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.”

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!

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!