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Student Workshops for 2015

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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 alchemists marveled at.

2. Alien Worlds Eclipsing Distant Suns

Did you know that the Kepler space telescope has discovered thousands of alien worlds orbiting stars just like our Sun? Come build a working mini-Kepler to observe the eclipse of a planetary system and learn how astronomers use these observations to measure distant worlds. We’ll also show you how to become a citizen scientist and help with real scientific research discovering exoplanets from the comfort of your own home!

3. Bad to the Bone

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 smashing real animal bones and piecing them back together and exploring the science behind how bones work!

4. Brains!!!

Your brain lets you walk, talk, chew gum, breathe, think about what you want for lunch, and more—all at the same time! We use our brains every single second of every single day but scientists are only just beginning to understand how that lumpy chunk of gray matter in your head works. Learn about how scientists study the brain (hint: they study the brains of animals!) and about the different parts of the brain – where they are, what they do, and what happens if they’re gone. For all you brave souls: we will see (and touch!) real human and animal brains and meet the animals whose brains we study.

Note: Animal allergens.

5. Building a Bridge to Engineering

Ever wonder how bridges like The Golden Gate Bridge or the Tower Bridge stay standing year after year? How about why other bridges suddenly give way and collapse? Join us as we explore the building process and materials behind these bridges and build and test bridges of our own! Be a civil engineer and help us build the best bridge, and learn more about Cornell’s very own bridges.

6. Chemistry of Crime Scenes

Have you ever watched a show like C.S.I. and wondered how did they do that? We will explore different investigative techniques, like fingerprinting, and reveal the chemistry and science behind it. Join us as crime scene investigators!

7. 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.

8. 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 get to program a real robot and watch it compete against your friends’!

9. 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. Then use the inhabitants to measure the water quality in the stream.

Note: This workshop is off campus and outdoors. You will get wet! Wear old shoes and bring rubber waders/boots if you have them.

10. Doctor, Doctor!

X-ray, Chemotherapy, Lasik Surgery, etc. ... Amazing progress has been made in medicine over the last century. Yet, around the world, millions of people never experience these incredible cures and suffer from problems that could have been easily resolved. In this workshop, you will develop solutions to help in Global Health problems, such as malaria, asthma, and heart disease. Use the camera in your phone to provide life-saving diagnoses. Check vitals and blood flow with ultrasound. Turn your bike pump into a medical device. Come learn how your ideas can help mend the world around you.

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? How many colors do you need to color a map of the United States so no two neighboring states have the same color? All these questions can be answered using math!

12. Eye Spy

Did you know that everything we see is an illusion? Learn how the eye transforms energy from light to allow us to visualize and navigate our world. We will examine the color spectrum, dissect cow eyes, and perform experiments to learn how we detect objects and scenes.

13. Genetic Freaks

Have you ever wondered why sisters and brothers don't look exactly alike? Everyone's mom and dad pass on half of their genes to each of their children, but it is not always the same half. Sometimes "recessive", or sneaky, genes can give you a look you would never guess, like having red hair when both your parents have brown hair! We'll use mom and dad "bugs" to show how genes are passed from parents to kids and how different combinations occur. Using our parental bugs’ genes, you will build your own baby genetic freak. Unlike real bugs, you'll want to eat these when we are done!

14. Going Viral

If you’ve ever had the flu, you know what it’s like to be infected by a virus. But have you ever wondered how you got that virus and how it makes you sick? Join us as we track a disease outbreak back to patient zero, uncover how viruses spread from person to person, and explore how a virus makes you sick when it gets inside your body.

15. Googling with Paper Airplanes

Have you ever wondered how computers talk to each other? How a video from California gets onto your phone in New York? Would you like to throw paper airplanes? In this workshop, you will learn how the internet works by throwing paper airplanes!

16. H2O Detectives

Come be a water detective with us! If you are curious why some rivers get muddy and contaminated while others stay clean, or want to learn how humans can affect flooding, this is the place. We will figure out how water and pollutants move across the landscape by building our own watershed models!

17. Juice From Juice

Did you know that you can make electricity from something as ordinary as a berry? We can use solar cells to convert the energy of light into electric charge. You will design, build, and then try out your own berry-powered solar cell!

18. Life in Lakes

Have you ever jumped into a warm lake, only to find that your upper body is in warm water and your feet are in cold water? Lakes may seem simple, but are actually made up of several different habitats that change dramatically throughout the year. Come to our workshop to find out why and to learn how this impacts animals that live in lakes.

19. Lip Balm and Perfume

Ever wonder how lip balm keeps your lips hydrated? Or why perfume smells so nice? Discover the steps used to extract and purify scents to make perfume as well as the science behind lip balm. You will have a chance to make your own perfume and lip balm and then see some of the tools that companies use to make these products for millions of people.

20. Make Your Own Radio!

Ever wonder how or why your radio works? How does it mysteriously manage to play your favorite songs with nothing more than a small piece of metal? Come find out in this fun, interactive experiment where you can make your own radio and use it to listen to real radio stations around Cornell’s lovely campus. You’ll even get to take a homemade radio home with you as a souvenir!

21. Marine Biology: Whales to Snails

What might a typical day look like for a marine biologist? Find out through some hands-on fun! Fish, marine mammals, and invertebrates are some of the most fascinating organisms in the sea, and there are tons of things about these creatures that a biologist can study. We will 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, so 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. Photochemistry: Printing is Believing

Before there was Instagram there were anthotypes! And cyanotypes and albumin prints! Photographs weren’t always a phone feature. For centuries, photographic prints were made by hand utilizing light sensitive chemicals. Learn how to make your own photographic paper from fruits and vegetables, and then harness the sunlight to make prints on fabric.

24. Physics of Bubbles

Everyone knows bubbles are fun, but did you know that there's also a lot of really interesting physics in bubbles? In this workshop, we will investigate the science of bubbles with a variety of hands-on experiments. Some of the questions we will try to answer are: What gives soap bubbles their colors? What gives bubbles their shape? Why do you get an explosion of bubbles when you mix Mentos and Diet Coke? Come and play with bubbles and see how all kinds of fun science can be found in some of the most common places!

25. Play or Get Played

Do you like to play games? Do you consider yourself a competitive or a cooperative player? Come play behavioral games to discover what kind of decision maker you truly are! Game theory is the study of strategic decision making, and we will test the predictions of this theory by playing five standard behavioral games. We will collect data over the course of our workshop and discuss the importance of making decisions, both for humans and animals alike. You’ll learn that winning isn’t always as easy as it seems, and in some games, everyone can be a winner!

26. Program Your Own Animation!

Do you love Big Hero 6? Brave? Frozen? Toy Story? Do you like to play video games? If you’ve ever wondered how you can make your own animated film, complete with computer generated characters and scenes, or what it takes to write your own video game, this workshop is for you! We'll teach you how to use Scratch, a popular, free program, to make your own computer generated films or video games and how to upload them to the Scratch website so that you can share them with your friends and the rest of the world!

27. Racing Reactions

Do you have what it takes to control the rate of 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 how fast or slowly this reaction occurs as well as learn about other reactions that occur around us every day.

28. Reverse your Taste buds

How can we taste so many different things? How does our tongue allow us to taste sweet, salty, and sour foods? Why can’t every food taste sweet like sugar? Well, maybe they all can! With a miraculous natural fruit, known as a miracle berry, your taste buds will turn upside down! Discover the science behind taste and the biochemical signaling events that make it all possible.

29. Skillful Skeletons

How can scientists tell if dinosaurs hunted by sight, sound, or smell? Or what kind of food they ate? Or how they moved around? Learn how you can figure these things out, and why animals look the way they do, with modern animal bones!

30. Somebody Call the Plant Doctor

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, ruining your grapes and making your potatoes a rotten mess!

31. The Psychology of Teams

Come participate in the Psychology Olympics! Work with your team members and compete against your peers in games of creativity, cooperation, and brain power. Through these games we will learn about the psychology of teamwork. We will follow up with a discussion on our experiences during the games and how these psychological concepts apply to daily life.

32. Thirsty Plants: The Fight for Water

Water is essential to life. Unlike human beings, plants are stationary and cannot walk to a tap to satisfy their thirst, yet they can survive in the same location for decades. How do they that? In this workshop, you will learn the specific tricks that plants have developed to take up water from the soil and transport it all the way up to their leaves!

For safety and comfort in all the workshops, please wear closed-toed shoes and comfortable clothing you don’t mind getting dirty.

9th Grade Track

Schedules will be available on the day of the conference.

33. BaNa2_Bread

Test your taste buds and learn why a sour apple candy doesn’t actually taste like an apple. In this workshop you will synthesize isoamyl acetate, better known as synthetic banana flavoring. We will then be making (and tasting) banana bread muffins made with real bananas and synthetic flavoring to see if we can tell the difference. Come learn about the flavors in your food!

34. Earthquakes

Do you know why earthquakes happen? Come to this workshop and learn how seismologists look at seismograms from all around the world to determine where earthquakes occur and where the next big one may be. Set up your own experiment to simulate and locate an earthquake, then look at real data collected in Ithaca to put your new knowledge to the test!

35. Engineering Fashion

We use electrical devices everyday, but have you ever built one yourself? It’s easier than you might think! In this workshop you will design and build a simple electrical circuit and then sew a bracelet that lights up in the dark. Come explore where electrical engineering and art collide and learn how electricity is used to power everything around us.

36. The Error of Our Ways

Ever wonder why people sometimes make such bad choices? Or how two people can reach very different answers to the same question? We all make many decisions every day and it’s very easy to make mistakes. Come learn how choices and decisions can go awry and how to make yourself invincible against the common mistakes that everyone makes!

37. 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!