Survival of the Fittest

What does it mean to evolve? How did humans develop the traits we have to survive today? This week at Ariel the girls of Sisters4Science learned the answers to these questions and more when Joyce Pieretti came to teach us about evolution! Joyce came to Ariel in the fall with a great experiment about DNA, so Feb 24 - 2the girls were excited to have her back. To start off the lesson, Joyce asked all the girls to tell her what they thought evolution was. Brianna told us that evolution is what happened to cavemen millions of years ago as they turned into humans. Ja’Nyha added to that by reminding everyone that our ancestors are monkeys! With those thoughts in mind, Joyce explained tht evolution is the process of keeping traits that can help you survive and getting rid of ones that act as a disadvantage. To help show this concept, the girls did an activity where they each had a tool to hunt with – either a fork or a spoon. Using only their tools, the girls had to “eat” as many pom poms as possible in 15 seconds. At the end of the activity the girls realized that people with spoons picked up more pom poms than people with forks! Kiara realized that this meant people with spoons would survive in nature and people with forks would not. That’s how evolution works!
Feb 24 - 5After their activity, the girls got down to journaling. The question of the day was whether anyone thought humans were still evolving. Antimia said “humans are still evolving because we’re learning new things every day that help us to be more efficient for survival.” One of the new girls, Allana, said that she didn’t think humans could evolve anymore because even though we’re getting smarter, our bodies can’t change anymore. I guess we’ll see who’s write in a couple hundred years!

DNA Extraction from Strawberries!

Nov 18 - 1

At our session of¬†Sisters4Science on November 18th, the girls learned about DNA extraction! Joyce Pieretti from the University of Chicago joined us and told us about the things in our body that make us who we are. Unsurprisingly, our super smart group of girls already knew a lot about DNA! One of the girls, Gabby Perry, told us that DNA stands for “deoxyribonucleic acid”, while Bailey Fields let us know that DNA is basically the building blocks of our bodies. Who knew we were just like legos!

Nov 18 - 5

For the experiment, the girls were each given a strawberry to extract its DNA. ¬†Using soap, water, and salt the girls were able to filter the strawberries through coffee filters to get a solution that they would extract the DNA out of. The girls got to work with ethanol and learned some pipetting techniques, which are great skills to have if they ever want to work in a real lab! Nyssa Doss mentioned that pipetting is similar to sucking soda up a straw. However, we don’t want to mouth pipette the chemicals we use in lab, ladies!

At the end of the experiment, the girls noted that the final DNA product was much thicker than the original strawberry juice they got from the filtering! They allNov 18 - 4 had great ideas for why this happened, but Kiara Williams-Davis mentioned that it may have been because the ethanol changed the consistency of the material. Great guess, Kiara!

All in all, the girls had a great time and learned a lot about DNA. At the end of program we talked about other places that people could extract DNA from, and Joyce told them that DNA can be found almost anywhere in the body. How cool!