Back to Current Year Student Workshops
2014 Workshop Descriptions
1. Alchemy 101
Alchemists in the Middles Ages obsessed about how to turn simple stones into precious metals such as silver and gold. In this workshop we will do our own alchemy by turning sugar and salt into silver mirrors you can take home. We will also explore other elements and colorful reactions that fascinated alchemists.
2. Bad to the Bone: Injuries and Repair
Athletic injuries are a fact of life, but what does it mean when you break a bone? How do you fix a broken bone? Explore these ideas by breaking real animal bones and piecing them back together to explore the science behind how bones work!
Your brain lets you walk, talk, chew gum, breathe, and more—all at the same time! Scientists are only just beginning to understand how that lumpy chunk of gray matter between your ears works. Learn about how scientists study the brain and the different parts of the brain – where they are, what they do, and what happens if they’re gone. We will see (and touch!) real human and animal brains and meet the animals whose brains we study.
Note: Animal allergens.
4. Colorful Crystal Explosives
What do rubies, ice, and potato starch have in common? They are all crystals! Using a special type of light microscope, we will view various crystals and the brilliant colors they produce. Specimens include everyday salts, potato starch, and organic explosives, like TNT! You will be able to take pictures of your crystals to show friends and family.
5. Command Your Own Robot
How would you like to have your own robot that could do your chores at home or drive you to school? Come and see how what was once science fiction is becoming part of our daily lives. During this workshop you will even get to program a real robot and watch it compete against your friends’!
6. Crazy Cascadilla Creek
What crazy creatures live in Cascadilla Creek? Explore the stream to catch and meet the fish and invertebrates that call Cascadilla home. We’ll have the D-nets, dip nets, seines, viewing boxes, sieves - you bring your rubber boots and sense of adventure.
Note: Off campus, outdoors, wear old shoes, you will get wet, and bring rubber waders/boots if you have them.
7. CSI: Plant Detectives!
Somebody call the doctor... the plant doctor! Have you ever wondered what is spoiling your favorite fruits and veggies? Plants can get diseases, just like you and me. Take a trip with us to the lab and solve the mystery of what is killing your tomato plants and making your potatoes a rotten mess!
8. DIY: Designing Social Networks
What makes strangers and friends want to come together to write Wikipedia articles, or share status updates about their lives? Come learn the science behind how online communities are designed, what attracts new members, and what makes people motivated to work with each other. Craft interfaces as if you were in charge of communities like Facebook, write code for your own online community, and design outreach to get people involved in what you care about!
9. Doctor, Doctor!
X-ray, Chemotherapy... Amazing progress has been made in Medicine over the last century. Yet, around the world, millions of people never experience these incredible cures. How can people get the care they deserve? You will develop solutions to Global Health problems, use camera phones to provide diagnoses, check vitals and blood flow with ultrasound. Learn how your ideas can help mend the world.
10. Edges of Glory
Mathematics shows up everywhere in our lives. We will unravel the mystery of how mathematics can help us carry out tasks in an optimal way. How do you split a chore fairly with your sibling? What is the quickest way to go from our house to school? Learn how these problems can be approached and solved using math!
11. Exploring Math: Patterns and Puzzles!
Do you know how to turn your pants inside out without taking them off? Or how to win games every time? Can you figure out a way to do a scavenger hunt without retracing your steps? All these questions can be answered using math!
12. Food Detectives
How do scientists respond to the outbreaks of foodborne illnesses? What questions need to be addressed to prevent more people from getting sick? In this workshop, participants will use the tools of food scientists, from chemical tests and DNA extraction to surveys and statistics, to solve the case and stop the outbreak!
13. Genetic Freaks
Ever wonder why sisters and brothers don’t look exactly alike? We’ll use mom and dad “bugs” to show how genes are passed from parents to kids and how different combinations occur. Using our bugs’ genes, you’ll build your own baby genetic freak. Unlike real bugs, you’ll want to eat these when we’re done!
14. H2O Detectives
Come be a water sleuth with us! Learn why some rivers get muddy and contaminated while others stay clean, or how humans can affect flooding. We will figure out how water and pollutants move across the landscape by building our own watershed models!
15. Holey Cow
How can cows turn hay into milk? Come explore a cow’s stomach and experience aspects of life as a dairy cow. From farm to table, learn what affects the milk you drink. Discuss real life farm practices and how they may, or may not, affect your health and nutrition.
Note: Dairy, hay, fur, and latex involved. Wear clothes you do not mind getting dirty.
16. Infected! The Battle for your Body
Did you know there is a constant battle going on inside your body? Every day you encounter viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens that can make you sick, yet your body is often able to keep you well. Learn your body gets rid of invaders, and how engineers design better weapons and strategies to combat your body’s biggest enemies.
17. Juice From Juice
Did you know that you could make electricity from something as ordinary as a berry? We can use solar cells to convert the energy of light into electric charge. Come learn how to design, build, and try out your own berry-powered solar cell!
18. Life in the Soil
Ever wondered why the soil is brown, or how organisms in the soil get energy to live? Many soil organisms break down carbohydrates from dead plant materials, microorganisms, soil animals, and animal wastes! In this workshop we will examine soil critters of all sizes and explore how their activities contribute to building healthy soils.
19. Make your own animation!
Ever wondered how you can make your own animated film, or what it takes to write your own video game? You’ll learn how to use Scratch, a popular, free program, to make your own computer generated films or video games and how to share them with your friends and the rest of the world!
20. Making Perfume and Lip Balm
How does lip balm keep your lips hydrated? Why do perfumes smell so nice? Discover the science behind lip balm and learn how to extract and purify scents to make perfume. You’ll make your own perfume and lip balm and see some tools that companies use to make these products for millions of people.
21. Marine Biology: Whales to Snails
What might a typical day look like for a marine biologist? Find out through some hands-on fun! Learn how fish eat, breathe, and sense, how a marine mammalogist identifies individual humpback whales, and how delicate creatures like starfish and cleaner shrimp survive in unique habitats.
Note: You will be doing a dissection; be prepared to get a little messy!
22. Materials in the House
Plastic is everywhere in your household. In this workshop you will learn about plastics by making Nylon and Silly Putty and (even more fun) by shattering CDs and straws to see how and why these materials break.
23. The Physics of Bubbles
Did you know that there’s a lot of really interesting physics in bubbles? We will investigate the science of bubbles with hands-on experiments. We’ll try to answer: what gives bubbles their colors and shape? Why do you get an explosion of bubbles when you mix Mentos and Diet Coke? Come and play with bubbles and discover fun science!
24. Play or Get Played
Do you like to play games? Are you a competitive or a cooperative player? Come discover what kind of decision maker you are! Game theory is the study of strategic decision making, and we’ll demonstrate the uses of this theory by playing five behavioral games. We’ll collect data and discuss the importance of making decisions in the animal kingdom. Winning isn’t always as easy as it seems, and in some games, everyone can be a winner!
25. Racing Reactions
Do you have what it takes to control a chemical reaction? In this workshop, you will learn how to perform a reaction that changes colors right before your eyes. We will explore how we can control this reaction as well as learn about other reactions that occur around us every day.
26. Reverse your Taste buds
How does our tongue work to allow us to taste sweet, salty, and sour foods? Why can’t every food taste sweet like sugar? Well, now it can! With a miraculous natural fruit, your taste buds will turn upside down. Discover thesciencebehindtaste and the biological signaling events that make it all possible.
27. The Science of Sound
Did you know that fish can sing, or that elephants can hear with their feet? Sound is very important for animal communication. What exactly is sound? We’ll explore the properties of sound in a variety of ways, including visualizing sound waves and learning about how animals use sound to communicate.
28. Secrets of the super-societies
Come meet our friendly honeybees and our tiny but fascinating ants, and journey into the weird and wonderful world of social insects. We’ll discover what bees and ants do all day and why, how they communicate and interact with their hive-mates, and, of course, why bees make honey!
Note: Bee allergies, free flying bees, off campus. Safety precautions will be taken.
29. Skillful Skeletons
Why do animals look the way they do? How can scientists tell if dinosaurs hunted by sight, sound, or smell? Come along and learn how you can figure all of those things out (and more!) from simply examining an animal’s bones.
30. The Psychology of Teams
Come participate in the Psychology Olympics! Work with your team members and compete against your peers in games of creativity, fitness, and brain power. Through these games, you will learn about the psychology of teamwork. Learn how these psychological concepts apply to daily life.
For safety and comfort in all the workshops, please wear closed-toed shoes and comfortable clothing you don’t mind getting dirty.
9th Grade Workshops
Schedules will be available on the day of the conference.
31. Afternoon in the Museum
Did you know that only a tiny fraction of any natural history museum’s specimens are on display? Come explore the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates behind the scenes! You’ll get an insider’s perspective on the true nature of museums and even learn to prepare your own museum specimen. Gross and sublime, huge and tiny, sharks and monkeys and fish and snakes and birds and more!
32. Canine Code
What are genetic mutations, and how do they affect humans and our furry friends? Come learn about how genes influence health and appearance in dogs. You’ll work through a real example of how canine geneticists identify mutations that cause disease and learn about other mutations that give dogs floppy ears, curly fur, and more!
33. Color me up with Fluorophores
How can you visualize a single protein in a living cell with tens of millions of proteins? Light up the way using fluorescent proteins and see how you can purify these colorful characters from mixtures of proteins in cells.
Do you ever wonder how scientists try to predict where future earthquakes will occur? Do you know why earthquakes happen? Come learn how seismologists look at data from around the world to determine where earthquakes have occurred and where we expect the next big one to be. Set up your own experiment to simulate and locate an earthquake and then look at real data collected in Ithaca to put your new knowledge to the test!
35. Turning on the Lights
Have you ever passed by a wind farm and wondered what the “windmills” were for? Wind farms convert the energy in the wind into electricity that can be used to power your computer or phone. Join us in this exciting workshop, where you will get to build your very own wind electricity generator and test it to turn real lights on!