Monthly Archives: October 2016

Optics and Light

This week we were lucky to be able to explore the science of light using donated photonics kits from the IEEE Photonics Society. The IEEE Photonics Society distributed kits to groups around the world “to show young women and pre-university students how photonics impacts the world around them” through their “Introduce a Girl to Photonics Week” Initiative. The kits were awesome! Thanks!

Radost led the activity and organized it into three rotation stations. Each station was designed to teach the girls different facts about light:

  1. Light travels in straight lines; light spreads out as it gets further away from source. 
    At this station, the girls lined up three index cards. They shined light through the holes in the index cards, moving the middle card. This activity demonstrated that light travels in a straight line!
  2. You can make new colors with light; white light is made up of many colors. 

    I ran the color mixing station and had the girls write down their hypotheses of what color we would see when we mixed the different colored lights. Most of the girls correctly predicted that red and blue light would make purple, but not one girl predicted we would see white light when we mixed all three. This was a very exciting finding! We then looked at the ceiling lights in the room through a film that separates the white light into separate colors.  This provided two different lines of evidence that white light is a combination of many colors.

  3. Light does different things when it hits different materials- it can be blocked or passed through.
     At this station, Radost taught the girls the meaning of the words: opaque, transparent, and translucent. The girls tested the ability of light to go through different materials and categorized the materialized into three categories based on these new vocabulary words. At the end, the girls were given a mirror to test, which demonstrated that light can also be reflected!

At the end of the three rotations, the girls had the choice to (1) read about light in the books provided, (2) experiment with the colored lights, or (3) make a color wheel.

Overall, we had a blast learning about light!



Measuring & Play dough

Note: From now on, I will be posting a link to the “Activity Sheet” at the bottom of each post. This week our theme was measurements. I planned the activity to convey the importance measuring in science. Before making the play dough, we started with two fun warm-up activities:

(1) Which is more accurate: a graduated cylinder or a beaker? Almost every girl guessed the cylinder, which is correct! Their reasoning was correct as well, “the cylinder has more measuring lines!”– I was impressed!


(2) Next, we gave out syringes and had the girls test their measuring skills with water. Playing with the syringes kept their attention for longer than I expected, probably around 5-10 minutes!


Finally, we made the play dough, which requires 4 ingredients (flour, salt, warm water, and kool-aid). We had the girls line up and measure their own ingredients into their bowl:


Once the salt and the flour were mixed, we had everyone sit down. Before we passed out the water, we had the girls agree that they would stay seated, which I think made the rest of the activity a success. Once the water is added, you are left with this goop:


Because the proportions of flour/water/salt are not perfect, you have to add more flour if it sticky and more water if it is flaky. This demonstrates how important it is to have the correct amount of “stuff” when doing science– it’s the difference between sticky goop and perfect play dough! The girls has a blast trying to get the play dough a nice consistency. By the end of the activity, everyone had a ball of red play-dough (that smells amazing because of the kool-aid!). Unfortunately, we didn’t get any pictures of the finished project– all of the mentors were very busy (and messy) during this last step! The final play dough looked like this:

Here is the activity sheet we used this week: GSC_Play_Dough


Women in Science

This week we learned about some contributions women have made to science. The activity had three parts:

(1) Draw a scientist doing science. The girls got creative and drew lots of different scientists. Some scientist were studying animals, some were mixing chemicals, etc. Here is a scientist with tall green hair at a computer with a sword  🙂


(2) Next, Sarabeth led a discussion tying previous activities with the research of other leading women scientists. For example:

Rosalind Franklin studied the structure of DNA. The girls were prompted to recall the experiment we did involving DNA (which we extracted from our spit!)

(3) Lastly, we had a round of Bingo, where the girls could run around and fill out their bingo cards (with a prize in mind of course!):


This is a great activity when is high attendance at the club! Many of the girls come to the club every week, so it is nice to take time to reflect on our previous meetings.