SciGirls 1 2018 stairsSciGirls 1 2018 stairs

Chef Paula and her Fresh From Florida team hosted us this morning with a delicious, engaging culinary science experience. We were reminded of the differences between physical and chemical changes, acids and bases, as well as fruits and vegetables (hint: it’s all about the seeds!) Chef Paula encouraged us to be good tasters, being willing to taste new things or things we’ve tried before previously but didn’t enjoy. Since our taste buds can change, it can often take 10 to 15 tastes of the same item to develop a taste for it. Our SciGirls were certainly good tasters as they devoured southwestern scrambled eggs, fresh garden salsa and watermelon pizza. We also learned about free radicals and the importance of fresh produce rich in nutrition, like Vitamins A, C, and K.  “Eating the rainbow” can help with this. Chef Paula’s group gifted us with a bag of kitchen gear to help us carry over the lessons we learned today.

This afternoon Roxanne Simpson, director of FSU-STEM returned to challenge us with a variety of STEM activities. Groups traveled through four different stations and worked collaboratively. One station required the girls to solve and create riddles. Another “eggcellent” station had teams create a device for transporting eggs safely from various heights. Teams also had to figure out how to cut an index card so that it stays connected but has an opening large enough for a person to walk through it. One group made one large enough for the whole group to fit inside the index card! The last station was the tower station where we designed and constructed the strongest and tallest tower possible using dry spaghetti noodles and marshmallows. We definitely have future engineers in our group!

We are so sad that tomorrow is our final day of SciGirls 2018. As we conclude our time together we will DIG into archaeology and prepare to celebrate our wonderful two week experience.

SciGirls 2 with Jack Rudloe, founder and owner of Gulf Specimen Marine LabSciGirls 2 with Jack Rudloe, founder and owner of Gulf Specimen Marine Lab

What a “Turtletastic” Thursday!!! Today we went to Panacea, FL and spent the day at the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab. We were greeted by our tour guide, Leslie Breland and intern, Anthony. Leslie first took us to the touch tanks and inside the lab. We touched and played with crabs, starfish, anemones, sea cucumbers, urchins and so many more small critters! After a visit with some nurse sharks and sea bass, we then went into a special behind the scenes quarantined room to see 2 Kemp’s Ridley turtles that were being released later in the day. (More on that later!) We then continued through the lab and saw some jellies, ctenophores, corals, fiddler crabs (my personal favorite,) logger head sea turtles, blue crabs, and horseshoe crabs. Whew! After our lab tour, we went to the “Living Dock.” At the dock our girls picked up stringers, looking for critters! We found teeny tiny crabs, sea squirts, and jellies! We talked about estuaries and their relevance, salt marshes and their communities, including plants and animals found in them. We then went to the marsh and went seine net fishing! We found silver sided fish, pin fish, pipe fish, crabs, and more hermit crabs! All of this led us to the most exciting part of our day! We went to Shell Point to observe the releasing of the 2 Kemp’s Ridley turtles we saw earlier in quarantine. Their names are Weezer and Renegade. As we were waiting for the release to occur, we were invited by a staff member to assist in the release of both turtles! We immediately accepted! We got to take pictures with Jack Rudloe, the founder and owner of Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, the staff and the volunteers/interns, and both turtles! Then we followed Jack, while he was holding the turtles (one at a time) down into the ocean where they were released back into the wild. We may even get a spot on the news tonight at 5:30 or 11:00 on WTXL/ABC News. All in all it was a day we all will never forget and an amazing opportunity our girls will be talking about for years to come! We can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of camp for summer 2018!

SciGirls1 2018 wfsuSciGirls1 2018 wfsu

Day 8 of SciGirls took us to WFSU to learn about radio and television production.  After a tour of the WFSU station and collection of antique radio/television equipment, we took turns participating in various roles. Several girls interviewed each other for a radio broadcast which will air on WFSU in the near future. Other girls worked on a television news broadcast. Some of the tasks performed were: script writing, camera operating, control room operators, graphic design and news anchors/reporting. We have a new appreciation for a news broadcast; there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye

After lunch, we met with female engineers from EGS who work, or have worked in the following areas: civil engineering, geophysical engineering, geotechnical engineering and environmental engineering. After going on a virtual roller coaster ride we learned about the necessary requirements for successful roller coasters. Together in teams, SciGirls planned, designed and created roller coasters with a minimum of two hops, two hills and a jump. Our engineers complimented the SciGirls group on their amazing, “epic” roller coaster design skills!

Tomorrow will be a tasty day! As we’ve learned, science is all around us, even in a kitchen!

Scigirls 1 2018 FCIMScigirls 1 2018 FCIM

We can’t believe we’re already up to Day 7 of SciGirls! Time flies when you’re having fun! We began our day with Claudia Miller, a nurse for BASF. She taught us the basics of hands only CPR. Our girls have mastered chest compressions and are ready to step up and help out when needed.

After the CPR lesson, we finished sharing our research on women in science. We focused on the accomplishments of women and also the challenges they faced. Dr. Roxanne Hughes, SciGirls camp director, facilitated this discussion. We were so impressed by the effort our girls put forth in their research and the insightful comments they made during our discussion.

We ventured over to the nearby WFSU station for our next encounter. Tasha Weinstein and her team hosted us for Water Moves, an engaging activity where we collaborated to move water from one large body of water to smaller buckets. Our girls solved puzzles to earn tokens, which were cashed in for a variety of tools used to transport water. SciGirls were certainly creative in their problem solving!

Finally, we spent our afternoon at FCIM (Florida Center for Interactive Media). Andrew Dennard and his team (Cody, Chelsea, Drew, Gillian, Steve and Sebastian) walked us through the steps of creating an app. We recorded voices, designed levels of the game, played with Garage Band to create music and eventually spent time playing the Quest to Quench game we created.  You can play our game at

Tomorrow we’ll put our news production and engineering skills to the test!

SciGirls II at Florida Center for Interactive MediaSciGirls II at Florida Center for Interactive Media

Today was a “tech”tacular Tuesday day!! From The Florida Center for Interactive Media (FCIM) to Challenger Robotics, it was a fun, technological experience! Our day started at FCIM, where Andrew Denard and his staff were waiting to give SciGirls another interactive activity for this summer! As always, FCIM never disappoints, and our girls created a game! Our girls were split into groups of three that rotated. One rotation worked on the graphics behind the game, with Jillian. Another rotation, working with Sebastian and Chelsea, made photos in front of a green screen and recorded sounds used in the game. This rotation also got to explore with the music in the game, using the program, Garage Band. The last rotation actually made the mazes in the game using simple pattern blocks, then translated them into code. When all this was put together, the girls got to play their game, and it’s very challenging, in true SciGirls fashion! To play the game, simply go to From there, we went back to the Maglab for lunch, and awaited the arrival of Jana and Jess from the Challenger Learning Center. Jana is a teacher at Leon High School, Jess is an undergraduate at FSU studying Environmental Science. Jana and Jess started with a brief power point highlighting the history of the Challenger Learning Centers, robots and their uses, and highlighting some women in robotics! This was truly interesting to us and our SciGirls mission to learn about Helen Chan Wolf, who helped to create Shakey, one of the first robots to use AI, Neha Chaudhry, who created a robotic walking stick, and Ayorkor Korsah, who has a PhD in Robotics and AI and co-founded the African Robotics Network. Then, using EV3 Mindstorms, SciGirls worked with building and programming robots! Each group of girls built a robot and then learned to program it, starting with an easy task and graduating to harder, more challenging tasks! All in all, it was a “tech”sational day!

SciGirls I paint DNASciGirls I paint DNA

What do art and science have in common? Well, today we found out they have a lot more in common than we thought. We started our day with two ladies who were on our Ladies in Science panel last week, Dr. Stephenson and Dr. Gordon. Kylie from LeMoyne and Khadijah Weathers, an instructor at FAMU, along with a crew of volunteers from the FSU DREAM program also joined us to help make a connection between science and art. We learned about deoxyribonucleic acid, also known as DNA and how it is our individual “blueprint.” Just like our DNA, our paintings of DNA were all different. Capturing a scientific concept in an artistic way turned out to be a fun time for all!

We spent our afternoon with Dr. Amy McKenna, a chemist here at the Mag Lab. She taught us about molecules being two or more atoms. We learned that those molecules can be hydrophobic, loving water or they can be hydrophilic, loving oil. Other substances partly “like” water and partly “like” oil. These are called surfactants. We used liquid dish soap to demonstrate how surfactants work in different liquids (skim milk, whole milk and half and half). The results were stunningly beautiful, colorful creations.  All in all, today we learned not only is science cool and interesting, it can also be beautiful! We also started working on our research of women in science. Stay tuned tomorrow for more SciGirls adventures as we learn life-saving skills, apply engineering skills in a wet setting and get a little techy!

SciGirls2 visit the Florida State Caverns in Marianna, FLSciGirls2 visit the Florida State Caverns in Marianna, FL

Today was a “mine”blowing day!! We spent our day in Marianna, FL, first at Florida Caverns State Park, and then Blue Springs State Park. At the caverns, we first completed a nature hike, called the Beech Magnolia Trail. Our SciGirls brought along their scavenger hunts and wildlife guides to look for native plants throughout the trail. We found many plants, such as cabbage palm, white oak, lichens, ferns, saw palmetto, champion tree, American Beech, and so many more! We filled up much of the plant area of our scavenger hunts! Then, we took a tour of a cave that was found in 1937, by Oliver Chalifeaux, of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC.) We were led b y Park Ranger, Cassie Brown. She gave us lots of history and science as we were led through the caverns. We were walking on what used to be ocean floor, so there were many fossils throughout, such as sea shells, sea urchins, and coral. The colors of the caverns are all due to minerals throughout, like calcite, iron, manganese, and a green coloring which was algae, since the caverns stay at about 100% humidity, with a constant 65 degree temperature year round. Cassie told us all about the stalactites (hang tight from the ceiling) and the stalagmites (you might trip over), as well as “soda straws,” baby stalactites, and columns, when stalagmites and stalactites meet. Interestingly, there were a few columns that had fractures. This, we learned, is due to the fact that we were standing over an aquifer. As the aquifer gets filled up with rain, and then drained by wells over and over again, it causes shifts in the ground of the cave, creating fractures in the columns. There were also trenches in the ground we were walking on, caused by carbonic acid, when water mixes with carbon dioxide and then drips down from “soda straws.” The caverns tour is always such a wonderful experience for our scigirls, and this year was no different! From the caves, we traveled about 20 minutes down the road to Blue Springs State Park! We started with a nice picnic lunch, and then hit the canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats for some adventurous fun on the spring! Along our paddling adventures, we stopped at a couple of cave diving holes, swam around, and looked for turtles, small fresh water fish, and ibis. Our pedal boat girls quickly realized that in order to make their boat move, they had to collaborate and work together!! Once we got back to the docks, we had some free time to swim, play, dive, and slide in the beautiful spring water! No trip to Marianna is complete without a stop at SciGirls’ favorite froyo joint, Milk and Honey! All in all, it was a wonderful day full of learning fun!

SciGirls 2 campers enjoyed their Gulf World experienceSciGirls 2 campers enjoyed their Gulf World experience

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!

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!!

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