Leadership Retreat to the Surgical Museum

On December outsidephoto13th, Project Exploration’s Sisters4Science program took our 4 participating schools (Carter G. Woodson North Middle School, Ariel Community Academy, Frederick Funston Elementary School, and Marquette School of Excellence) to the International Museum of Surgical Science (IMSS) in Chicago’s own Gold Coast neighborhood! The students were really excited to visit this wonderful building, that not only holds some of the greatest innovations from the medical surgery world, but also has a rich history within the walls of the building itself.   AccordingIMG_0538 to the IMSS history, the historic lakeside mansion belonged to a prominent Chicago family in the early 1900’s. The overall designed is based on French chateaus that belonged to Louis XVII and Marie Antoinette.  The building has four floors and many rooms within it, making it an amazing location for the museum.  Our wonderful STEM Facilitators lead our students through the day and the girls learned a ton!  Each facilitator wrote a short reflection of the day and their students’ experiences so we can learn about the day from all different points of view!

Angelina Jaimes

STEM Facilitator, Psychology student at Northeastern Illinois University

IMG_0542 image3As a Chicago resident, I have lived here my entire life. I have visited Chicago museums such as the Field Museum and others, but I found that visiting the International Museum of Surgical Science was different from the other museums. At the entrance, I was surprised that it used to be a house owned by a well-known family in Chicago. My very first impression was the history of surgical science and how before scientist were not aware of the existence of germs and their journey to discovering them. I believe this was a great learning experience for the girls, it provided them a chance to learn about surgical science have some fun at the same time. The girls did not only have the chance to tour the museum and learn but they had the chance to watch a surgical demonstration on how scientist/ doctors in the past perform surgery, amputations in particular.  This retreat not only provided the girls with a learning experience but an opportunity to engage with their fellow classmates, their facilitators, and with other Sisters4Science girls from other schools.

Kiara Byrd

STEM Facilitator, Woodson North and Marquette IMG_0559

The experience at the retreat was very interesting! I really liked that the girls could learn so much history at this place and were also able to make friends with other girls from the other Sisters4Science schools. I was able to witness the girls ask lots of questions and also react when they were blown away by information they never thought existed. I also saw that it helped the girls get a better understanding on certain things while on the tour as well. For this being our first field trip, I felt it turned out great. The girls also expressed more empathy towards what had happened to the people in the past when there were other alternatives when it came to medical treatment. I know that really opened their eyes to the advancements we have accomplished and are truly blessed for coming a long way in the medical field. They really enjoyed themselves and so did I.

Eugenia Ruiz

STEM Facilitator, Anthropology student at DePaul University

image1The day had finally com!. All the schools that have Sisters4Science were finally coming together for the Leadership Retreat.  The girls from Funston Elementary were beyond excited because they had never even heard of the museum. Once all the girls had met in a room to take off their coats, they were all mixed up together and separated into different groups. The group that I was a part of was group A. I had a few of the girls from Funston but also from the others schools. It was good to be able to meet the different girls and ask how they were enjoying the experience with FullSizeRender12Sisters4Science so far. The girls were given a tour and when we entered a different room you can hear some of them go “ahh that’s so cool”. It was refreshing to see that this part of science can bring the girls to an awe of its history. They even showed a demonstration of an amputation were two girls volunteered to be the either the doctor or the patient. It was super cool to see all the girls get into the demonstration. Overall, I think the girls enjoyed themselves very much. Many of them left the museum with questions or comments about how cool it was and if they could go visit with their families. Definitely a great day!



Nedum Aniemeka

STEM Facilitator, Pre-Medicine student at the University of ChicagoIMG_0557

The retreat to the Surgical Museum was a blast! It was great to be able to see all of the girls from different programs get together and meet each other for the first time. I think they all loved the experience and  learned some awesome things at the museum! Antimia told me that her favorite part was the exhibit about anesthesia because it was crazy to see how surgical procedures happened when things had to be done the old-fashioned way. “Amputating a leg with no anesthesia would not be pleasant.” On the other hand, Rhema was impressed that they invented some of the tools they used before modern technology made surgeries quicker and more efficient! Overall, I think the trip was a huge success and all of the girls are looking forward to the next retreat!


IMG_0582 IMG_0578 IMG_0575woodson

Being Scientific with Slime!

Dec 10 - 5It was time to get creative on December 10th! But first I want to say that Nina is always bringing new faces to the program and it is just wonderful that she is so open to showing her friends what exactly we do in Sisters4Science and how amazing it is to be in such a program. Today we had a chance to meet Symone, she is an 8th grader. We went around the room introducing ourselves and I briefly explained what the program was really about.

After introductions, I could tell the girls looked like they had a long day so why not wake up everyone at the same time by “Shaking it off”! I gathered all the girls and had them stand up in the front of the room. First I let them stretch out and told them to reach from side to side. Now it was time to shake it. “Everybody reach high into the sky now drop to the ground.” We started to wiggle and shake our whole bodies all the way back to our stretched out position. We were shaking away the tiredness, the negativity, everything that distracted us to be free to learn for the rest of the session today. We “shook it” a few times and a few laughs from Symone and a couple of other girls told me this was definitely helping. We came to a rest and asked if anyone knew about the human knot game. I explained the game to them and even participated for more encouragement. It was all up to the to  strategize and work together as a team to get out of the knot. Nina was pretty impressed and had no problem using her ideas to help everyone make the right move. It wasn’t long before we were all detangled and in one clean circle. After the human knot, I explained to the girls how they may get messy. Part of being a scientist was staying clean but also should not mind getting a little dirty. ITS SLIME DAY!!!

Dec 10 - 1 Dec 10 - 2

Our goal is to make the slimiest gooiest, and most colorful slime we could think of. I allowed the girls to see exactly the set of materials being used and how they are responsible for putting the right amount of ingredients together with my help. They each had their own mixing bowls and bags so they are able to take it home and show their families. Ashanti, one of the 5th graders, were very particular about her slime and wanted all the mixing to be perfect. The rest of the girls also expressed the different colors they had in mind for their slime. “I want blue and red” said Daishia. “I want it to look like Mahina’s” Mahina had first chosen blue and red and others followed suit. While others like Ashanti simply picked green. “This is really fun!” said Symone. And with that I allowed them to collect the slime they just created and had enough time to make another. The girls got excited and of course changed colors. Some had blue green as their color and even orange. They really liked the idea that they created something themselves from items they can find around the house. That even made them more curious on its properties. Such as how sticky it is and how long will it last, comparing it to clay that is sat out for days. I was satisfied with all of their participation and the girls told me that they really are starting to really like Sisters4Science when they are able to create things on their own!

Dec 10 - 8

Biology With A Side of Fruit!

Dec 3 - 11On 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, whoDec 3 - 2 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.

Dec 3 - 3For 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 Dec 3 - 8perform 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!

Creating Your Own Disease!

The Marquette girls brought more of their friends to the program on November 19th, which made the session even better today! Since we had more new faces, I did a brief introduction of myself and let the girls play two truths and a lie. This game helped make the girls feel more comfortable, especially Nina. Nina is an 8th grader and she was the one who had a lot of questions and also was more open to talk to the other girls.

Nov 19 - 3 Nov 19 - 2

After we got better acquainted I introduced the girls to our guest scientist, Maria Ayala Ramirez. She is a student working towards her PhD study immunology. She had prepared the girls to a process similar to Gryffindor. Do you remember Harry Potter?? Maria had created cards of different organisms and they had to place them in the right categories: Parasites, Bacteria, Viruses, and Cells. It was interesting to see the girls read the scientific names of the organisms. “These words are too long!”; “Yea and do they really look like this inside your body” Mahina, another 8th grader, was a little taken back from all the possible living things that can be good or bad for you.

After they went through all the cards it was now their turn to use their imagination. Maria and I brought out the construction paper and markers and told the girls to create their own organisms. They all had their time to draw their own organism, name it, and what it exactly does. Lanaise, an 8th grader, created a bacteria named Enzema. This bacteria was good for it cures and fights any bad bacteria or viruses. Kayla, an 8th grader, explained her bacteria. “The bacteria I made is a bad bacteria, it causes internal bleeding and how you can get it is from infected air.” I was impressed by the ideas the girls had for their bacteria, whether it was good or bad. The girls had a fun time learning about microorganism a and were glad to hear they could take their creations home, so they can show their families. It was a successful session!

Nov 19 - 9 Nov 19 - 5

Surveys and Toothpaste!

Welcome to Sisters 4 Science!! I met new 8th graders to the program this week. We introduced ourselves and got a chance to get to know each other. They asked me questions about myself and vice versa. We went over the important things before we got into the learning for the day! Jacki, our Program Manager, was with us today so the girls could take their pre-surveys for the program and we also went over the Sisters4Science ‘Code of Conduct’. The girls easily understood our principles and were very receptive to what I was trying to say when it came down to becoming confident with science.

How much hydrogen peroxide does it take to clean an elephant's teeth?

How much hydrogen peroxide does it take to clean an elephant’s teeth?

For this session, I performed the popular elephant toothpaste experiment and the girls had a chance to do it on their own. They were very precise with the ingredients and even had us test a theory that Nina came up with. “If we added more of the amount of hydrogen peroxide into the bottle, will the reaction cause more foam to form?” We tested that theory and we gathered that there was a faster reaction but the amount of foam was similar to the first trial. The girls really liked the experiment and said they would tell their friends about joining the program. It was really nice meeting these girls and I look forward to next week.

It's a foaming volcano!

It’s a foaming volcano!

Which one created the most foam?

Which combination of ingrediants created the most foam?

Sisters4Science Gets Started at Marquette!

October 22nd was the first day at Marquette Elementary School. I met the girls and they were really excited to be there! They were really nice and were open for me to tell them about the program. It was introduction day, so I told them about the aspect of the program and the fun experiments they can look forward to. After getting through the important stuff, we had a chance to relax and get know one another better!

I introduced myself and went around the room for the girls to introduce themselves. They even talked about their families and interesting facts about them as well without me asking. One girl named Rayniah had a very interesting fact she shared about herself. “I was born with my heart on the right side instead of the left and when I was born my umbilical cord was wrapped around my arm, so that’s why my left arm is smaller than my right.” I could tell that they were not afraid to show who they were to me and that was a good feeling. The girls even expressed that they love science and math. The biggest smile came across my face. They were in the right place! We then talked about the specific topics we want to research and what kind of field trips could we do. They of course asked what I did before becoming a facilitator and that’s when our animal talk came about. I was delighted to meet these sweet girls who can even teach something about science I may not have known. I am excited to start or sessions and to really get the girls more proactive in the field!