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!
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Finalizing our WOW!s at Woodson!

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 – written by Kiara Byrd, STEM Facilitator

Today is the last day we have before the big event! The girls have worked hard and will finally have the chance to show it all off. I asked each of the groups of girls what exactly they knew about their experiment that they will be presenting. What would be the purpose and also what exactly did they learn from it? Ms. Harrell and I went around the room to see what the girls thoughts were. We wanted them to write down everything in their own words, so they would know what to say when they presented. There were a couple of challenges with wording but they knew I would be there for assistance.

In each group, there were different objectives related to their specific demonstration. With the lantern group, I asked Tahnya what did she think the purpose was, “So we can make lanterns on our own and not buy them.” I wanted her to know she was right. This experiment was more crafty but because it still involves science, it’s about being resourceful, and you could even consider it recycling! Creating a product out of what you already have is a wonderful thing. It can also show other kids that even if you can’t afford something, with the right creative mind, you can make it!!!
Our second group with the Coca-Cola geyser was more understanding the function of a real action. Associating it with things we find in our grocery store. As a couple of girls worked on the board, Semajah and Asia were in charge of doing more research. I asked the girls to tell me what they learned about geysers. Semajah explained that when the magma gets hot, the water explodes. With a geyser eruption, yes water bursts out and with associating our materials, the magma is our carbon dioxide. With the mentos reacting with the soda, tiny bubble form around the mentos capsule, pushing the soda out to erupt. “Really? So the pop explodes from the mentos.” Asia asked and made sure she kept note of that.
Our final group was the tornado vortex. Don’ya was in charge of typing out the research, but wasn’t sure if she could do it by herself. But Stephanee reassured her that she will not be doing it alone. “It’s okay Donya we are going to help you, we’re all going to do it together.” As soon as that was said they all worked together in the research. With this experiment, they learned how a tornado looks when it firms and also when materials. such as structures are caught in a tornado, how would it look. This is where the confetti came in. Rachel and Stephanee were really taking initiative in knowing the science behind this. I could tell they were really interested. One more week to go and the world will be WOWed by our amazing Woodson sisters and their presentations!

Lanterns, Geysers and Tornadoes at Woodson!

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Kiara Byrd

April 30 - 5Today we are going to get the ball rolling!!! We have chosen our experiments and now it is time to do it all on our own, so the girls are ready to present to the world what they can do. At Woodson, the girls chose three experiments. We have, make your own lantern, diet coke and mentos geyser, and your own tornado.

The first group was doing the geyser experiment. I wanted the girls to first pick a designated role for themselves in the group. So everyone is in charge of something and everyone can help each other. After girls picked their roles it was time to get an idea of what they were actually displaying with the experiment. I asked the girls to remember the important factors that makes aApril 30 - 3 geyser work and relate it to their materials. Semajah was in charge of writing down the scientific method for the group and she was asking all the questions she could to make sure she understood everything. Asia, in charge of directing the experiment, also asked exactly what happened to the mentos after dropping it into the cola. This experiment shows how carbon dioxide bubbles form around the mentos capsule and pushes as much cola out of the bottle as it could. This is what makes the “eruption” occur.
The lantern group learned that science can be anything. So they wanted to show that by using household things, you can create your own “product”. This is how engineers are able to create their own projects, by being creative and inventive. They really enjoyed this experiment because it involved crayons and they could be really proud of the beautiful designs that happen after ironing the color on the paper to make the lantern.
April 30 - 4My last group is making your own tornado. Thanks to our guest scientists, the girls were able to know more about natural disasters and tornados are one of them. With this experiment, the girls have a chance to understand tornadoes better and with a little confetti, a nice visual of what happens when things get warped inside the tornado passing by. The girls even allowed the other girls to test their tornadoes so they can enjoy as well.
Everyone was working together and making sure we all stayed in task in order to be successful for the WOW! and other end of the year presentations.

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!

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!

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!

Flood and Houses Floating Away!

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator Kiara Byrd

March 12 - 7I am happy to say that we had a special guest today and her name is Ms. Lauren Vanden Berg.  She is a Civil Engineer and works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She had a presentation for the girls about flooding and how her job helps with that around the country. One of my 8th graders, Stephanee, was really asking questions on how flooding can have different effects in different areas. “I know when I see a flood warning, I want to get out of there as soon as possible.” The girls were also surprised to see a video clip that Lauren showed them of houses bring literally drifted away from flooding. Semajah asked if that can ever happen in Chicago, and Lauren replied that her and her colleagues try to make sure it doesn’t.

After the presentation, Lauren explained that it was the girls turn to build their own March 12 - 5floodplain and see the effects of flooding themselves. We split the girls into 3 groups and they each had their own river design they had to construct. The girls have learned they like to get dirty, so they were not against the activity after learning they will be dealing with dry clay. Each group was really working together and I noticed they each had their own idea and strategy on how to build the river to match the model they were given. When Lauren noticed that one group was finished, she decided to use them as an example of showing the girls a flood March 12 - 9and then the difference when you build certain structures to prevent that. The first group was Destiny, Alana, and Semajah. We asked the other girls to gather around and see what it should look like. Alana volunteered to participate in the demonstration. Lauren used water to show the flood and asked Alana to build a Levee using the clay. After adding the levee, Alana then showed the difference in how the water did not flood as much as before. The other girls had a better understanding and was ready for their turns to see how their floodplain would be. They really liked that this activity was very engaging and that they had a chance to get a little dirty with the clay. I witnessed very good teamwork and that you may be given the same thing but different strategies can arise and that is how engineers think. There is not a right or wrong way in creating something, for it is all about trial and error.