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Student Workshops for 2016

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Junior Scientist Workshop Descriptions

1. Brainsss!

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 do they do, 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.

2. ​Boating in Beebe Lake: Building Model Sailboats

Have you wondered what it takes for a boat to sail in the sea? Come down to Beebe Lake with us and build your own sailboats.

Note: Students should wear sturdy shoes.

3. Cell City Relay

Have you ever wondered how the tiny cells that make up our bodies ultimately govern everything that we do? Or how your cells communicate with each other to fight off pathogens? Join us as we shrink down to become the organelles inside of a cell and conduct our own cell signaling. You’ll even get to stain a slide of your own cells and see different cell types under the microscope!

4. 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 and reveal the chemistry and science behind it. Join us as crime scene investigators!

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

6. Engineers of nature: How do plants drink?

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. In groups of 5 students, you will participate in three lab experiments in which you 1) investigate the properties of water, 2) investigate vessel functioning in plant stems and 3) unravel the vein structure of leaves.

7. 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 adjacent states have the same color? All these questions can be answered using math.

8. 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'll build your own baby genetic freak. Unlike real bugs, you'll want to eat these when we're done!

9. 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 uncover how viruses spread from person to person, explore how a virus makes you sick when it gets inside your body, and learn how to stop a disease outbreak.

10. 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!

11. Holey Cow

How do cows turn hay into milk? They have rumens! 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 products, hay, fur, latex involved. Students should wear clothes they do not mind getting dirty.

12. 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!

13. Home Cooked Chemistry

Put your Masterchef skills to the test as we use chemistry to make the perfect cookie. Join us in discovering why adding certain ingredients to your favorite desserts has chemical implications on physical properties, including texture, taste, and appearance.

14. Juice From Juice

Did you know that you can make electricity from something as ordinary as berry juice? Come learn how to design, build, and try out your very own berry-powered solar cell!

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. 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!

18. 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!

19. 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.

20. Program Your Own Animation!

Do you love Big Hero 6 or Inside Out? Do you wonder whether you could animate cartoons like Phineas and Ferb or Adventure Time? 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!

21. 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 this reaction as well as learn about other reactions that occur around us every day.

22. 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.

23. Sight, Sound, Tangled

We need your help choosing movie soundtracks, dissecting cow eyes, and building alien creatures! Come find out how your senses of vision and audition interact to help you navigate and engage with the world. You’ll learn about eye anatomy, participate in a depth perception competition, build eyes and ears for alien creatures, and listen to many types of music while learning how sight and sound depend on each other for both survival and entertainment.

24. 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!

25. Supersocieties

Humans aren’t the only animals who live in societies, care for their families, and talk to each other – not to mention fight with each other! In your own backyard you will find insects doing the very same things. Come meet our friendly honeybees and 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 with each other 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.

26. 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!

27. 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.

Senior Scientist Workshop

Schedules will be available on the day of the conference.

28. A Bird in the Hand

Have you ever wondered why birds have so many beautiful colors and patterns? Why is a Cardinal red and why is a Blue Jay blue? Join us at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology to explore how evolution paints a diverse spectrum of colorful birds. We’ll catch and record live birds, learn how ornithologists think, and recreate the process of evolution through fun activities.

Note: Students should wear clothing that will keep them warm outside in late April, as well as appropriate shoes that they don't mind getting dirty.

29. 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!

30. Outbreak Investigators

What’s causing everyone to get sick at the school carnival? You’re our food detectives, and it’s your job to find out. We’ll use several tests that real microbiologists use to figure out which bacteria are making people sick. Be a detective all-star and extract real DNA from an everyday food... that you can take home with you!

31. State Machines Everywhere

Machines have taken over the world! Many of them are what we call state machines, ranging from traffic lights, elevators, safes, and vending machines up to the cool and complicated robots of the 21st century, all of which help make your world better every day. But what are these things, anyways? Learn about how state machines work and what they do for you, and make your own state machine to teach a Roomba how to navigate a maze.

32. The Error of Our Ways

Ever wonder why we make the decisions we do? Or how we make sense of each other and figure out when others lie? We all make judgments like this 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.

33. Tree-Ring Time Detectives

Tree-rings allow us to travel back in time to learn about past climate, environment, and even human history. In this workshop, you will get a close look at how dendrochronologists (tree-ring scientists) use tree-rings to figure out how rainy it was in the past, and find the age of old buildings, musical instruments, and works of art! You will get to use your own detective skills to figure out the past histories of local trees, learn how to dig up ancient timber on an archaeological dig, and spot forged paintings, using the information that trees have to tell us.

34. 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!