Woodson Girls Build Paper Helicopters!

On March 21, 2014, STEM facilitator, Tolu Rosanwo walked into her Sisters4Science classroom to find this note on the board:



6th grader, Ashanta Dean left a cheery note on the board and helped set the stage for an afternoon exploring aerodynamics! Ashanta and Brianna Marte had both earned two badges thus far, and that day they were presented with their 3rd digital badge: “Discover: Builiding Models.” The criteria for obtaining the badge was to create a model that relates to an idea or concept and use that model to describe that idea/concept. That day, the girls were to build paper helicopters and see how changes in their mass and propeller length would impact the time it took for them to fall to the ground/twirling motion.


Ashanta gives examples of models on the board

Before building paper helicopters, Tolu decided to give the girls a brief physics lesson on “free fall” and air resistance. She took a piece of paper and a bag of animal crackers and explained that two objects. She told the girls that no matter their mas they should fall to the earth at the same time since the only force working on a free-falling object is the force of gravity. When Tolu had Brianna and Ashanta drop the two objects at the same time, they had difficulty believing her because the animal crackers fell to the ground first! The explanation? Air resistance!


Brianna drops a paper and Ashanta, a bag of animal crackers to the ground

Then, Tolu took two sheets of paper of the same size, and crumpled one up into a ball while leaving the other perfectly flat. When she asked the girls which one would fall first even though the are the same weight, Brianna said, “The balled up one.” Why? Ashanta said, “More of its weight is in the middle.” What physicists we have! The girls dropped the pieces of paper and their hypothesis was correct! More than before, they recognized air resistance to be a force to be reckoned with! After so much thinking, they all had a “Brain Break,” which is part of an initiative to get kids moving in the classroom.


Brain Break! 4 Minute Dance Party to Jungle Boogie

After the Brain Break, the girls dove into building their paper helicopter models. They folded them as indicated on the sheets of paper and tested how folding the paper in different ways and adding paper clips would change how long it took them to fall to the ground and how quickly they would rotate in the air.


Ashanta and Brianna make model helicopters

Like any good scientists, Ashanta and Brianna also recorded their observations.



Using their observations, they built two more helicopters: one that would take the longest to fall, and the other with the shortest fall-time.


Brianna dropping one of her helicopters

The girls found that an unfolded piece of paper took longer time to fall (with much less rotation) than a folded helicopter with a paper clip at its base.

As the day came to the end, the girls were informed that they certainly met the criteria to receive their third digital badge! In addition, they received Mae Jemison’s 100 Year Starship! This book was generously provided by Stories From Cory, an initiative that provides free books to under-resourced classrooms. Jemison as a role model has been a theme for the Woodson Girls this year, and it is only fitting that they get her book when they build models of their own.

Tolu Rosanwo


Showing off their books!




Mae Jemison and the Solar System

Last week in Sisters4Science at Reavis, we learned about Dr. Mae Jemison.

First, we talked about what role models are (“Someone you look up to,” according to Kemonte). The girls shared their role models with everyone; both Alita and Tayla look up to their older sisters as role models!
Then, we learned about the life of Dr. Mae Jemison. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to go into space. Each of the girls got a book–The 100 Year Starship–and we read about Jemison’s plans to create a starship that can travel outside of our solar system!
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We discussed how Jemison may be considered a role model for us, and looked to some quotes of hers for inspiration. Mahogany explained that you shouldn’t let other people bring you down after reading this quote from Jemison: “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations…You can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself.” When we talked about the meaning of this quote by Mae Jemison–“The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up”–Tayla explained that you have to work to make your dreams come true, and you can’t just expect them to happen on their own. Then, Tayla brought up another quote she had heard before–“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard”–because she thought they both had the same message. This was a very impressive analysis of Mae Jemison’s ideas!
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The girls wanted to talk a little more about the solar system, so they each went to the board and drew out a model of the solar system, wrote the names of the planets, and discussed how big the universe might actually be and whether aliens might exist. Since different planets take a different amount of time to orbit the sun, a “year” is a different number of days, so we all calculated our “age” on other planets. On Mercury, our Sisters are 54 years old!
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Woodson Girls “Make Light” and Gear Up for the Reflection of Knowledge

By Tolu

All the girls are back December 6, 2013 for an exciting lesson on fluorescence! We started the day with a brief lecture and discussion on what the girls thought light was. Some thought it was heat, others said it comes from the sun and is a wave.Woodson1

            After learning about light’s ability to excite electrons, the girls performed an experiment that would generate light emission. Since safety comes first, the girls (left to right: Ashanta, Ciera, Stephanee, Brianna, and Desiree) put on their goggles (and of course) posed for the camera!


Tolu broke the girls up into teams and had After mixing chemical compounds together for a brief reaction.


They turned off the lights and saw something spectacular: blue light!














For the second half of the day, the girls prepared for the Sisters4Science Reflection of Knowledge the following week on December 13. Tolu lead the girls in their own individual reflection on what they had learned in the past 5 weeks.  The girl listed Mae C. Jemison, planets, atoms, bridges, and the differences between states, continents and countries.


After writing their thoughts on the board, the girls decided to write a poem about their experiences this quarter. (ON THEIR OWN with no help from Tolu).

 They wrote:

This is what we what we learned in Sisters4Science.

Learned about planets and how not be liars.

We all have a code called, “Trust and Believe.”

We talked about atoms.

Not Adam and Eve.

We learned how to make light out of lots of little things.

Dissected owl pellets and dissected a lot of things.

We have a nice teacher named, Ms. Tolu who helped with all these things.

And most of all, we learned that Science can be a girl thing!




























Happy Holidays from Sisters4Science. We will be back next year!


WEEK 2: Exploring Space and Role Models at Woodson

By Tolu

This week we have a smaller group of girls but a young, new addition—6th grader, Ashanta (red sweatshirt)!


After hearing the girls describe their role models in the last session, STEM Facillitator, Tolu, decided to bring in one of her own to discus—astronaut and physician, Mae C. Jemison, the first African American woman in Space. None of the sisters had heard of Jemison before so Tolu gave a quick biographical sketch of Jemison’s life and career. Then, the students talked about what they admired about Jemison. Some said she was “smart.” Others said she  “went after her dreams.”


Afterwards, we dove into a lesson on basic geography, Galileo, Copernicus, and the solar system. We also used a little bit of math to calculate the ages of some of the girls on different planets since the time to revolve around the sun differs on each one.

The girls clearly love math, pulling out their scratch paper to eagerly calculate their ages.


Ashanta (6th Grade) is approximately 40 years old on Venus. Stephanee (7th Grade) is 22 on Venus and Briana (7th Grade) is 6 on Mars. All of them insist that boys, however, are from Jupiter!

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At the end of the day, the girls all posed with their National Geographic books on space exploration. Although some (Ashanta) are certain they do not want to become astronauts (especially after seeing Gravity) the girls had found a new role model in Mae Jemison. During our journal time, Briana wrote, “I used to think Mars was the 3rd furthest from the sun. I know its Earth now.”