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Student Workshops for 2019

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7th and 8th Grade Workshop Descriptions

1. Adventures through the Plant Kingdom!

Have you ever wanted to become an adventurer? In this workshop, you can: join us as we explore the jungle found right at Cornell! We’ll explore the many different types of plants found there, and highlight the exciting, exotic, and important plants. You will see plants that make pretty flowers, a plant that doesn’t make roots, stems, or leaves, plants that make medicine, and plants that move! We will also discover how plants develop (P.S. it’s different from animals!) and show you how to identify flowering plants in the wild.

Note: Pollen and plant allergens.

2. 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!

3. Beyond Bacon: Why Fats are So Important

Fats are a major component of some of our favorite foods, from bacon, to ice cream, French fries, and potato chips, but that is not all that fats are or do. This workshop delves into the amazing world of unique roles that they play in our bodies. Fats help keep animals warm in the winter, hold your body’s cells together, keep you from turning into a mummy, and so much more. Join us to learn how they do it!

4. 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!

5. Can You Hear the Light?

Have you ever wondered how electrical engineers design all these different electronic devices? Would you like to build and design your own electronic device? Come to our workshop and you will get to build an electrical musical instrument! Come and learn about the exciting field of electrical engineering!

6. 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!

7. 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’!

8. Digestive Detectives!

Have you ever wondered what your food was made of? Do you like to solve mysteries and do science experiments? Are you interested in how health care professionals discover diseases? If you answered yes to any of these questions, sign up for our workshop, Digestion Detectives! We'll take a very close look at what carbohydrates, fats, and proteins do in our bodies, and find out what happens when things go wrong!

9. Exploring Math: Patterns and Puzzles

Do you know how to win games every time? Or how to calculate and maximize your chances of winning a game? Or what happens when you can teleport across the board while playing tic-tac-toe? We will explore these ideas using twists on common games to introduce notions of strategy and mathematical analysis.

10. Fantastic Photons

Have you ever wondered how cell phones work? Or how scientists measure the distance to the moon? How holograms make images magically appear? The answer to all of these questions is LIGHT. Come explore the fantastic properties of photons and learn how scientists and engineers use light to make awesome new technologies!

11. Fueling Your Gut Reactions!

Fueling your gut reactions
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!

12. 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!

13. Get a Kick Outta Mechanics

Running, jumping, and playing all come from the functionality of our knee joint. This activity will give you insight into the physiology and anatomy of your knee by teaching you the engineering design process of building a DIY prosthetic knee!

14. Googling with Paper Airplanes

Googling with airplanes
Googling with 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!

15. Healing Health: When Engineering Meets Medicine

What does a thermometer have in common with a surgical robot? What about a bandage and a hip replacement? They’re all medical devices! Designed to treat all kinds of injuries and illnesses, these tools are all around us and have improved your life in some way. Have you ever wondered about how these devices are made and the types of people involved? Come explore these life-saving gadgets by designing and testing your own medical devices!

16. 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. Girls should wear clothes they do not mind getting dirty

17. How Do Robots Think: Finding Your Way Through Programming

Computers have taken over the world! We put them in our TVs and cars and refriger- ators now, and then call these devices smart. But computers aren't really that smart at all! They're just very good at following directions. Programming is the name for giving computers directions that they can understand to do their jobs. In this workshop, we will teach you the basics of writing programs that give robots directions on how to move and find their way from place to place.

18. Materials in the House

Plastic is everywhere in your household and can have all different shapes, sizes, and properties! In this workshop, you will learn about the different types of plastics by making Nylon and Slime, extracting DNA from strawberries, and shattering CDs to learn how these materials are made, why they perform the way they do, and how they break down.

19. Program Your Own Animation

Do you love 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 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!

20. 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!

21. Reverse Your Tastebuds

Reverse your tastebuds
Reverse your tastebuds

How do we differentiate the tastes of so many different foods? How does our tongue work to allow us to taste sweet, salty, or sour? Wouldn't it be nice if vegetables tasted sugary sweet? Well, maybe they can! The miracle berry fruit contains a compound that will turn your taste buds upside down! With this workshop, discover the science behind taste and the molecular signaling events that make it all possible.

22. Somebody Call the Plant Doctor!

Somebody call the plant doctor
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!

23. Squeaky Clean Brains

Have you ever wondered what the Ice Bucket challenge was really about or where all the money raised was going? Perhaps you wondered what the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s disease looks like or what causes the disease? Wonder no more! Cells are like a city and they can’t function if the garbage is not cleaned off the streets. Cells in our body even have specialized “garbage trucks” that are needed to maintain our health. In this workshop, you will be responsible for removing litter from a brain until it’s squeaky clean before it’s too late! Come learn what brain cells do to stay clean, and how cellular garbage can otherwise cause diseases like ALS and Alzheimer’s.

24. 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!

25. The Physics of Bubbles

Physics of bubbles
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-Ring Time Detectives
Tree-Ring Time Detectives

Tree-rings are time capsules that can tell us stories about past climate, environment, and 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 unlock the past. Come use your own tree-ring detective skills to sleuth out the histories of local trees, learn how to dig up timber from ancient environments, and even use tree-rings to spot forged paintings!

27. Up, Up, and Away

Nature may not have given humans a way to fly, but luckily science did! In this workshop, we will explore the science behind airplanes, rockets, and how humans learned to fly.

9th Grade Workshop Descriptions

Schedules will be available on the day of the conference.

28. 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, measure, and band live birds in our mist nets!

Note: Animal allergens

29. 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

30. Outbreak Investigators!

Outbreak investigators
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. Slime, Stretch, and Smash: Polymers and Properties

Polymers are everywhere: the circuit boards in your computer, the eraser at the end of your pencil, a lot of the food you eat— even your DNA is a polymer! So, what makes all of these materials act so differently? Explore how the structure of polymers, along with other physical and chemical factors, influence their properties, and why scientists work so hard to understand them!

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. 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!