SciGirls Blog

What are campers up to this year at the MagLab-WFSU SciGirls Summer Camp? This blog provides daily updates about the fun field trips we take, the cool scientists we meet, and the hands-on experiments we conduct throughout the two-week schedule.

 

What a fantastic beach, marine, dolphin tail spinning day! Today, SciGirls 2 spent the day in Panama City! We started the day at St. Andrews State Park, and ended the day at Gulf World! Upon arrival at St. Andrews State Park, we did a nature hike, led by David Morris, Park Services Specialist, and Morgan Powell, Americorp and Non-Native Plant Specialist. We hiked Pine Flatwoods Trail, and along the way Morgan told us all about the plant communities, while David showed us all the old dunes. There were fresh water marshes, as well as sea marshes along the way, and we saw a dolphin! We encountered many native plants, such as Yopon Holly, Smooth and Saw Palmettos, Rosemary, Wax Myrtle, Button Bush, Dog Fennel, Woody Golden Rod, Scrub Oak. Some of these were quite tasty, some were spicy, and many of them are used in making different types of tea! We also saw some invasive plants, such as torpedo grass and popcorn pine. Morgan was explaining how he will spend some time today to try to cut out these invasives, but they are very hard to completely get rid of. Afterwards, we met with Leann Hinson, Assistant Park Ranger Manager. She discussed how she got involved in being a ranger and her day to day duties as a ranger. We then took a tram ride to Gator Lake (where we saw an alligator!) and to the Jetty to get a bit of “sand in our toes” time! Then, it was off to Gulf World we went! Upon arrival, we split up into smaller groups, and all got to enjoy a variety of marine animals, encounters, and time with marine professionals! We participated in a meet and greet with dolphins, where each girl got to kiss, shake, and play with the dolphins! We also took the opportunity to ask a bunch of questions to the dolphin trainers about how they learned to train, and how the dolphins learn! In addition to the meet and greet, we saw a variety of shows about cockatoos, African Grey parrots, sea lions, rough toothed dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, even alligators! 2 of our SciGirls got picked to go on stage! Aida got to practice training a parakeet, Maggie, and Ellen got kissed by a sea lion, Cooper! All of the animals at Gulf World are either rescued, donated, or born at Gulf World. Towards the end of our day, we met with Lauren Albrittain. She has a BS in Marine Science and a minor in Environmental Science. She is the Stranding Coordinator for Gulf World Marine Institute. She led a question and answer session about marine animal rescue and rehabilitation. Our girls got a special behind the scenes look at the sea turtle rescue area, where Lauren told us about each turtle. Several turtles were remaining from the 1200 turtles that were rescued during the two cold spells in northern Florida this winter. All in all, it was a splashtacular day!

 

What a fantastic beach, marine, dolphin tail spinning day! Today, SciGirls 2 spent the day in Panama City! We started the day at St. Andrews State Park, and ended the day at Gulf World! Upon arrival at St. Andrews State Park, we did a nature hike, led by David Morris, Park Services Specialist, and Morgan Powell, Americorp and Non-Native Plant Specialist. We hiked Pine Flatwoods Trail, and along the way Morgan told us all about the plant communities, while David showed us all the old dunes. There were fresh water marshes, as well as sea marshes along the way, and we saw a dolphin! We encountered many native plants, such as Yopon Holly, Smooth and Saw Palmettos, Rosemary, Wax Myrtle, Button Bush, Dog Fennel, Woody Golden Rod, Scrub Oak. Some of these were quite tasty, some were spicy, and many of them are used in making different types of tea! We also saw some invasive plants, such as torpedo grass and popcorn pine. Morgan was explaining how he will spend some time today to try to cut out these invasives, but they are very hard to completely get rid of. Afterwards, we met with Leann Hinson, Assistant Park Ranger Manager. She discussed how she got involved in being a ranger and her day to day duties as a ranger. We then took a tram ride to Gator Lake (where we saw an alligator!) and to the Jetty to get a bit of “sand in our toes” time! Then, it was off to Gulf World we went! Upon arrival, we split up into smaller groups, and all got to enjoy a variety of marine animals, encounters, and time with marine professionals! We participated in a meet and greet with dolphins, where each girl got to kiss, shake, and play with the dolphins! We also took the opportunity to ask a bunch of questions to the dolphin trainers about how they learned to train, and how the dolphins learn! In addition to the meet and greet, we saw a variety of shows about cockatoos, African Grey parrots, sea lions, rough toothed dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, even alligators! 2 of our SciGirls got picked to go on stage! Aida got to practice training a parakeet, Maggie, and Ellen got kissed by a sea lion, Cooper! All of the animals at Gulf World are either rescued, donated, or born at Gulf World. Towards the end of our day, we met with Lauren Albrittain. She has a BS in Marine Science and a minor in Environmental Science. She is the Stranding Coordinator for Gulf World Marine Institute. She led a question and answer session about marine animal rescue and rehabilitation. Our girls got a special behind the scenes look at the sea turtle rescue area, where Lauren told us about each turtle. Several turtles were remaining from the 1200 turtles that were rescued during the two cold spells in northern Florida this winter. All in all, it was a splashtacular day!

SciGirls1 2018 WakullaSpringsSciGirls1 2018 WakullaSprings

 

This morning we dove into a variety of STEM investigative simulations using the PBS NOVA labs. The SciGirls could choose which areas were most appealing to them and take on the role of the scientist behind the investigation. Some girls investigated the role of clouds in severe tropical storms. Others played the role of a molecular engineer solving RNA folding puzzles.We explored what makes the sun so volatile and used scientific data to design renewable energy systems for cities across the United States. Cyber Security was a popular topic as we attempted to defend a company being targeted by sophisticated cyber attacks. We also puzzled out the evolutionary relationship linking together a spectacular array of species in the evolution lab.

We spent the afternoon at Wakulla Springs, where the girls frolicked in the water, and some were even brave enough to take on the high dive. We were rained out for a bit, but many girls used that time to enjoy ice cream! On our jungle boat ride we were fortunate to see 24 alligators, 3 manatee, countless anhingas, Suwanee Cooter turtles, green herons, blue herons, yellow crowned night heron, tri-colored heron, snowy egrets, mullet, gallinule (formerly called moorhens) and many other species. Captain Bob navigated us down the Wakulla River, which moves 400,000 gallons of water per minute! Rain or shine, SciGirls always have a good time!

We'll kick off next week with an opportunity to make a connection between art and DNA as well a chemistry investigation with one of the coolest chemists around!

SciGirls at Attapulgite mineScigirls at Attapulgite mine

Day 4 of Sci Girls proved to be another amazing day. An overcast sky provided the perfect shade as we embarked on the Willacooche Attapulgite Mine with the crew from BASF. We were showered with gifts from BASF including stylish tie-dye shirts, wide rim hats, water bottles, back packs and sunscreen to help us in our fossil hunting adventure. We found countless shark teeth, manatee vertebrae, various animal bones, gastropods, shells and other treasures. As much fun as we had discovering fossils, we also learned about the mining process and all of the uses of the Attapulgite clay.

To continue the process, we left the mine and headed to the BASF site in Quincy. There, we enjoyed lunch with a panel of engineers working with BASF. These ladies shared their stories and gave us suggestions like: “Be good at what you do and love what you do. Ignore the negative people and do your best. You may have a (college) class you struggle with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t excel in that field. Never give up; just keep going.” One engineer told us she learned from every mistake she ever made and wouldn’t go back to “fix” them. After lunch, we took a tour of the facility which produces 200,000 TONS of Attapulgite product each year. The product is used in many household products like paint, cat litter, wall spackle, anti-diarrhea medicine, etc. We concluded our BASF visit with an engaging investigation where we simulated an oil spill clean-up.

Thank you, thank you to Walt Loomis, Blythe Lamonica and their team (Nathalie, Guy, Howard, Robin, Brenna, Carlos, Solaine, Molly, Mary Allen). We are grateful for the gifts of your time, energy and all the extras we were spoiled with! Stay tuned for Day 5 as we dig into STEM virtually and then hit the Springs!

SciGirls2 visit Novey Animal HospitalSciGirls2 visit Novey Animal Hospital

Today was another fun filled, educational day!! We started the day visiting Novey Animal Hospital, run by Dr. Patricia Novey. Her and her staff greeted us for a picture and we were off to learn all about the day to day behind the scenes of a veterinary hospital. SciGirls learned about heartworms and how to test blood for heartworms, tapeworms, and other parasites our pets can get if not prevented properly. The girls also watched some dental surgery, learned about social behaviors of dogs and cats, got a kennel tour, and saw x-rays of animals that had swallowed foreign objects. We also had a chance to look at the bacteria on our own hands from petri dishes collected on Monday, where some of our girls realized they could most definitely wash their hands better! We also learned about the reception area and wrapped everything up with an interactive game reviewing everything we had learned. Thanks so much to Dr. Novey and her staff for accommodating us once again. When we returned to the lab, we switch gears to forensics, when Kelly Walker, with the K9 Search and Rescue Team came to visit us. She gave a presentation about their work, how she was the first female canine team with LCSO, and eventually supervisor. She discussed how they train dogs to find living and deceased victims in the field. She discussed the Jacobs Organ, unique to dogs, and how it assists them in smelling traces. Then, Barb Whalen, another search and rescue volunteer, demonstrated how the dogs use scent by having her dog find our SciGirls volunteer, Julia. Then, Kelly brought out her dog, who is trained to find dead bodies and bones, and provided a demonstration using a humerus bone, that was hidden. Lastly, we switch over to optics, physics, geometry, measurement, and technology for a fun activity! Caila Deabreu, an REU (research experience for undergraduates) student, discussed her research, using electromagnetic stimulations. Then she led us in creating prisms that project holograms on our cell phones. Once our girls created their prisms, they were all over the room, sitting in the dark, enjoying the views. It was again, a fantastic day filled with so much science! Tomorrow, is a long day in Panama City! We will take a guided tour of St. Andrews State Park and visit Gulf World, where we will meet and greet with dolphins! Whew! So much fun!!

 SciGirls1 at Panama City

Today’s adventures took us to Panama City, where we enjoyed scientific amusement at Wonder Works. Although it may appear to be an upside down house, Wonder Works is much, much more. Bits of science trivia are scattered throughout the building and then there are the numerous, hands on activities. We created shadows that stayed put after we walked away, played with a bed of nails, explored larger than life bubbles, felt gravitational pull on various simulators, played piano with our feet, climbed a challenging zip line course, played laser tag and much, much more!

Our afternoon escapades began at Captain Anderson’s marina where we boarded a ferry departing for Shell Island. We were swarmed by sea gulls who were attracted by Cheetos on our voyage. The pristine Shell Island provided an oasis, beautiful sugar sand, cool water and a wonderful breeze. While some girls ventured out into the water with goggles, others searched for seashell treasures or played a game of Beach Quest. Many fish were spotted as well. On our way back to the marina we saw a pod of dolphins and a collection of marine life collected by the boat staff. All in all, it was a fantastic day. Tomorrow, we’ll get in tune with our geological/archaeological side as we head to an attapulgite mine.

SciGirls 2 and members of the TMH Animal Therapy staffSciGirls 2 and members of the TMH Animal Therapy staff

Day 3 was filled with so much fun, interactive, educational SCIENCE! From therapy animals to chemistry, we visited 4 different disciplines of science today! Our day started this morning with a visit from the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Animal Therapy group! Thank you to Heather Gainey, with dog, Brody, Stephanie Perkins, with dog, Starla, Natalie Jones, Sydney Hanselman (program coordinator), with dog, Lucke, Patty Mitchell, with dog, Sharon, Sharyn Yesner, with cockatoo, Rockie, and Annet Forkink, with dog, Benji, all for coming to the lab today. We started the morning with a brief overview of the therapy program. From helping struggling readers to criminal court cases and visits to the hospital, these animals help people in need feel better! Therapy animals help us to be less anxious, calmer, lowers blood pressure, increases oxytocin levels (the feel good hormone), and decreases cortisol (the stress hormone.) After learning about each pet and how they got into the therapy program, our scigirls enjoyed plenty of time to play and cuddle with each animal! From there, we dived into Astrophysics!! We had the opportunity to Skype with Jess Shanahan, who got an MS in astrophysics, and is currently working on her research on massive black holes. As we ate lunch, we had a question and answer session with Jess all about her research, how she got where she is today, and challenges along the way. We learned about black holes, how a lot of it is still a mystery, and she gave our girls some advice for the future in their science endeavors. Then, we moved into electricity and magnetism, with electrical engineering doctoral candidate and research assistant, Kikelomo Ijagbemi! Kike gave us a short presentation on magnets and the magnets housed here at the lab. We then got a hands on opportunity to build and investigate with electromagnets! Lastly, chemist, Amy McKenna visited us. She also discussed her journey in science and challenges she experienced along her way of receiving a doctoral degree in applied chemistry. She emphasized the fact that she struggled with math in school, and had to persevere and find her own way of learning that would work for her, encouraging our girls to never give up! Our girls were given an “oil spill” and were challenged to clean up their “ocean” with the least amount of supplies/cost. We even had time to dissolve M&M’s in different liquids learning about molecular characteristics. Whew! Today was action packed! Tomorrow, we visit an animal hospital, and see how K9 search and rescue dogs do their jobs!

SciGirls I 2018 Day 2SciGirls I camp visits Diverse Computing

Today’s adventures began at Tall Timbers Research Station as we used radio telemetry to track “quail” and learned more about the biodiversity hotspot with over 1,500 native species. Our knowledge of dendrochronology (how trees age) was expanded as we learned the effects of controlled burns on an ecosystem. Sadly, we also learned that the Southeast region used to boast over 93 million acres of pines and has dwindled to approximately 3 million acres of pines. Although we were unable to call in a bird to the mist net (used to catch and release birds for research purposes) we were excited to enjoy air-conditioned encounters with native critters. We met Otis the screech owl, an Eastern king snake, a gopher tortoise, tiger salamander and hognose snake. Thank you to Kim, Kaylyn, Dianna, Brad and Nathan for creating a memorable experience for us! From Tall Timbers, we embarked to the complete opposite side of town to get in touch with our techy sides! At Divers Computing, we used Wonder Workshop, along with the Blockley app and Darn&Dot robots to reach for the stars. Stars of constellations that is! Our group became two groups competing in challenge to program robots to accurately depict various constellations. SciGirls worked cooperatively on problem solving and both teams experienced success! Thank you so much to Desiree and team for hosting us in the midst of a crazy busy time! Stay tuned tomorrow as we get topsy turvy and go coastal!

Scigirls2 2018 visits FSU's Innovation HubScigirls2 2018 visits FSU's Innovation Hub

Today was an amazing SciGirls 2 day! We spent our day on the beautiful FSU campus and visited both the Herbarium and the Innovation Hub. We started our day at the Herbarium, with role model, Katie Pearson, MS in ecology and evolution. She’s been working at the Herbarium for 3 years, and has been the curator for 2 years. The Herbarium is basically an organized library of dried plants over hundreds of years old. The Herbarium is home to over 226, 000 specimens. Since opening in the 1960’s, it specializes with plants from Florida and southeastern U.S. Our girls were able to see how plant specimens are taken from the field, pressed, and then dried for 24 hours. After the plants are dried, they are glued, labeled and set aside for digitalization. After the Herbarium, we walked to the Innovation Hub, led by Castle Hill, Doctoral student. We started with a presentation about the history of 3D printing and the different types of 3D printers and their uses. 3D printing was actually patented by Chuck Hull, in 1984, when he printed an eye cup for an eye doctor. 3D printing is now used almost everywhere including with fashion. Fun fact…the queen’s costume in the movie, Black Panther, is mostly 3D printed! We then went to the computer lab, and using Tinkercad.com, we each created a 3D digital maker coin that Castle will 3D print and bring to us! We also get the opportunity to draw scientific illustrations that Castle will laser print on wooden coasters, keychains, or baggage tags as mementos! We ended the day with a tour of the entire Innovation Hub space, including the use of graphic computers, virtual reality headsets, sketching pads, ping pong, and all of the different types of 3D printers, some of which were in the middle of printing! We are so thankful to both Katie and Castle for our amazing diverse day of botany and STEAM exploration!

Scigirls1 2018 groupScigirls1 2018 group

SciGirls I 2018 has officially kicked off! We toured the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and enjoyed lunch with our annual Ladies of Science Luncheon. We are very grateful to these ladies for giving their time and sharing wonderful words of wisdom with us: Dr. Renee Gordon, Stem Program Director at TCC; Dr. Christianne Beekman, MagLab Assistant Professor working in condensed matter physics; Roxanne Simpson, Program Director for FSU SSS-STEM; Dr. Adrienne Stephenson, Assistant Director of FSU grad school; Dr. Julia Smith, physicist at the MagLab; and Dr. Patricia Novey of Novey Animal Hospital.

These nuggets of wisdom were shared with us during today’s luncheon: After being the only female in her classes, Dr. Gordon suggested you find something in common with classmates to find a way to join in conversations and work together. Dr. Smith started out as one of five ladies in a class of 100. By graduation, there were five ladies out of twenty students remaining! She made it a point to be part of the larger group, not just a member of the female group. Dr. Novey was excited to be a member of her class with 51% women. Although she was treated inappropriately during interviews, Dr. Novey focused on working in places where she was respected. Dr. Stephenson emphasized that being a diverse member of a group is not a bad thing. She reminded us that your differences make you unique and enhance the environment you’re in. Ms. Simpson told us she had to overcome the expectation that she should not work as hard as male counterparts in her career. She told us to remember, “Your goals are your goals, for your reasons.” Dr. Beekman encouraged us with her advice, “If you know what you want to do, just go for it!”

Although our afternoon plans for Water Moves were altered due to inclement weather, we had a blast getting to know each other with some fun games. We’re excited to trek to Tall Timbers and Diverse Computing tomorrow!