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


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.”

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!

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!

DNA Extraction is Bananas!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Nedum Aniemeka

May 5 - 1 This week at Ariel, the girls of Sisters4Science received a visit from Dr. Ana Shulla! After the initial excitement over Dr. Shulla having the same name as Ana from Frozen, Dr. Shulla was able to tell the girls about her work as a scientist. Dr. Shulla works at The University of Chicago as a microbiologist and came the school to teach the girls about DNA! By completing a simple experiment, the girls were able to extract DNA themselves from a banana. A lot of the girls already extracted DNA from strawberries last season with Joyce Pieretti, so it was nice for them to get a refresher on this super fun experiment with a different type of fruit! Plus, all the new girls that joined this spring were able to extract DNA for the first time!
Dr. Shulla started off her lesson by asking the girls if they knew what DNA stood for. Because so many of our girls did their final Reflection of Knowledge presentations on the DNA extraction last season, we had a few DNA experts in our midst! Antoinette let everyone know that DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, and it’s the building blocks that make all of us unique. To add on to this, Nyssa told us that DNA is shaped like a double helix. With that quick debriefing, the girls got to mashing some bananas for their extraction. Each girl got a chance to smash the banana they were using so that it would form a smooth enough mixture to pass through the filter paper they were using for the experiment. By following the experimental protocol that each of the girls had a copy of, we were able to successfully see the DNA when we added our mixture to May 5 - 3ethanol in the end! The DNA looked like a white blob at the bottom of the girls’ test tubes. Christiana said it looked like floating cotton candy! Overall, the girls seemed to really enjoy the experiment and loved working with Dr. Shulla as well.
For a physical activity break, the girls and I formed a Human Knot! The point of the May 5 - 2game is to entangle everyone together by grabbing each other’s arms, then untangle the knot without breaking arms. The game was a bit rough at first and the girls spent more time laughing than untangling themselves, but we eventually did it. A little teamwork goes a long way!

Staying Alive!

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Nedum Aniemeka
  This week at Sisters4Science, the girls April 28 - 1of Ariel Community Academy were pleased to participate in another activity with Dr. Florence Mussat! The girls absolutely loved having her visit and teach them how to sew stitches last week so they were excited to see her again. For this session, Dr. Mussat taught the girls about a very useful skill – CPR – Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation. Most of the girls said that they had already begun babysitting kids for friends and family, so it was super important for them to know the basics of CPR so they could know what to do in case of an emergency.
To start off her lesson, Dr. Mussat showed the girls a few videos so they could see examples of what a real-life emergency would look like if someone were choking or unconscious. When asked what the first thing they should do when they see someone in trouble, Brianna said that they should call for help. That’s right Brianna! Whenever anyone thinks they or someone they’re with is in danger, the first thing they need to do is call 9-1-1 to ensure the proper April 28 - 4authorities are alerted to the situation. However, after that CPR may be necessary, and this is what Dr. Mussat covered in her demonstration. Because we didn’t have any actual dummies to practice on, the girls had to use our junior Kids4Science – Brooklyn and Jadyn. Don’t worry, no six year olds were harmed in the making of this demonstration! All of the girls got to pair off in twos and simulate an emergency situation in which they were babysitters. Dr. Mussat told the girls that “Staying Alive” had the perfect beat to do chest compressions to, and because of that she asked each pair to have someone sing the song while they did CPR! Antimia had a blast out of that and even got everyone else singing aApril 28 - 2long with her.
At the end of the demonstration, the girls had a dance break for their physical activity, and what better song to use than “Staying Alive”! Overall, it was a successful week of Sisters4Science at Ariel!