Research on MagLab science camp yields a framework for better understanding how to encourage girls and underrepresented minorities in STEM's most male-dominated field.
So many scientists today! We started bright and early with a Skype visit from Dr. Aavidai Swamy of FAMU and an in-person visit from her graduate students, Anjali Sharma and Deepa Raveendranpillai. Dr. Swamy shared her research on climate and environmental change and encourage our girls to think about how their interests can have a positive impact on the world. We then used playdough and banana leaves to model topography and hydrology, and saw 3D-printed models of agricultural fields and drainage ditches that can help curtail agricultural runoff.
Emma Martin of FSU Engineering and the MagLab came to visit and led us in an engineering challenge. Girls worked in teams to build towers out of tape and index cards working within budget and time constraints. After our challenge, Emma shared with us her experiences a woman in engineering and encouraged our girls to be confident and take risks.
After lunch we took a trip to FSU’s Biology Department and met with Dr. Hank Bass, Juan Reza, and Katherine Easterling. Juan shared with us his research on plant growth and reminded us how exciting science (of any kind) can be. Dr. Bass taught us about Zea mays and mutant corn and gave us each a copy of his book Crazy Lazy Corn. Afterwards we drove out to Dr. Bass’ research fields and greenhouses and we learned how to make crosses and how to pollinate ears of corn. Some of us left with popcorn souvenirs!
We returned to the MagLab with our heads full of ideas and excitement!
Today was a fun filled, challenging day! We started the day with help from Kikelomo Ijagbemi, a doctoral student in electrical engineering. She gave us a quick lesson on circuits before we dove into "High Tech Fashion!" For the next few hours, girls constructed fabric bracelets with LED lights! Our girls got to try their hands on engineering, physics, and sewing all at the same time! It was a challenge, but we stuck to it and most of our girls created beautiful lit bracelets!
After lunch, we played the Microscopy Game! Our girls competed in groups to see who could figure out the different types of food under microscopic magnification. It was a fun time before our next activity!
Afterwards, PhD student, Alyssa Henderson, came in to show us how to make and grow crystals! Our girls used Borax, water, and pipe cleaners to make crystals! Our crystals will be growing throughout the week and we'll get to take them home on Friday! After our crystal making, Alyssa took us on a tour of her area of the MagLab, the Condensed Matter Facility. It was so cool to see where crystals are grown, x-rayed, and used in experiments.
From there, we went downstairs in the MagLab to take tours of both the 3D Printing Facility and the Machine Shop! It's really cool to take both these tours back to back, as the machine shop takes huge pieces of metals and other materials, and dwindles them down to usable pieces for the lab to use, while the 3D printers are opposite, and start with nothing to create almost anything!
All in all, it was a wonderful day! We are looking forward to tomorrow at the Florida Center for Integrated Media, and chemistry with Dr. Amy McKenna!
We had a full day at the MagLab today! We started off with an informative tour of the facilities with our mentors, Kari Roberts and Jennifer Neu, both from the MagLab. We were thrilled by the giant magnets and amazing facilities here at the lab. Afterwards we analyzed the color distributions in M&M bags with Kari, and we were on the edge of our seats! It turns out colors are not equally represented in milk vs. dark chocolate M&Ms! We squeezed in a little research time for our Mars colonization project before lunch and started to envision what our Martian habitats might look like. Castle Kim from FSU’s Innovation Hub came to visit after lunch to introduce us to the magic of 3D printing and computer aided design, and left us with some cute “flexi-rexi” 3D-printed dinosaurs. We wrapped up circling back to our projects to finish out the day.
Today was day 1 of SciGirls Discover Camp! With a fresh new vibe, SciGirls is at it again this summer, exploring all areas of STEM and diving deeper into STEM careers! Today was a fun filled day!
We started the day with our safety trainings here at the MagLab, then off to become official by getting our MagLab badges! From there we played a getting to know you game, and found out some really funny, but interesting, facts about each other!
Afterwards, we went on the DC Tour here at the MagLab, guided by Dr. Julia Smith! Our SciGirls were so interested, they asked so many questions! Dr. Smith was so impressed by our girls’ inquisitive behavior! Dr. Smith walked us around the entire DC field facility, highlighting the MagLab’s 45 Tesla Magnet!
After our tour, we ate lunch, and then we got to explore making circuits with Playdoh! Yep, Playdoh is conductive!! Our SciGirls made all sorts of creatures, cars, planes, flowers, and even UFOs, that all lit up, or buzzed, or had a fan blowing! After making Playdoh creatures, it was time for STEM Skilltastics! This game got our girls up and active, while answering STEM trivia questions! The girls had so much fun!
We ended the day figuring out the secret of the Fortune Teller Fish, and then naming our Flying Pig! Please ask your SciGirl about these fun activities!
Tomorrow will be a fun day as we explore crystals, high tech fashion bracelets, microscopy, and so much more!!
SciGirls Quest is off to an exciting start after a fun-filled first day! Our amazing girls had the chance to get to know each other today, participate in a little team building, and get ready for our adventures over the next two weeks. In addition to all of our start-of-camp business, we rolled out the camp research project, Mission to Mars: Designing a Sustainable Colony of the Red Planet. Our girls will be working in teams to research Mars and, together with their experiences over the next few weeks, they will design a self-sustaining colony for future Mars settlers, some of which may come from this very group of girls! We had a visit from Steffanie Sillitoe-Kukas of FSU and the MagLab who is researching Mars’ geology through meteorites. We also met with Kim Kelling and Suzanne Smith of WFSU who will be helping our girls to communicate scientific research to the world. Looking forward to the next two weeks!
The last day of camp (super sad face.) Today was a bittersweet day, as we wrapped up an amazing two weeks of scientific fun! This morning, our girls were challenged to create posters displaying either what they aspire to be when they grow up in science, or which career covered over the past two weeks they were inspired by the most. From there, the displays gave a definition of the career, and steps needed to be taken from now until then to achieve that career. Our girls were blown away when they started their research, but quickly discovered that with some work, they can achieve anything they want to, as long as they try, and never give up! Of course, we had to have just one more visit on this last day from women in science. The Southeast Archeological Center with the National Park Service, led by Alexandra Parsons and her staff, came to give a presentation and hands on activity all about the science behind archaeology. The presentation dove into what archeologists do at sites, how they use chemistry to identify residue, math to identify ages and diet eaten, statistical analysis, and the use of ground penetrating radar to image what is below the ground surface. The ladies explained the excavation process, stratigraphy (the layers of soil that make up an archeological site,) seriation, dendrochronology (tree ring dating,) radiocarbon dating, and osteology. From there, the girls split into three rotations where they got to get a hands on experience with the SEAS women. One station focused on stratigraphy and seriation, where girls had to determine the time period for each stratigraphic layer based on items recovered. Another station focused on dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating, where girls needed to determine how old the site is, where artifacts were found. The also used dendrochronology to decide how old the trees were when they were cut at the site. The last station focused on human osteology, the study of the structure and function of the skeleton and bone structures, and paleodemography, the study of the composition of human populations in antiquity and prehistory. This station sorted skeletal remains into anatomical positions, using skeleton drawings as guides. They also looked into dentition, the arrangement of an individual’s teeth! It was a super scientific, hands on, and fun experience! We are very thankful for SEAS for coming out to the MagLab for us! Once we were finished with our activity, it was time to settle down, complete camp post-surveys, and finish up our presentation displays in preparation for tonight’s end of camp reception. Whew! It was an amazing, intense, fabulous ride, and one that we hope our SciGirls will never forget! For now, SciGirls II 2018 is out! Don’t forget to tell your friends and family to apply for next summer!!
We can’t believe this is the final day of SciGirls 2018. We have had so much fun in many different settings, learning LOTS of different things! These young ladies have been amazing and we know their futures will be very bright!
This last day of SciGirls began with an archeological experience. Alex Parsons, of the Southeast Archeological Center-National Park Service, and her team helped us dig into the past! We learned that archeology is the study of ancient people and the things they left behind. We investigated a mock archeological site at the Mag Lab that had been looted. This included documenting damage to the site, recovering artifacts and working in our “lab” to analyze artifacts, human remains and interpreting our findings for a final report.
Our afternoon included surveys, interviews and creating posters to show the world all we’ve experienced during our two week camp. We have made new friends and created memories to last a lifetime. We encourage all of our campers to come back for SciGirls II and after that to return as volunteers. Once a SciGirl, always a SciGirl!
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.
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!