This semester in S4S Calumet…The Wrap Up!

This semester the lovely ladies of Sisters 4 Science- Calumet learned many, many things! They were afforded the opportunity to explore and experiment in many different sectors of science.

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Some of their most fond memories include making lava lamps, straw bridges, and dry ice bubbles! They got to talk about everything from science to personal hygiene and home concerns.


We talked about college, what it takes to get there and what it takes to successfully stay there. They truly enjoyed my personal stories of college let downs and triumphs, and were all reassured that college is for them!

The girls were also apart of the first cohorts for a few pilot programs this semester! The got to try out the True Child curriculum, in which we talked about gender roles and how we see/think of ourselves and other people. They also got to try out the new badging system the City of Chicago is kick starting and earned a total of four badges! These badges are electronic awards that they will be able to access in the years to come.

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In addition to all of that fun, the girls received visits from many cool scientists including Ms. Iris Berry, who taught about health and nutrition, Mrs. Shavonda Fields, who spoke about the science of the female body, Ms. Rui Zhang, who taught and experimented with mushrooms with the girls, and Ms. Andrea Henry, who explained perception and added very cool experimental stations.

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Overall, the girls had a blast! We shared laughs, smiles, frowns, cupcakes and pizza! We shared knowledge, dreams, goals and missions, and I truly believe that every girl will supersede her anticipated destination!

We ended the semester with our version of Reflection of Knowledge! Brittany Alexander, a very talented 7th grader, wrote the poem that summarized our time together! Unfortunately, I can’t share the video of it, but trust that it was GREAT!!

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Before I wrap up, I want to shout a very loud CONGRATULATIONS to Majaya Glenn, Asia Moore, Winter Jackson and Ludmilla Sylvestre!! These lovely scholars will make the transition to high school at the end of the month!! Myself and the rest of the Sisters send all of our love and blessings to the girls on their new journey!

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It was an absolute pleasure working with the girls this semester, and if they received nothing else from the program, I hope they received me as an ever-reachable mentor and friend!


This Week in S4S Calumet….Brain and Perception!

This week, the lovely ladies of S4S Calumet received a visit from SUPER SMART Andrea Henry, a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago.


Andrea started out with explaining in light detail the brain and its many parts and functions, as well as giving us jelly beans! She talked about the four brain lobes, which are frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, and temporal lobe. She then explained the function of each lobe, like how the frontal lobe is responsible for personality, and even shared an interesting story that proves that theory!

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She then talked about the different connections our brain has to different parts of our body, and how in order for us to see, the light and image has to travel all the to the back of the brain in order for us to see it. TOTALLY COOL info!

After making sure the girls understood the basics of the brain, she then went into a classic perception exercise involving photos. The girls went through the photos, some figuring out the hidden image, and some not.

Then came the fun! While the girls took part in the first half of their lesson, I was tasked with sorting skittles by color. Boy, if I had know what would come next!

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Andrea set up four different stations, audition, vision, touch and taste. The girls then formed small groups and visited each station to test their brains perceptions of the things around them.

The first station was vision. The girls had to stand at one end of a yard stick while another girl stood at the other end holding up a colored note card. The person with the note card then slowly turned at a 90 degree angle, switching note cards until the other person could only detect motion of the card, but not the color.

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The next station was touch. The girls were a tad bit confused with this one to start, but once they got it, they had a ton of fun. In this activity, the girls had to close their eyes and determine where the note card touching them had one, two or three paperclips. Sounds fairly easy to determine, but everything seems to feel the same!

The third station was taste. This was the girls favorite because they got to eat the Skittles! They had to close their eyes and plug their noses and guess they flavor of an undisclosed Skittle given to them by their sister.


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The last, and most difficult station was audition. The girls had to sit in a chair with their eyes closed while people clapped around them. Their task was to guess where the clap came from. This activity proved that of all the senses, hearing is the most difficult to use.

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Overall, the girls had a great time! Andrea’s lesson really embraced our motto of education and fun!


In the World of S4S Calumet…Aero Experts!!

This week the lovely ladies of S4S Calumet traded in their bridge engineering hats for aerospace engineering ones!

The girls zoned in on air resistance and how it affects the construction of airplanes and helicopters. They learned how a helicopter must be built to combat the great force of gravity!

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They then took their learning session to the next level by cutting out paper helicopters, and manipulating them through folding, cutting and the addition of paper clips to determine the best way to make the helicopter fly and hit the ground at a slower rate.

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We also talked about college, what they are looking forward to when they go, and why it is important to wait a while for certain life events.

Each girl earned the Discover Investigation badge for the week for their ability to understand and form hypothesis around the construction of aerospace materials.

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In the World of S4S Calumet…Little Engineers!!

Last week, the lovely ladies of S4S Calumet put on their thinking caps and became little engineers. The girls learned about different kinds of bridges, such as a Truss bridge. They also learned “bridge engineer” jargon, as well as definitions and where it would be used in the construction of a bridge. Words such as deck, beam, truss, load, live load, and dead load.

The girls then broke up into two groups and brainstormed for about five minutes on ways to construct their straw bridge so that it would securely hold a cup with at least 25 paper clips.

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After building for about 15 minutes, we measured the length and width of each bridge, and began our cup and paper clip testing.

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The first bridge only held five paper clips before the cup tipped over, and the winning bridge held a whopping 26 paper clips before falling over!

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All of the girls successfully earned the Discovering Communication badge for their constant questions, input and correlations!

Stay tuned for more in the world of S4S Calumet!

In the World of S4S Calumet…Food Wellness!

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The lovely ladies of S4S at Perspectives Calumet received a visit from Ms. Iris Berry! Ms. Berry spoke to the girls about health and nutrition as it pertains to what they put into their mouths.

She focused a lot on the correlation between nourishment and elimination. She explained the different ways of how what you eat effects elimination, and what it means. I.E. Salad=Good elimination, and Flamin’ Hots=Bad elimination.

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Of course Ms. Berry is a foodie, so the lesson couldn’t go on without the breakdown and preparation of a healthy snack. She chose cantaloupe and pumpkin seeds as the main ingredients in the dish, highlighting the many health benefits of both. She then added cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and sea salt, also explaining the health benefits, like how cayenne pepper is FANTASTIC for your digestive system, and how cinnamon helps to keep your blood sugar levels in check!

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The girls then assisted Ms. Berry in combining all of the ingredients before we all dug in. To say that dish was AMAZING would be an understatement!

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The girls also participated in an info session about the new badging system that we are adopting to reward them for their greatness. Their favorite part was putting all of their info into the form and adding their picture! They are extremely excited to use the new system!

Spring Kick-Off Meeting

The YOUmedia space in the Harold Washington Library hosted us for our spring kick-off meeting on Sunday, January 12th. The meeting began with a metaphorming activity, inspired from the Art of Science Learning Chicago Incubator introductory activity led by Todd Siler, where the facilitators were challenged to make a visual representation of what “teaching” meant to them as a team. The result was moving and powerful to say the least! Diversity, connectivity, adding life experience to the classroom mixture and investigating the world with students were ideas that were presented using the theme of oranges.


Reem and Brittany adding final touches to their metaphorming activity.

The meeting was interactive and included brain breaks to incorporate movement into the meeting and into Sisters4Science classrooms, utilized a strategy known as Chalk Talk where the facilitators were asked to communicate using only writing, and finished with a fascinating tour of the YOUmedia space led by Daniel Tamayo. Brienne was in love with the 3-D printer and wants to bring her class to the space this semester!


Facilitators participating in the Chalk Talk

Each facilitator brought a lesson to share  and we are excited to announce that Stories from Cory, an initiative to provide books to under-resourced classroom led by Sharon Kiddon, will be providing all of the Sisters with copies of Mae Jemison’s 100 Year Starship for implementation of Tolu’s lesson on female role models.

We are extremely excited for the next chapter in Sisters4Science!  We would like to thank our funders: City of Chicago’s Department of  Family and Support Services, HUD, Polk Bros. Foundation, Chicago Foundation For Women, Siragusa Foundation, Motorola Solutions Foundation, the Replogle Foundation and Sara Paretsky.  We would also like to thank YOUmedia and Stories from Cory for their support.  Project Exploration is honored to have such dedicated, innovative and inspiring leaders changing the face of science every week in Sisters4Science classrooms!


From left: Brienne, Reem, Syda, Krystal, Marilee, Bori, Tolu

Winter Science Exploration

By Maureen

On Friday, January 3, 14 hardy girls (and four boys, including my four-year-old son!) braved the cold and snow to travel to the Chicago Botanic Garden and learn more about photosynthesis. On the way there, Program Manager Krystal Meisel challenged them to learn—or review—as much about photosynthesis as they could, either from each other, from the chaperones, or by texting or calling a friend.

 When we arrived, CBG volunteers led a review of photosynthesis and the group aced all their questions. Then they explained the basics of cellular respiration, when plants use up stored food they’ve made through photosynthesis. Knowing that plants make food when sunlight is available, the youth were invited to hypothesize whether plants in the garden greenhouse would be photosynthesizing food or using up stored food through cellular respiration.

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Inside the garden, the students formed teams and used probes to measure the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide the plants were releasing overtime. The teams captured clear readings of decreasing amounts of oxygen, showing that the plants were using up stored food, not making new food.

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In a second activity, the students put plant cell samples from a desert plant and a rainforest plant under a microscope to find and count the stomata in each. They found that the jade plant had fewer stomata because it needs to conserve water more than the rainforest plant does.


After lunch the group took time to explore the Winter Wonderland model train exhibit. This was my son’s favorite part, and the older kids enjoyed it too.

 “Before I came, I didn’t know anything about photosynthesis,” said 6th-grader Eryn W. “I’m going to remember it’s how we get oxygen.”

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