Shark Tank Day! – Spring Break Exploration Day 5 Recap

Friday, April 10, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Magaly Perez

IMG_1524Practice, practice, practice! Our fifth and final day began with an icebreaker that allowed each group to present themselves and their product to the rest of the girls. The girls were also reminded that each presentation should be within four minutes, including 30-second pitches about themselves. Following the icebreaker, Ms. Eve had a short lesson prepared on what makes a good and bad pitch. The girls were shown a video of four kid entrepreneurs giving their product pitches. The video included sales pitches from Are You Kidding socks by the Kendall brothers, Zollipops by Alina Morse, Bee Sweet Lemonade by Mikaila Ulmer, and Super Business Girl. After watching each clip, the girls were asked to write whether the kid entrepreneurs had a problem statement and solution, an innovative product, and good presentation skills. Then as a whole group, the girls shared what they wrote and created a list of what makes a “Good Problem Statement”, an “Innovative Product”, and “Good Presentation Skills”.

IMG_20150410_152812554_HDR  After going through each list once more, the girls were reminded of the three things the judges were looking for; Most User-Focused Problem Statement, Most Innovative Prototype, and Best Presentation Skills. Before letting the girls continue working, Ms. Eve announced what the amazing prizes were going to be! The winners of each category would receive a wireless Bluetooth headset and the group that does best across all three categories would receive a Motorola E phone! The excitement was instantly felt in the classroom as the girls immediately started discussing their pitches within their groups. For the following hour and a half, the girls kept working on their product pitch, assigning parts, and perfecting their presentation. After giving the girls some time to work on their own, Ms. Eve, Ms. Angelina (another wonderful PE facilitator), and myself (Ms. Magaly) checked in with each group, listened to their complete presentation, and gave some feedback. By lunch time, all teams were feeling confident and ready to go! Before leaving for the Merchandise Mart, the girls had delicious pizza for lunch!

By 2 pm, the girls, parents, and staff had arrived at Merchandise Mart and checked in at the Motorola Headquarters for the main event! The girls were led up to the Chicago Theater to do final dry runs of their pitches on stage. While the girls IMG_20150410_154306855_HDRpracticed for 30 minutes, Ms. Sue and Ms. Monica held a reception for the parents and took them on a tour of the Motorola HQ and Merchandise Mart. Thirty minutes before showtime, the girls were able to change into their business attire and go on a short phone-testing lab tour with Ms. Kelly!

At 3:15 pm, it was time to start the show! Guests began to fill the seats as Ms. Eve welcomed everyone and introduce Innovation Launchpad. A short video of the spring break camp was shown which included pictures and IMG_20150410_162130171videos taken of the girls working throughout the week. Before being introduced by Ms. Eve, the girls warmed up for the big event with Ms. Kelly. The girls walked in looking fearless! The first team up was J.J.J.A. with their product, The New Revolutionary Anti-Crack Phone, which was guaranteed to never break and allowed each person to communicate their own style through customized built-in cases. The second team was Magic Techs with their product, Talk to Me, which aimed to prevent people from texting while driving by creating an app, steering wheel holder, and Bluetooth pen. The next group was Infinity & Beyond with Tap and Talk, which is an app that 14-DSC_0398allows blind people to easily make calls and use GPS on any phone. The following team was Shawties with their Motorola 500 AT product which includes a phone with a battery life of 3 days, as well as a solar charging case. The final team was Fantastic Four with Reliable Style, a compact and customized phone with a built-in chip that serves as a personal cell tower so one may have excellent reception at all times. The girls left us in awe with their amazing presentations! After congratulating the girls, all of our wonderful judges went off to make their final decisions. In the meantime, Ms. Kristen asked some of the girls to serve as a panel for the Women@Moto to interview as tech experts! Various women at Motorola IMG_20150410_163940959had plenty of questions to ask the girls from “What do you look for when choosing a phone?” to “Where do you use your phone the most?” Time flew by as the girls answered questions about one of their most important possessions, their phones!

With such great presentations, the judges took a bit more time to make their final decisions but it wasn’t long before they came back ready to announce the winners. The first prize announced was for “Best Presentation Skills” which was awarded to J.J.J.A.! J.J.J.A had great energy and knew their product so well that they hardly needed to look at their cue cards. The second prize was for Most Innovative Prototype which was awarded to Shawties for their originality and creativity in resolving the problem of low battery life. The final category of “Most User-Focused Problem Statement” resulted in a tie! Both, Infinity & Beyond and Magic Techs, had great problem statements that focused on a particular audience and provided a backstory. Each girl received the aforementioned Bluetooth headset as well as a certificate for successfully completing the Spring Break camp! As for the grand prize winner, the team that the judges IMG_1527believed did best across all three categories and won Motorola E phones was….. Fantastic Four!!! Fantastic Four focused on a major problem that phone companies are still trying to resolve, their prototypes were very detailed and understandable, and they were able to present it in a fun and creative way. Such a wonderful event came to an end as the girls posed for pictures with family, friends, and the wonderful people at Motorola that made this spring break camp possible. The girls did an amazing job with only a week’s worth of work. We couldn’t be more proud!

Thank you to all that made Innovation Launchpad possible. We can’t wait to do it again!


Why do leaves turn colors?

Happy Fall!  We had a great second week at Woodson North with our Sisters4Science students on September 23rd, which is also the first day of fall!  Our STEM Facilitator, Kiara, was unexpectedly ill, but no worries, our Program Manager, Jaclyn Carmichael, had the opportunity to fill in and meet our students!  We started the session by getting to know each other and learning some new things about one another.  The students shared their favorite song (of the moment) and something they love doing in fall to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox.  Our discussion turned into a great learning experience, when one of the students brought up the changing of the leaves!

I asked the students, “Does anyone know why the leaves change color?”  Some of them guessed that it’s because they are dying, while others guessed that it was because the weather was getting colder.  I explained to them about the purpose of chlorophyll in the leaves and what happens to it as the seasons change.  They were really engrossed in the conversation and all commented that they had learned something new!

Our next activity had all the girls excited because they had the opportunity to use something they all know and love: iPods! Project Exploration has been exploring new ways of implementing the preliminary surveys for our programs and one of the ways is through iPods, Google surveys, and QR codes.  The Woodson students did amazing with them!  Since the girls are so updated with technology, they knew exactly how to use them.  They did a great job with the survey and ensured that they were fully thinking through and answering the questions.  While they did the survey, we had some great discussions about their scientific interests and why they wanted to join our program.

Our great session ended with a review of the paperwork required for the program and the girls tried to convince me that they could keep the iPods! They have a great sense of humor!

Sisters4Science is underway at Funston!

Sisters4Science (S4S) at Funston Elementary School has officially begun! My name is Eugenia and I am the STEM facilitator for this branch of the program. This Friday, September 19th, was our first session. The girls ranged from fifth grade to eighth grade. For the first day, we decided to start it off slow and simple. To get to know one another, we had two icebreakers. The first one was the Name Game, where the girls introduced themselves and told us a fun fact about themselves. The second icebreaker we decided to do was The Human Knot, where the girls all grab someone else’s hands and were knotted together and had to untie themselves without letting go of each other’s hands.

Can the Funston girls figure out the mystery of the Human Knot?! :)

Can the Funston girls figure out the mystery of the Human Knot?! 🙂

For the rest of our time together, the girls just wanted to get all the paper work out of the way. They helped me pass out their S4S folders and the forms they needed to bring back. For the first journal prompt of the program, I gave them a pretty simple topic: “What things did they expect to learn in the program and what did they want to learn about with science in the program??” The girls wrote for a while and tried to get as many good ideas as they could! When sharing, a lot of the girls were looking forward to the many experiments that will be done during the program. You can honestly see the excitement in their faces. At the end of the day, the girls sure did look excited to be a part of S4S. Just knowing that they’re excited makes me look forward to the program even more.

Welcome all the Funston girls to Sisters4Science!! We are so excited to have you!

Welcome all the Funston girls to Sisters4Science!! We are so excited to have you!

Woodson Sisters4Science Has Begun!

Today was our first session today and let’s just say they didn’t expect what I had for them!  We opened up with introducing ourselves to feel more comfortable with the unfamiliar faces in the room. We had our two truths and a lie ice breaker and two brain games to get them more energized and get their brain working from a long day at school. After the games I asked the girls how they felt about science before they heard about our Sisters4Science program. The majority of the girls did not like science because they thought it was boring. I am not surprised :). The main issue was less activity when it came to science and how the information is delivered to them; in a book and through lecture. What they looked for in the program was more hands on things, specifically dissections, and a chance to do science projects. WELL GIRLS YOU HAVE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE! We touched on different areas that the girls were interested in learning and the overall consensus seemed to be that they truly enjoyed life sciences (biology, etc) above the other sciences.

Woodson students creating their own planet!

Woodson students creating their own planet!

Our team building activity for the day was “Building Your Own Planet”. I separated the girls intwo groups and showed them a list. The list consisted of 30 people with different descriptions and occupations. The girls in their own groups had to work together and pick 10 people from the list they could see on their planet. They needed to work together to build their own Utopian planet for their 10 people. When both groups were done, I had each group stand up and present to the class who they picked and why; ensuring that all team members had a chance to speak. It was interesting to see the differences of choices between the two groups and the girls said they had a lot of fun. We wrapped up everything with our journal entry on what we learned today from our “Build your Own Planet” activity and expressed it to everyone else, if they felt comfortable. Overall, we had a really great first day and I am excited for more!

We're excited to start the year with these amazing students!

We’re excited to start the year with these amazing students!

How do you make cheese?

Last week in Sisters4Science at Reavis, we learned about food science with our guest scientist Daina!

First, the Sisters shared what they knew about cow milk–Aaliyah remembered that it had proteins and vitamins in it, and we also discovered that milk has lactose, which makes milk sweet.
Each Sister tasted two different types of Greek yogurt, a piece of mozzarella cheese, and a piece of parmesan from Wisconsin. We found that one type of yogurt was more sour than the other; the mozzarella didn’t have a very strong taste; but the parmesan was harder than the rest, and sort of tangy or nutty. Even though all of these foods were made from cow milk, they were all made in different ways, which is why they look and taste so different!
With some styrofoam models, we discovered that milk molecules have structures called “casein micelles,” which keep the molecules far apart and the milk liquid. By using acid or an enzyme called rennet, we can break these up and allow the molecules to come closer together to make something solid (like cheese!).
So, we tried it out! Each Sister added acidic lemon juice to milk, and then filtered it to get the whey out. We also tried adding rennet to milk, and it become much more solid. To test the acidity of each mixture, we used red cabbage, which changes color based on pH. We saw that the whey we made was more acidic than the milk, which was more acidic than water. We learned a lot, and had the opportunity to try some new foods too! Great job, Sisters!

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!