Balloon Blow-up with Chemistry

While I was away, Sarabeth led a really fun and interactive activity that used balloons to demonstrate chemical reactions. This is an activity we have done before at girls science club, and the girls love it every time! The idea is that when we combine baking soda (a base) and vinegar (an acid), they react chemically and create a gas, which will blow up the balloon.

The girls first filled their balloons with baking soda and put a bit of  vinegar in a water bottle. They then pulled the balloon around the top of the water bottle.

When the balloon was secure on the top of the water bottle they tipped the baking soda in.

The looks of surprise and awe on their faces when the balloon is blowing up is just so awesome!

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Science Detectives

The 2017-2018 year is off and running! For one of our first activities of the year we did an activity where the girls used science to be detectives! We did two different activities:

1. The girls wrote secret messages using half and half on white paper. The half and half (when dry) was the same color as the paper so the message was invisible. But, when you colored over the paper with a pencil, the parts with half and half were much darker because the fat in the cream attracts the lead from the pencil more than the plain paper.

2. We also learned about fingerprints and how each person has a unique fingerprint. Using baby powder and paintbrushes, the girls dusted for fingerprints on different surface (like cups, windows, and silverware). Once we found a fingerprint, you could pick it up using clear tape and stick it on a piece of paper to be preserved. Everyone had a lot of fun dusting for fingerprints all over the classroom!

Final activities of the year!

What an amazing 2016-2017 year for GWISE Girls Science Club! We finished up the semester with some great activities, including:

  1. Paper air planes
  2. Straw rockets
  3. Magnetism
  4. Weather
  5. CuSTEMized books: CuSTEMized (https://custemized.org/programs) works with teachers and mentors from underserved communities to provide personalized storybooks depicting their students in STEM careers. For this activity, the girls got to color their own personalized book! Thank you CuSTEMiszed!

Below are some photos from these activities. See you in September!

Paper Air Planes

 

Straw Rockets 

 

Weather

 

CuSTEMized books

Candy Chromatography

This week we learned about mixtures and color theory using food dye. Mixtures can be combinations of any two or more things, and one easy way to understand this is by looking at primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) and the secondary colors that are mixtures of those (orange, purple, and green). In this activity, we used water to dissolve the dye off the surface of an orange, purple, or green Skittle. By dipping a paper towel strip with a drop of dye into a solvent called isopropanol, we watched the dye separate into the primary colors in the mixture. This technique is called paper chromatography, and it makes for fun and colorful science!

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Blog post written by Julia Marrs

 

Marble Run

For this activity, we created “marble runs” out of recyclable materials. The girls split up into teams of 2-3, came up with their own design, and built it using tape, cardboard, paper and plastic bottles. I tried to film the marble going down the track in slow-motion video, but I couldn’t catch it! Here are some of the creative designs:

Elephant Toothpaste

This week, we spent most of girls science club trying diagnose the issue with our experiment. After many tests, we finally got it to work! Although this was not planned, problem solving is a huge part of being a scientist (and a graduate student…), so overall the hour was a success!

The experiment we attempted was called “Elephant Toothpaste“. As the name implies, the experiment entails creating a foam (from a chemical reaction) that looks similar to toothpaste you might expect an elephant to use. First, Sarabeth showed the girls a YouTube video of the experiment and we laid out a tarp to make cleaning efficient.

The reaction combined two solutions: (1) hydrogen peroxide + food coloring + dish soap with (2) warm water + yeast. Every girl got one mini water bottle to create their own reaction. We went around the room one at a time to test them. We were all very excited and then… nothing happened! The girls were very keen on figuring out why the reaction failed, so we tried different iterations of the experiment including adding more of each ingredient, warming up the water more, and speeding up the mixing. In the end we got it to work once, but I am still not sure why because we couldn’t replicate it.

Sometimes science experiments don’t go as planned and thats ok. We had a blast trying to figure out why the experiment failed and got to use our deductive reasoning skills.

Horizontal Windmills

Wow! This past week I left Girls Science Club smiling and thinking, “that is exactly how girls science club should be”. Jess planned an awesome activity designing horizontal windmills. The activity was pretty free form. We gave out supplies (a wooden stick, a styrofoam ball, thin popsicle sticks, index cards, and tape) and said, “design a windmill”.

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Here are some things that made this week so amazing:

  • Confidence: At the beginning of girls science club, I was working with a girl who spoke very little english. She was extremely hesitant to participate in the activity, so I  helped her make some blades. After some work, she was the first girl to get her windmill spinning. Everyone in the room clapped and cheered when she got it to work! She had the biggest smile on her face and spent the rest of the hour testing different blades and helping other girls get their windmills spinning.
  • Teamwork: Everyone was helping each other position the blades to get the windmills spinning. The blades needed to be able to catch the wind and spaced evenly enough so that the windmill didn’t get stuck.
  • Creativity: All of the windmill blades looked different. There was even a windmill with star shaped blades! And a “cat themed” windmill!

By the end of the activity, there was a consensus that larger blades spin faster and that the blades worked best if they were perpendicular to the wind. Overall, this was a great activity that kept everyone engaged for the entire hour.