Monthly Archives: March 2017

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.

 

Static Electricity

Every week at the end of girls science club, each girl “tells us what she has learned” and gets to pick a small token to take with her. We used to give out candy, but have switched to stickers and balloons (to be healthier!). Balloons are the current hot item, so I thought incorporating balloons into the actual activity would be fun! To incorporate balloons, I themed the activity around static electricity.

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The hour was divided into four activities:

  1. Stick a balloon to the wall. In this activity, we had the girls rub the balloons either on their heads or with wool socks/sweaters, and then stick them to the wall. It was also neat to see the balloons stick to the wool socks! IMG_7885.jpg
  2. Then, we tested out which materials can generate static. We rubbed different types of spoons (wood, plastic, metal) with the wool and tried to “pick up” salt and pepper. One girl spilled her salt on the table and used the balloon to pick it up! I thought that was a great idea!IMG_7890
  3. After determining that plastic was the best spoon material to generate static, we rolled aluminum cans with the balloons. To do this, you rub the balloon and put it near (but not touching) the can.
  4. Lastly, we made butterflies with tissue paper wings. To get the wings to “flap”, we rubbed the ballon and put the ballon near the tissue paper wings.

Thankfully, it was a cold day in Boston and the heat was on high, allowing us to generate a lot of static!