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


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.”

Almost Ready for Funston’s Demonstrations!

May 22nd, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Eugenia Ruiz
May 22 - 1 The girls at Funston Elementary were beyond ready for today’s Sisters4Science session. It was the week before Reflections of Knowledge and they already had an eventful day at Girls Health and Science Day.To start off the session, we all sat around in a circle and talked about our favorite parts of the day. Lizette Barrios said that her favorite part was the yoga session. She had never done yoga before and it was an interesting May 22 - 2experience for her. Another student, Emely Concepcion, said that her favorite part was learning about the healthy ways to eat.
For the rest of the session, the girls got to work with creating their posters. There were three presentations: Sutured Banana, Radios, and Rockets! The girls each got their supplies and split up to work on the presentations. Emely and Lizette worked on Sutured Banana they had a chance to practice with Dr. Florence Mussat. Lizvette, Victoria, and Lizbeth worked on Rockets and recreating the experiment they learned from Dr. Judy May 22 - 3Lubin the week before! Julie Astudillo, Julie Concepcion, and Niyah Simpson worked on the Radio presentation that they learned from Dr. Michelle Harris. I had the girls write their presentations on bright colored posters and they used bright paper to use as their titles. It was fantastic to see the girls enjoy working together for their presentations. They were all ready for the Reflections of Knowledge! Now to just wait for the day to come. Until then!

Rockets and Their Amazing-ness!

Friday, May 15th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Eugenia Ruiz

  May 15 - 5 The day has finally arrived! The girls at the Sisters4Science program at Funston Elementary have been waiting for this day for a long time! Today’s session is all about rockets. To start the day off, we began with a small ice breaker. The girls really loved mimicking each others movements and memorizing everyone else’s so we did that one again. We even included our scientist, Judy Lubin, in our ice breaker. We had so much fun and silliness! We did about three rounds just with that ice breaker.
Our scientist for today is actually a part of the board for Project Exploration. Her name is Judy Lubin. She has a Masters in Economics, yet she is also a civilian scientist. Dr. Lubin explained to the girls that a civilian scientist is May 15 - 3someone who does not have a degree in science yet has a passion for it. Dr. Lubin has a passion for science, more specifically rockets (which is amazing). She brought in a 13 foot rocket that she had built herself. She called it the “Drag Queen” and the girls loved it. Dr. Lubin and I split the rocket in half so the girls were able to see it from the inside. They touched and asked several questions about the rocket. Some questions that the girls asked were: “Where does the parachute go?” and “How much does the rocket weigh?” It was fantastic to see the girls so interested in the rocket.
She talked about how her and her son created these rockets together. She brought in several pictures and even a presentation to show the girls. She even brought a video to show how one of her rockets took off at a competition. The girls were in awe.
may 15 - 6Dr. Lubin began talking about how a rocket can actually blast off. The main ingredient was: pressure. She brought in several little rockets so the girls can work with their own. In each small bag were the rocket itself and alka seltzer tablets.  Judy and the girls went outside and they filled the rocket with 10 mL May 15 - 8of water and placed the tablet inside the rocket. Each girl took their turn to close the rockets, place it on the ground, take several steps back, and wait for it to blast off. The girls’ reactions were AMAZING. They were amazed at the reaction that water and an alka seltzer could have when combined.
Bringing the girls back in, Judy showed the girls the combustion fuel that the rocket would use. Then she asked the biggest question of the day: “How many alka seltzer tablets would it take to help the Drag May 15 - 10Queen take off?” Some of the guesses ranged from 100-1,000. The real answer? It took 2,000 tablets to even have the rocket launch. The girls laughed because it was such a large number. The day ended very well!  The girls loved Dr. Judy and all the knowledge she brought to the session. The girls left super excited and interested in knowing more about civilian scientist. I have to say, it was a great day to be a scientist!

Should I Be Pretty or Smart?!

Friday, May 8th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator, Eugenia Ruiz
On this warm day, at the Sisters4Science program at Funston Elementary, the girls were ready to start the session. This Friday’s plan was specifically to have a TrueChild lesson and prepare for the Reflections of Knowledge coming up! It was finally hitting the girls that the ending of the program for the year was quite near. To start it all off, we began by playing an ice breaker together. We circled together and played a game where we were to mimic a persons movement and make one up on our own. It was so much fun to see the girls come up with some crazy movements!

image3As we sat back down, we got straight to business. The main question of the day was: what experiments/activities did we want to present at the Reflections of Knowledge? All the girls pitched in their ideas and we came up with the top three experiments/activities rather quickly. The top three were: Sutured Banana, Radios, and Galaxy Slime. These were definitely subject to change seeing as we had a guest scientist the following week, whose main topic was rockets!

It was settled then. Those were the three experiments that we wanted to present. Then we figured out the main supplies that were needed for the experiments and poster boards. It all was going pretty smoothly with the girls and preparing for our event.
image4To end the session, we did a TrueChild lesson. The lesson was to create two columns: in the first column, have the girls describe what a “pretty” girl looks like and acts and the second column was having the girls describe what a “smart” girl looks like. The top three descriptions were: “they feel superior”, “worries about how she looks”, and is “rude”. The descriptions that were common with the girls that were smart were: “low self-esteem”, “on their own”, and “good future”. It was interesting to see the girls think of these descriptions. Many had a lot to add to the descriptions, some even related to either category. After completing that exercise, we all had a discussion on if they think it is possible to be both smart and pretty. Many thought that it was impossible, yet I went on to explain to the girls that you can be both smart and pretty. I let them know that they have a beautiful mind and to always be smart about choices. It does not matter whether society likes them, I told them that it was important for them to love themselves. That is all for this session! Next week we have our rocket scientist coming and the girls are looking forward to it!

Dirty, Old Pennies Transform!

Friday, May 1, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator Bori Kim

May 1 - 4Another beautiful day in Chicago! The first day of May, spring is here (we still had a load of snow around this time last year). The girls may be distracted if it is too beautiful outside like this, so there must be something fun that wins over this spring breeze.  Luckily, Ms. Angelina Jaimes, a Project Exploration STEM Facilitator brought so much fun and even practical science into our Funston Sisters4Science session!

Ms. Angelina set up the materials on a table and the girls and I sat around.  White Vinegar, Lemon Concentrate, Salt, and Water. The girls were so excited to see these simple materials or ingredients that made us think we were about to “cook” May 1 - 1something.  Then, Ms. Angelina showed us a bag of pennies.  Old, dirty pennies.  A-ha, we are not cooking!  “We are cleaning these pennies only with these materials here. I will demonstrate first then you are all going to make them clean,” said Ms. Angelina.  She put one tea-spoon of each in a clear plastic cup and let pennies sink into lemony water. “Ok, now it is your turn girls,” said Ms. Angelina handing them out the clear cups.

“Since we have a small group of girls, what about experimenting with four different variables?” I added an idea. “Yes, that’s good idea,” agreed Ms. Angelina.  I gave them a direction, “So, you have four options girls.  You create those options for yourself and see which one makes your pennies cleanest.” “Ms. Angelina and I want to see the cleanest, purest pennies.”

May 1 - 3“Can I taste these before we do?” “Can I too?” the girls so wanted to taste them so we let them do.  They wanted to figure out which ingredient would play a major role to clean the pennies by tasting. Very creative and cute idea!

“Oh my, I love vinegar,” said Victoria. “Really?” Julie asked and tried it with her baby finger then “Yikes!” she screamed.

“Okay girls, let set up your four variables.” “Oh, one more question for you. What is penny made of? If you know this, it might be easier to come up with variables.” I explained a bit more to help the girls think critically. “Oh, it’s copper,” said the girls in unison. “Good. So try it.” I encouraged them.

The girls were very engaged in figuring out which mixture would work best forMay 1 - 7pennies. One cup without water, but the rest of ingredients. One cup with less vinegar than others. One cup with more lemon than vinegar. All different variables the girls have set up.

“I think salt,” said Emely, “because I put one cup of salt with a spoon of others. This one is cleanest,” pointing her cleanest pennies. “Wow, one cup of salt! That’s a nice try.” I complemented her. “What about others?” asked Ms. Angelina. “I think lemon, the acid does something,” responded Julie.  “That’s a good guess too” Ms. Angelina said.

Looking at their cleanest pennies, we all agreed that the salt plays a more important role than other ingredients.  Without all ingredients, however, the pennies would’ve never had a chance to take a bath.

May 1 - 9 Special Thanks to Ms. Angelina for visiting and giving the girls a really great experiment!

Radio, Are You There? Over!

Friday, April 24th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator Eugenia Ruiz
April 24 - 2 April 24 - 4Greetings from the wonderful Sisters4Science girls at Funston Elementary! It’s a brand new week, which means a brand new session day. The weather is finally getting nicer and the sun keeps peeking out. For today’s plan, we have Dr. Michelle Harris, from Northwestern University, as our scientist of the day. She has a PhD in Chemistry and she was always interested in science growing up. The last time that Dr. Harris came to visit, she brought solar panels for the girls to see how much energy power from light can actually turn on a mini lightbulb. For this session, she brought along something greater: radios!
To start the session off, we had a small physical ice breakers. The girls all gathered in a circle. We called April 24 - 7the ice breaker ‘Copy Cat’ but it basically consists of having one student start off by making a movement. Then, the next student was to copy the movement and create their own. The third student would copy the previous two movements and create their own and so on and so forth. The girls were having so much fun that I, along with Dr. Harris, decided to join the fun. Julie Astudillo decided to challenge herself and be the last student to do all of the movements. I must say that sure was a fun ice breaker.
To begin the activity, Dr. Harris had a worksheet for the girls. In the worksheet, they recapped the last session they had together with the solar panels. Then it began with explaining how to BUILD the radios and how to make them work. The girls separated
into four groups. They each had the supplies to create their own radio. Lizbeth was amazed at how, with what seem like simple supplies, were able to create a radio. You can definitely tell when all the groups figured out how to get the radios working becauseApril 24 - 3 all the music would be going around the room. Dr. Harris went around to each group to make sure they understood as to what was happening with he radios. Julie Concepcion was beyond intrigued asking what would happen if a wire was changed or an antennae.
It was so good to see the girls enjoy building a radio that they thought would not work. They learned that with hard work and concentration, they can accomplish anything. Until next time!