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Student Workshops for 2018

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7th and 8th Grade Workshop Descriptions

1. Black Widow vs. Wonder Woman

Black Widow vs. Wonder Woman workshop
Black Widow vs. Wonder Woman workshop

Ever wonder what you have in common with Black Widow and Wonder Woman? Your body does amazing things and you just don’t know it! Like the super spy Black Widow, it can decode secret messages. It can also make sure your cells only tell the truth when talking to other cells, just like Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth! These superpowers help make us who we are and allow us to do incredible things. Come discover how “super” you are and better understand some of your favorite heroes!

2. 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.

3. Building a Better Battery

Batteries are all around us: starting cars, powering cell phones, storing extra energy generated by solar cells. Many batteries today use lithium chemistry, but aluminum air batteries are actively being explored as an alternative. In this workshop, we will explore how and why batteries work, as participants aim to design the most powerful aluminum air battery.

4. 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 with your own cells and see different cell types under the microscope!

5. Command Your Own Robot

Command Your Own Robot workshop
Command Your Own Robot workshop

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. Community Immunity

You can use medicine to feel better, but wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t get sick at all? In this workshop, you will learn how vaccines prevent people from getting sick. You’ll find out why vaccines are effective and how scientists and engineers develop new ways to keep us all healthy!

7. Computer Guts

Computers are everywhere, from our phones to tablets, to even our laptops, we have become a society dependent on these black box devices. However, how do they actually work? Learn the parts of a computer, and how they all connect together, in this hands-on workshop. From the mother-board, to the RAM, how does the Computer “do”? In this workshop, you will BUILD a computer!

8. Exploring Math Patterns and Puzzles

Do you know how to win games every time? Or how to calculate and maximize your probability of winning a game? Or what happens when you play a game like tic-tac-toe, but traversing an edge means going through a portal to another side of the board? We will explore these ideas using twists on common games, trying to introduce notions of strategy and mathematical analysis.

9. 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!

10. 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 explore how a virus makes you sick and learn how to stop a disease outbreak.

11. 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!

12. Holey Cow

Holey Cow
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.

13. Juice from Juice: Berry Solar Cells

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

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 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. Out of this World: Investigating the Dynamics of Space Technology

Have you ever wondered how rocket scientists design rockets and landers in order to travel safely to the moon? In this workshop, we will design our own Alka-Seltzer rockets and space landers in order to investigate the variables that make space technology safe and effective. Through designing and testing our space technology, we will study which measures make rockets and landers work successfully and which ones are better left on Earth! Join us for an activity that is truly out of this world!!!

17. Program Your Own Animation!

Do you love The Lego Movies, Moana, or Zootopia? Interested in how animators make cartoons fly? Do you like to play puzzle games? If you’ve ever wondered about what it takes to make something creative with the computer, this workshop is for you! We will teach you basics of Scratch, a popular free program, to make characters move, fly, and tell stories. 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!

18. Radioactive World

From energy to medicine to everyday life, radioactivity is all around us. As scientists, we solve problems and learn about different systems by using radioactivity in techniques including carbon dating and cancer therapy. Join us as we learn how to identify, detect, and understand fundamental nuclear chemistry!

19. Reverse Your Taste Buds

How can we taste so many different things? How does our tongue allow to taste sweet, salty, and sour foods? Can we trick the tongue to give our favorite tastes? This miraculous natural fruit will turn your taste buds upside down! Discover the science that makes it possible!

20. Run, Jump, Lift - Medical Devices To See How Your Body Works!

Have you ever felt your heart racing and your breath quicken on the playing field? Ever wondered why? Here you can investigate the what, why, and how of your body during rest and exercise! Explore and learn about your heart, muscles, lungs, and blood pressure with a variety of medical devices, homemade or from the doctor’s office, and critically evaluate your body’s response to physical activity.

21. Somebody Call the Plant Doctor

Somebody call the doctor...the plant doctor! Have you ever wondered what’s spoiling your favorite fruits and veggies? Plants can get sick, just like you. 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. Starch Sleuths

Have you ever wondered what happens to a piece of bread after you eat it? Are you interested in contributing to research on one of the most prominent diseases of our time? In this workshop, we will explore the digestion of starch to glucose, how our organs respond to that glucose, and what happens when things go wrong! Join us for a day of experimentation, games, and taste testing!

23. State Machines Everywhere!​

Machines have taken over the world! Many of them are state machines: from traffic lights, elevators, safes, and vending machines to the cool and complicated robots of the 21st century, these machines make your world better every day. But what is a state machine, and how do they work? Learn about state machines and what they do for you, and make your own state machine to teach a real robot how to navigate a maze.

24. 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!

25. The 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!

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 learn the secrets of how trees grow and 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! Come use your own tree-ring detective skills to figure out the past histories of local trees, learn how to dig up timber from ancient environments, and spot forged paintings.

9th Grade Workshop Descriptions

Schedules will be available on the day of the conference.

27. A Day in the Life of an Ornithologist

A Day in the Life of an Ornithologist
A Day in the Life of an Ornithologist

Have you ever watched birds in your backyard and wondered why they behave the way that they do? Join us at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to learn about studying birds, including the different tasks and questions that ornithologists tackle every day! We will explore the museum collections, play a fun hands-on game to learn about bird caching behaviors, and catch and record live birds in our mist nets!

28. Alien Worlds

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!

29. 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!

30. Picture This!

Do you think that a computer could tell if there are any plants in an picture? If so, do you think a computer could determine how tall they are, or what species they are, or if they’re healthy? Computers can actually do all of these things—if given the right instructions. Come learn how plant scientists use programming to get computers to assess plant health from only a image. You will also learn why this is so important for producing food around the world, and get some seeds to take home and plant yourself!

31. Tasty Science

How do we taste? How do we smell? What makes the food we eat tasty? Can onions ever taste like apples? Why do we eat what we eat, and why do we like the taste of unhealthy food? Come engage your senses in new ways and learn about the taste system!