SciGirls1 2017 coding

These girls mastered the art of coding today!

What’s one way to begin a SciGirls I morning?  Try tracking a “quail” using radio telemetry in the Red Hills.  Luckily, after much searching, all five teams were able to recover their “quail” trackers.  The Red Hills area is a biodiversity hotspot of The North American Coastal Plain.  Part of the classification of this unique research site is the fact that over 1,500 plants are endemic to this area, and unfortunately over 70 percent of the habitat is lost.  This longleaf ecosystem is considered a portion of the 3 million acres that remain of this pine savannah, which was previously as large as 90 million acres.  To continue the SciGirls tradition (with a bit of a twist), a peewee was tagged and given the official SciGirls name of “Kiwi the Peewee”.  We also enjoyed the call of the red cockaded woodpecker that is native to Florida and a federally endangered species.  Saying so long to the timbers that cover the land, we then headed in to enjoy lunch and a small critter show-and-tell.  That’s right…. Bring in the Eastern kingsnake, the gopher tortoise, the tiger salamander, the pine snake, and the baby gopher tortoise.  A huge thank you goes to Kim, Brian, Diana, Jim, Mary Mac, Heather, Kaylyn, and a morning rain for making our trip to the Tall Timbers Research Station unforgettable!

If you think the morning recap was something, let’s talk about our amazing afternoon.  We traveled to Diverse Computing, where Miss Desiree and Mr. Noah created an obstacle course entitled “A Series of Unfortunate Events”.  This activity required two teams to input a series of codes and functions to move a Dash Robot with fluidity through coordinated efforts involving team input.  We had to determine distance, figure out speed, and regulate the number of times to use each action.  This was an unexpected but extremely fun activity in cooperative learning that incorporated all aspects of S.T.E.M.  Nothing compares to a SciGirls extreme challenge – and this it was.  Congrats to the 7thplus1 Team.  As our day drew to an end, our gears continue to turn as we get ready to pack up and hit the road in the AM.  What do an upside down building and a boat have in common? Only one way to find out!!!!

SciGirls2 2017 at the Tallahassee Museum

Two SciGirl Campers up in the trees!

Wow, what a day! SciGirls II conquered the Tree to Tree Adventure at the Tallahassee Museum! 

Despite nerves and anxiety, our SciGirls did an amazing job today! It's always so wonderful to hear our campers cheering each other on and giving words of encouragement, while facing fears! All in all, the course took a total of four hours. One SciGirl said, while up in the trees, "It's so beautiful up here!" It was amazing to soar over trees, a lake, deer, turkeys, and so much more! 

Once we finished the Tree to Tree course, we fed our appetites! Then, it was off to see all the animals! From wolves to foxes, turkeys to bald eagles, bobcats to panthers, we saw it all! We even went over to the farm area and visited the sheep, horses, cow, and goats! One of our girls had a special bond with a horse! Our girls were enthusiastic to check off many different species of plants and land animals on their scavenger hunt! 

Tomorrow is another fun-filled day, as we head off to Panama City to Gulf World! Marine Animals, here we come!

SciGirls I 2017 day1 group photo

SciGirls I 2017 is underway!

Yes! The moment you’ve been waiting for…. Welcome to the new blog for SciGirls I Tallahassee.  Not only is this a new site, but today was also the first day of SciGirls I 2017.  That’s right – check in here for information on the daily experiences of this group of dynamic campers for the next two weeks.  From making new friends to engaging in hands-on learning opportunities, this camp will be anything but boring.  Our motto this year will be FUN + LEARNING = SCIGIRLS Rock!

As stated previously, today was the first day the girls had a chance to receive official MagLab badges, tour the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, and begin making new friends.  A big thank you goes out to the following guest “Ladies of Science” who joined us for an AWESOME luncheon:  Wendi Cannon, Director of IT @ FSU College of Medicine; Dr. Christianne Beekman, Physicist; Dr. Asha Brewer, Chiropractor/Wellness Educator; Alissa McShane, UberOps; Dr. Sandra Brooke, FSU Coastal and Marine Lab; Dr. Amy Boca-Taylor, Ocean, Air, and Atmospheric Sciences (FSU); and Mika McKinnon, who joined us via teleconference from Vancouver, British Columbia.  After hearing the extensive journeys of this group of ladies, we then took a walk to WFSU to engage in the “Water Moves” activity that encourages teamwork, strategy, and patience.  Oh yes, the game seemed simple at first, but how would you like to try to transport water from a kiddie pool to a bucket with only a pool noodle, sand bucket, or water balloon? Did I forget to mention that you have to stand 2 feet away from the pool to retrieve the water and 6 feet away to deposit the water?  Go figure…. But hey, that’s what we did (some better than others).  Congrats to the Yellow Team for earning the victory.  Maybe everyone didn’t win, but at least playing with water was a fun way to beat the heat and humidity of a Tallahassee afternoon.  And guess what, this was just Day One: tomorrow brings challenges of its own.  SciGirls I….. Are You Ready??????

This is a first day group shot of SciGirls 2 2017.

SciGirls 2 2017 has officially begun! Today was a great first day!

Our day started with a bit of logisitics, as our girls went through a safety training for the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. From there, we all received our badges to become official MagLab campers. After our girls conducted their beginning of camp survey, it was time for the fun!

A physics student here at the MagLab, Haley Reid, gave us a grand tour of the MagLab. She toured us around the lab, including the magnet shop, where they build some of the world's strongest magnets. Some can take as long as eight years to build. There is a new magnet being built now at the lab, and when it is finished, it will be another world record. She then took us to the most powerful magnet in the world, housed here at our very own MagLab!

Once our tour was complete, it was time for our "Ladies in Science Luncheon!" Thanks so much to SciGirls I teacher, Toyka Holden, for organizing such a fine event. Our girls were able to sit with female scientists and ask questions about their professions. We were even able to teleconference with a science writer/consultant, who has actually worked in Hollywood with projects such as, Stargate Atlantis, Star Trek, and possibly even Sharknado! This really got our girls excited about the different fields of science.

When lunch was over, we walked over to WFSU for the Water Moves game! This is a unique game where our girls have to work together as teams to get water from a pool to a bucket, and face many challenges along the way. It was a great, wet time!

Finally, we ended our day with Jennifer Jones, the manager at Novey Animal Clinic. She took cultures on agar of our girls' fingers, after washing. We will see the results of these cultures on Thursday when we visit the clinic!

All in all, day 1 was fantastic! Tomorrow, we will be soaring through the trees as we take on the full zip line course at the Tallahassee Museum Tree to Tree adventure!

Two MagLab personnel worked with Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College students during the 2017 spring semester as part of the FSU Noyce Program.

Computer science is the science of choice for campers in SciGirls Coding Camp. This is one week when we want our campers' eyes on the screen.

In July 2016, eight middle and high school girls attended the SciGirls Coding Camp, which introduced them to single-board computers called Raspberry Pi.

This week at the lab, 46 girls are just having fun with science!

Held just a few weeks after the co-ed MagLab Summer Camp, SciGirls provides an alternatively all-female setting for girls in grades 5-8 to experience science. The campers hear from role models and mentors in STEM fields and take part in dynamic, hands-on activities that explore biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, forensic science and meteorology.

"By having these young ladies involved in a wide range of science experiences, the MagLab hopes to build a foundation of interest in science at a critical time in their educational development," explains camp coordinator, Carlos Villa. "SciGirls Summer Camp gives them the confidence to attempt and succeed in higher level science and math courses in middle and high school. Ultimately, we hope they continue on to amazing accomplishments in science careers."

SciGirls is held in partnership with WFSU, and more than 300 girls have participated in the program since launching in 2006. A recent study of a group of former SciGirls showed that half went on to major in a STEM field.

Follow along with the campers by watching video diaries and reading journals uploaded each day to the SciGirls blog.

Image Gallery

View this photo set on Flickr


Text by Kristin Roberts. Photo by Stephen Bilenky.

This week at the lab, girls are sitting down in front of a bunch credit-card sized computers to claim their rightful share of the coding pi.

That's "pi" as in Raspberry Pi, the name of the single-board computers these middle and high school girls will be using to learn programming. Over the course of a one-week camp, the students could help reverse a troubling trend: Their slice of the growing pie of well-paid computer science jobs has been steadily shrinking because fewer and fewer women study or work in the field.

The statistics have bothered Roxanne Hughes for some time. As director of the MagLab's Center for Integrating Research and Learning, she works to encourage women and underrepresented minorities in the sciences. While those numbers have been inching up in most categories, for women in computer science they're in a decades-long slump.

But this week's camp may help that downward-sloping line bounce back up in coming years. Each girl each will receive a computer, some instruction, lots of encouragement, and free reign to explore and create.

"Do you want it to say, ‘Good morning, how are you doing today?' when you turn your computer on?" suggested Sandie Chavez, who is co-teaching the camp. "You can do that. Let's show you how to do that."

Chavez has offered this experience before through Creators Camp, an organization she co-founded. Fear often comes between girls and computer science, she said: This camp destroys that boundary. "What we want to do is take that intimidation factor out of this male-dominated career path," she said, "and to say, ‘Ladies, we're about to have so much fun.'"

The profession's nerdy, quirky image is another boundary, said Hughes: Unfortunately, girls put off by the stereotype will be at a disadvantage in the sciences and many other fields, she added, where the ability to code is becoming increasingly important.

"The more we can get girls in safe spaces to explore gaming, coding and what they can do with computers," said Hughes, "the more likely they are to recognize the positive benefits of computing, have an interest in computing and be more motivated in getting involved in computing as a career."


Photo and text by Kristen Coyne.

MagLab educators taught lessons in electricity and magnetism at the 4th USA Science and Engineering Festival.

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