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Student Workshops for 2017

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Junior Scientist Workshop Descriptions

1. 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!

2. 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’!

3. Engineering the Human Body

What happens when a body part cannot heal properly from injury or disease? Have you ever wondered how these body parts can be replaced? Come and see how artificial devices called prosthetics are improving lives, and how new advancements are enabling artificial body parts to work more naturally. During this workshop, you will get to design your own prosthetic device and learn how it can be controlled by your brain!

4. 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 3-5 students, you will participate in three lab experiments in which you 1) challenge your friends to see who can build the tallest water column, 2) figure out how to get water without moving, and 3) turn leaves into skeletons to investigate their veins microscopically.

5. 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.

6. Fueling Your Gut Reactions

Did you know that there are TRILLIONS of tiny microbes living inside your gut? Some can be helpful, others harmful, and they are influenced by the foods you eat every single day. Scientists refer to this community of microbes as the gut microbiome. Join us to learn about the microbes that make up your gut microbiome, how they interact with your diet, and what reactions they are carrying out inside of you right now!

7. 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!

8. 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.

9. 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!

10. 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!

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. 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!

13. 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.

Warning: You will be doing a dissection, so be prepared to get a little messy!

14. Meet the Membrane

What do butter, biodiesel, and the boundaries of cells all have in common? LIPIDS. Lipids hold cells together and help move cargo within the cell, serve as energy stores in hibernating bears, keep penguins warm at the south pole, and help keep you from swelling up with water when you go swimming. In this workshop, you’ll be able to explore some of the many properties and uses of lipids in biology and learn about the chemistry that makes it all possible.

15. Mutant Madness

“A horde of mutant worms” sounds like something you’d ought to quickly run away from, but the tiny, friendly nematodes – C. elegans – are nothing to fear! While they may not have superpowers, the microscopic mutants hidden among these worms help to answer some of biology’s biggest questions. See for yourself as you discover worms of all shapes, sizes, behaviors, and colors, and experience how researchers use these mutations to their advantage.

16. Program Your Own Animation!

Do you love Moana or Zootopia? Interested in how animators make cartoons fly? If you’ve ever wondered about what it takes to make something creative with computer, this workshop is for you! We'll teach you how to use Scratch, a popular, free program, to make your characters fly. We’ll teach you computer science techniques to make your animations super cool with interactions and fun effects! Come make animations and discover how the inner details of programming can help you create!

17. Racing Rockets

Have you wondered how we are able to send rockets thousands of miles into space? Blast off with us as we explore the wonders of liftoff and the elements of a successful rocket launch. Design, build, and launch your own rockets and watch them soar. That’s one small step for girls, one giant leap for womankind!

18. Radiation: It's not superpowers, it's better! Empowering women through science, not fantasy

You may think of radioactivity when you think of Superman or the Hulk; however, there is so much more to nuclear chemistry than fantasy. Join us as we explore the reality of radioactivity and how its power can be harnessed to generate energy, solve medical problems, and so much more.

19. 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.

20. Scientific Art: the chemistry of colors!

Although art and science can seem like total opposites, they often go hand in hand. Come explore the chemistry of color and make your own pigments from plants and minerals. You will get to make and take home your own paints and photographic prints. Learn the science behind the art!!

21. 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!

22. 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. These machines help make your world better every day. But how do they work, anyways? Learn about how state machines work and what they do for you, and make your own state machine to teach a real robot how to navigate a maze.

23. The Ooey Gooey Science of Slime

Have you ever wondered why materials like Silly Putty and Slime are so amusingly stretchy, bouncy, sticky, moldable, breakable, hard, soft, and just plain ooey gooey? It’s the unique elastic properties of polymers, certain kinds of large molecules, that make these products durable, squishy, and, in general, so much fun to play with! In this science demo, you will make your own polymer, explore the chemistry of polymerization, and describe the effects of temperature on your ooey gooey slime. Join us as we stretch, squish, and squeeze slime in the most fun scientific experiment investigating the temperature-dependent properties of polymer elasticity!

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. Tiny Circuits

Ever wonder what things are in cell phones and computers that make them work? Or why cell phones and computers can continue to be made increasingly smaller and more complex? Learn the answers to these questions and explore hands-on the processes used to design, build and test circuits for these devices.

26. 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.

27. 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!

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. 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.

31. Break Stuff on Purpose!

Break stuff on purpose! How do engineers decide what building materials to use? How do scientists measure the important properties that let engineers make those decisions? They break stuff! In this workshop, we’ll stretch metals and plastics until they break to tell us how stiff, strong, ductile, and tough different materials are.

32. Freshwater Adventures! Comparing and Contrasting Ponds and Streams

What do ponds and streams have in common and what about them is different? Do the same animals inhabit both a pond and a stream? Come find out for yourself by wading into the ecology of ponds and streams. We’ll be collecting live animals and real data on environmental factors like water temperature so be prepared to get your hands wet!

Note: Students should wear sturdy shoes.

33. 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!

34. 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.