (supported by surgeon and frequent S4S guest Dr. Florence Mussat), explanations of luminescence and density from Ariel, lessons on making elephant toothpaste from Carter, and tornados in a bottle from Woodson.

Elephant toothpaste 2

To end the program, the dynamic STEM facilitators presented each of the girls they’ve been working with all semester with a certificate to acknowledge their dedication and growth.

Thanks to parents, scientists, and friends who came to support the Sisters, including the Motorola Mobility ladies from the recent Spring Science Camp. The knowledge, humor, and teamwork of these wonderful girls have made this a great year for S4S, and we hope to see them all back in the Fall.

Dr. Mussat and the Funston crew

S4S is made possible with support from the Chicago Foundation for Women, Department of Family and Support Services, Siragusa Foundation, and the REAM Foundation. Essential partners include Logan Square Neighborhood Association and Citizen Schools. Facilitators chilling

NSW laughing 3Banana suture 1

ED Natasha Smith-Walker with the Motorola Mobility ladies

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Final Ariel Meeting!

May 26th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Nedum Aniemeka

May 19 - 5 With the end of the season Reflection of Knowledge just a couple of days away, the girls are hard at work finishing their presentations for the special event! Today, the girls had some time to add more detail to their presentations and were able to practice their projects. Most of the girls have experience talking in front of people but they wanted to make sure they were comfortable enough with the material that they could present it clearly to the audience. What a great idea!
To start off the day we did a quick physical activity. The girls wanted to do something that would give them a quick energy burst, so we decided to do a quick game of Shake It Out! Shake It Out is basically a way for you to shake out any stress and tightness you may have in your body. To start, you shake one arm 10 times by counting down from 10, then you shake the other arm, then your legs in the same fashion. You continue shaking each limb and count down each time until you’re eventually left with no shakesMay 19 - 3! The girls loved it and were ready to continue on their projects by the end of the activity.
After that, each of the girls worked on finishing their presentations. Antoinette was one of the first to finish, so she practiced her presentation for me. She was great! After that, Shaniya, Alanah, Antimia, and Lyric also got to practice their public speaking. The girls seemed super prepared and I can’t wait to see them present at the Reflections of knowledge event on Friday!

Girls’ Health and Science Day 2015!

STEM Facilitator-at-large Angelina Jaimes, shares her perspective on the recent Girls’ Health and Science Day, which took place May 22, 2015 in the SSA Building on the University of Chicago campus.

photo11The 15th annual Girl’s Health and Science Day was a BLAST! Nearly over 100 girls from different elementary schools (i.e. Peterson, Funston, Fiske, Woodson) presented themselves at the lovely campus of University of Chicago for a day of learning and fun. The students were part of various seminars that covered topics concerning health and wellness.

The day started off with good energy with the keynote speaker Dr. ShaVonda IMAG2840Fields providing the girls with motivational words such as “Education is Key,” “Health is very important, our body is our temple we only get one body need to take care of it,” and “Be optimistic, have good faith.” As summer is right around the corner, some beach balls were tossed into the air not letting the ball hit the floor.

Girls had the opportunity to attend five different seminars.

In “Girls Run The World,” presenter Dr. ShaVonda Fields encouraged the girls to become “vagina experts” and become comfortable with their bodies. According to facilitator Kiara Byrd, girls from Peterson Elementary School mentioned, “Dr. Fields should come to our school and teach sex education.” Pointing out how critical experiences like this are, several girls told me, “I feel comfortable here, I cannot ask questions about sex to my parents because then they will think I am having sex.”

In “The Proper Physique: RAW Experience,” presenters Olivia Gomez and Martin Hayes taught the girls about eating healthy to control menstrual cycle cramps and their digestive systems by consuming organic foods such as kale and flax seeds to make a delicious green smoothie, and to use natural resources such as apple cider vinegar and witch hazel instead of company products to control acne. Girls said the “Green smoothie is delicious,” “Where do you buy the flax seeds they taste good,” “ I am going to go buy apple cider vinegar and witch hazel for my acne instead of Proactiv.”

As part of “Girls in the Game,” the girls learned the dancing steps of the Beyoncé song “Move Your Body,” from the Let’s Move Campaign directed by the first lady Michelle Obama. Girls said “This was fun, I love dancing. I am going to apply to the Girls in the Game summer program.”

IMAG2856_1Girls were also introduced to yoga, learning yoga poses to control stress and breathing such as Pranayama, downward facing dog, cat pose, and plank pose. They learned how to meditate using music and bells such as gongs and Tibetan bowls. Girls mentioned, “Yoga is fun, so relaxing.”

Lastly, in the seminar “Digital Footprint” the girls learned how important it is to think about what they put on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat – not only because it defines who they are, but to be safe. “Think twice before you put anything in the internet because it can come and haunt you,” girls said after the seminar. “I didn’t know schools check Facebook and can take away scholarships, I will be more careful with my selfies.”

During lunch break there was a Q & A in which the girls had the chance to ask questions to nurses from the University of photo6Chicago Hospital. Some of the questions were “ How can I get longer hair?” “Could I get something by licking someone else?” “ Why is my period really heavy?” “Why do I get gray hair?” “How are babies made?” The nurses were friendly and nice, answering the girls questions honestly.

This day was not only a day of learning, but also a day of fun to mingle with girls from other schools. The day ended with the girls receiving a lovely goodie bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, chapstick, and tickets to the Brookfield Zoo. More importantly, photo13the girls left with their minds filled with knowledge about health and wellness. Everyone had an AWESOME day. We thank the presenters, facilitators, PE directors and coordinators for putting this event together. As the quote says, “Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind, and spirit.”

Almost Ready for Funston’s Demonstrations!

May 22nd, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Eugenia Ruiz
May 22 - 1 The girls at Funston Elementary were beyond ready for today’s Sisters4Science session. It was the week before Reflections of Knowledge and they already had an eventful day at Girls Health and Science Day.To start off the session, we all sat around in a circle and talked about our favorite parts of the day. Lizette Barrios said that her favorite part was the yoga session. She had never done yoga before and it was an interesting May 22 - 2experience for her. Another student, Emely Concepcion, said that her favorite part was learning about the healthy ways to eat.
For the rest of the session, the girls got to work with creating their posters. There were three presentations: Sutured Banana, Radios, and Rockets! The girls each got their supplies and split up to work on the presentations. Emely and Lizette worked on Sutured Banana they had a chance to practice with Dr. Florence Mussat. Lizvette, Victoria, and Lizbeth worked on Rockets and recreating the experiment they learned from Dr. Judy May 22 - 3Lubin the week before! Julie Astudillo, Julie Concepcion, and Niyah Simpson worked on the Radio presentation that they learned from Dr. Michelle Harris. I had the girls write their presentations on bright colored posters and they used bright paper to use as their titles. It was fantastic to see the girls enjoy working together for their presentations. They were all ready for the Reflections of Knowledge! Now to just wait for the day to come. Until then!

Rocking at the Woodson WOW!

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Kiara Byrd

May 19 - 2 The WOW Event is finally here!!! The Woodson girls were anxious but they were more than ready to show people how much fun they had being scientists. This day was big for some girls to show their parents what they were able to do on their own. There were some girls were a little more nervous. Alana came to me that she was a little nervous and said because her family usually don’t come to events to support her. I told Alana that she is an amazing girl and that I would personally take pictures of her presenting and let her have them to show her family what they missed out on. She gave me the biggest hug and thanked me. This only motivated her to be even more focused and ready while presenting. She did an AWESOME job.

At the WOW, guests were able to roam and visit the experiments of their choosing. This May 19 - 4allowed the girls to present more than once which is great practice on how it is to present to multiple crowds. With the tornado experiment, Rachel did a great job in explaining the importance of knowing how a tornado forms. Denay did a great job in presenting the purpose of the experiment and what she actually learned for herself about tornadoes. Coke and Mentos had most of the girls in this group. They learned how to take turns and to make sure to speak up so many people can hear them. I was impressed to see that Aaquila, Semajah, and Asia went the extra mile to make sure the group was doing everything they were supposed to do. A question did come up on what causes the coke to erupt out the bottle. Jailon was the one to correctly answer that carbon dioxide was involved in the eruption.  It was so impressive to see the girls using their knowledge to each others!
May 19 - 3At the end of the WOW, I let every single one of our Woodson sisters know they really came a long way and it showed today. Alana gave me another hug and really appreciated me being their for and taking pictures for her. Support is sometimes all these kids need to push them toward their success!

Prepping for Reflections of Knowledge at Ariel!

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Nedum Aniemeka

May 19 - 2Today, the girls began their prep for their Reflection of Knowledge presentations! The Reflection of Knowledge is an event that Project Exploration puts on for the girls of Sisters4Science at the end of each season. It’s meant to be a time for the girls to reflect on all of the things they’ve learned at Sisters4Science, as well as share all of their great new knowledge with friends and family. The girls were all very excited to get to show everyone what they’ve done, because they said they wanted everyone to know as much about science as they now did!

To get the creative juices flowing, the girls and I did a quick physical activity as a study break. Because they had been sitting down all day in class, I wanted to make sure they weren’t too blocked up to think of some awesome ideas for their posters! A’nise suggested that we play a round of zip zap zop because it required quick-thinking and keeping alert. The girls love that game, so it was a great way to get their creative juices flowing.
After our physical activity, the girls all had to decide which experiments they wanted to use for their presentations. Shaniya chose to do her presentation on Luminescence, Nyssa and Lyric decided to do their presentation on the surgical experiment that Dr. Mussatt showed us, and Alanah and Antimia wanted to do their presentation on the banana DNA experiment that Dr. Ana Shulla showed us! The girls were all great about remembering the details of their respective experiments and were very creative with the drawings and figures they put on their posters. Can’t wait to see their final products!

Rockets and Their Amazing-ness!

Friday, May 15th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Eugenia Ruiz

  May 15 - 5 The day has finally arrived! The girls at the Sisters4Science program at Funston Elementary have been waiting for this day for a long time! Today’s session is all about rockets. To start the day off, we began with a small ice breaker. The girls really loved mimicking each others movements and memorizing everyone else’s so we did that one again. We even included our scientist, Judy Lubin, in our ice breaker. We had so much fun and silliness! We did about three rounds just with that ice breaker.
Our scientist for today is actually a part of the board for Project Exploration. Her name is Judy Lubin. She has a Masters in Economics, yet she is also a civilian scientist. Dr. Lubin explained to the girls that a civilian scientist is May 15 - 3someone who does not have a degree in science yet has a passion for it. Dr. Lubin has a passion for science, more specifically rockets (which is amazing). She brought in a 13 foot rocket that she had built herself. She called it the “Drag Queen” and the girls loved it. Dr. Lubin and I split the rocket in half so the girls were able to see it from the inside. They touched and asked several questions about the rocket. Some questions that the girls asked were: “Where does the parachute go?” and “How much does the rocket weigh?” It was fantastic to see the girls so interested in the rocket.
She talked about how her and her son created these rockets together. She brought in several pictures and even a presentation to show the girls. She even brought a video to show how one of her rockets took off at a competition. The girls were in awe.
may 15 - 6Dr. Lubin began talking about how a rocket can actually blast off. The main ingredient was: pressure. She brought in several little rockets so the girls can work with their own. In each small bag were the rocket itself and alka seltzer tablets.  Judy and the girls went outside and they filled the rocket with 10 mL May 15 - 8of water and placed the tablet inside the rocket. Each girl took their turn to close the rockets, place it on the ground, take several steps back, and wait for it to blast off. The girls’ reactions were AMAZING. They were amazed at the reaction that water and an alka seltzer could have when combined.
Bringing the girls back in, Judy showed the girls the combustion fuel that the rocket would use. Then she asked the biggest question of the day: “How many alka seltzer tablets would it take to help the Drag May 15 - 10Queen take off?” Some of the guesses ranged from 100-1,000. The real answer? It took 2,000 tablets to even have the rocket launch. The girls laughed because it was such a large number. The day ended very well!  The girls loved Dr. Judy and all the knowledge she brought to the session. The girls left super excited and interested in knowing more about civilian scientist. I have to say, it was a great day to be a scientist!

Up, Up, and Away!

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Nedum Aniemeka

May 12 - 1 This week at Sisters4Science, the girls of Ariel got a lesson in Aviation with Ms. Karen Staten. Ms. Staten is a paralegal specialist at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and was able to tell the girls everything the FAA does when it comes to flying in the great, big, blue skies. Before Ms. Staten began her lesson, the girls all participated in another game of human knot to get in our physical activity for the day. This time, we had a ew extra girls, and even Ms. Carmichael, our Program Manager, joined in, so we had quite a bigger knot to untangle! Despite tons of twisting and squirming, the huge knot wasn’t as easy to untangle as last session’s knot, and many of the girls ended up in a heap on the ground. Regardless, it was a super fun activity and it got everyone’s blood pumping after a long day of school!
Ms. Staten began her lesson by telling the girls a little about what the FAA does. The FAA basically has the responsibility of making sure that all aircrafts flying in the country are properly tested, that pilots are licensed, and that airports are properly regulated. They also make sure planes are flying safely by controlling air traffic. Thus, the FAA is very important for aviation and without it flying wouldn’t be as safe as it currently is. The FAA even works with spaceship training with NASA!
To test everyone on their aviation knowledge, Ms. Staten asked the Ariel girls if anyone new who Amelia Earhart was. A’nise let us know that Amelia Earhart was the first female aviator to ever fly across the Atlantic Ocean by herself. Speaking of female aviators, Ms. Staten also asked the girls if anyone knew who Bessie Coleman was. Nyssa said that she had heard of her before and knew that she was a black female aviator! Not only that, but she was the first female aviator of African-American descent to May 12 - 4hold an international pilot license. Hearing about these accomplished female aviators was very important to the girls, as it showed them how back then, even when there were so many barriers for women, these ladies were able to accomplish great things in their field! Christiana said learning about them is important because it lets young girls like them know that they can do anything they put their mind to. What a great lesson from Ms. Staten!

Carter WOW Day!

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Kiara Byrd

May 14 - 1 ITS WOW TIME!!!! The girls have worked so hard these past 10 weeks and now family and friends will see what the girls have been up to. We all set up the materials at each station (Lip Balm, Elephant Toothpaste, Pop Rocks) and the girls did a run through before all the guests arrived. We had s really great turn out. We had s few parents and we also had US2020 come to see what the girls had to present. Ms. Wyland and I got everyone’s attention and the WOW Event began.

Our first group to present was Elephant Toothpaste. Somayyah and Jamelya got right down to business. They spoke clearly and even added the safety precautions with their experiment, “If you plan on doing this at home, make sure you do it outside because it can get May 14 - 3messy.” The girls did a great job with presenting the experiment and had a nice show for us. People were really interested in their topic. We even had a question from the audience. What makes the bottle warm?” Jamelya was happy to answer with, “It’s an exothermic reaction so it means things get warm.”
May 14 - 4Our second group was Lip Balm. There were a few girls in this group so they did a great job in taking turns in explaining the experiment to the audience. This experiment takes a little time, so the girls brought their own lip balm they created to show to the rest of the people. This was very helpful for people to be creative and to save money. At the end of the experiment, Dakira was the first one to show that the lip balm actually works and applied it on hers. After that, everyone else grabbed their lip balms and shared it with the ones who wanted to try the lip balm as well.
Our final presentation was Pop Rocks and Soda.  The girls took their turns in explaining the experiment. I was really proud of Nakaylah in really stepping it up in explaining why the balloons inflated. Armani was in charge of directing the steps so everyone can be amazed as the May 14 - 6Pop rocks popped away in the soda. They even remembered that the main gas that’s important in this experiment is Carbon dioxide!!
At the end of this event I was proud of each and every one of the girls. I could tell that their confidence levels were at an all time high today. It was still bitter sweet. Somayyah had walked up to me and said “I don’t want you to go Miss Kiara. I’m going to miss you. I really like your class, you are so nice.” I thanked Somayyah and reassured her that I will still be around when they need me. Sisters4Science goes further than just in the classroom. We help these girls with advice and guidance for everyday life as well.

Last Touches on Presentations at Carter!

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 – written by Kiara Byrd, STEM Facilitator

May 12 - 2The session before the WOW and the girls boards looked amazing!!!! They worked really hard and wanted the boards to have more on them so they could stick out. Each board had their own creativity to them and now it was just time to add pictures and know what our speeches were.

The elephant toothpaste group were of Somayyah and Jamelya. They both were going May 12 - 3to take turns in explaining the experiment. “I don’t do well with speaking in front of people, but I’ll introduce the board.” I could tell Somayyah was nervous and never really did a presentation like this before. But after some encouragement and getting her excited to present her own work, she agreed to explain the the hypothesis, the conclusion, and also the safety precautions. Somayyah went beyond what was asked and wanted to add what not to do if the experiment was tried at home. She gained more confidence and wanted to even more so the audience could see she was teaching them something.
Pop rocks and soda was the most colorful of them all. I told Armani that their board was very pretty. They also added balloons and pop rock packets on there to give it more pizazz!! After gathering all of the decorative things, the girls noticed that the research behind the experiment may be a little too wordy for them. “Miss Kiara, I don’t know how to say this stuff and know what I’m talking about.” Nakaylah said. So I helped her paraphrase. I told her because this is your work, you don’t have to say what is on the board word from word. You can say it in your own words and still be able to explain the experiment. I also helped Danaisha as well with paraphrasing and she became more comfortable with speaking.
The final board was lip balm. With this experiment, these girls learned how to use home products to make something that you can purchase from a store. They learned how to make a better economic choice in saving money with this experiment. May 12 - 4This board was also very special to Ajah. She explained that she worked very hard on this board and she could not stop smiling when looking at the final results. “I think I’m going to cry, can you take a picture of this please?” I was very touched to see how proud she was and that she was excited to show other people what she could do. This WOW Event is more than just showing experiments. It gives the girls a chance to get out of their comfort zone in a good way. They get to speak in front of people and build their confidence to be more than just middle schoolers. This gives them a chance to grow!!