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Student Workshops for 2023

Have you participated in any of the workshops before? Please note that the workshops offered in the past will present the same contents as they did last year.

7th and 8th Grade Workshop Descriptions

1. Air, water and nature: oh my!


What do air, honey, and water all have in common? They are all fluids! Though often invisible to our eyes, the fluids in our lives are constantly in motion and are needed for all living things to survive. Come join us as we find ways to look at these fluids and see how they interact with plants, insects, and each other!

2. Baffling Bugs at the Cornell University Insect Collection


Ever heard of a bug scientist? We welcome you to the wonderful world of entomology, where you can study anything with 6 legs! The Cornell University Insect Collection is home to over 7 million creepy crawlies. Join us in learning how to identify and curate insect specimens. As a bonus: you can take home your very own pinned insect.

3. Beyond Bacon: Why Fats are So Important

Chemistry: Chemical biology

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


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. Bouncing into Polymer Chemistry


Making useful items like sticky glue, rechargeable batteries, and plant-based plastic is all part of polymer chemists’ daily jobs. In our workshop, we’ll explore how chemists string together long chains of atoms to create polymers, and how they build different materials from these polymer chains. Come make your own custom stretchy slime and bouncy balls from polymers, which you can take home with you!

6. 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 real human and (touch!) animal brains.

7. Cell City Relay

Biology: Cell biology

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 relay race. You’ll also get to stain a slide with your own cells and see different cell types under the microscope!

8. Colorful Chemistry Detectives


You’ve probably used different brands of black markers before, but did you know that although they all look black on paper, each company uses different mixtures of dyes? Explore the chemistry of colorful dyes by making your own dye from crushed bugs, study the effect of chemical interactions on your dye, and make some fun art along the way! As a synthetic chemistry detective, see if you can use the technique of chromatography to figure out the brand of your mystery marker and then mystery solved!

9. cool_beat.exe

Computer Science

Music? From code?! Our workshop will answer both of these questions with a *resounding* yes! In it, we are going to learn how to program synths and beats using a language called SonicPi. Come and make a .wav file full of cool vibes and good memories! 🎵😎

10. Enigmatic Magnetics


What do computer memory, hydroelectric power and electric cars have in common? Magnetism! Magnetism is used every day to encode information on computers, harvest clean energy to power our cities and power electric cars. Explore how the technology of tomorrow will use magnets!

11. 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.

12. Fabricating Fab Fabrics

Fiber Science

We cannot make it through a single day without interacting with fabrics, but have you ever wondered how the different fabrics are made or which ones are chosen for different applications? In this workshop, students will learn how woven and knit fabrics are formed by BECOMING a human weaving loom and circular knitting machine. They will also explore how variations in fiber choice and fabric structure affect the final properties and applications.

13. Fueling Your Gut Reactions


Did you know that there are TRILLIONS of tiny microbes living inside your gut? Scientists refer to this community of microbes as the gut microbiome. Join us to learn about the chemical reactions these microbes carry out, both inside your intestines and during the production of some of our favorite foods!

14. Googling with Paper Airplanes

Computer Science

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. 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!

16. Reverse Your Taste Buds


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.

17. Search and Destroy: Call of Duty - Advanced Tumor Warfare

Biomedical Engineering

Are you interested in biomedical engineering, being a doctor, or just fascinated with science in general? Look no further! In this activity, you will dive into the world of biomedical imaging by learning about how doctors can locate tumors in the body using fluorescent particles! Then, as an engineer, you will design your own surgical tools before becoming a neurosurgeon and conducting brain surgery on a gelatin brain to help remove a tumor in the best way possible!

18. 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 strawberries, and making your potatoes a rotten mess!

19. Squeaky Clean Brains


Almost ten years ago, the Ice Bucket challenge went viral, generating millions of dollars to help fund research for ALS. In this workshop, we dive into the science behind neurodegenerative disorders such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Perhaps you’ve wondered how these diseases affect the brain and what causes them to arise. Wonder no more! Cells, just like people living in a city, produce garbage. Cells can’t function if the garbage is not cleaned off the streets. Therefore, cells in our body use specialized “garbage trucks” to remove this cellular garbage to maintain our health. In this workshop, you will be responsible for removing litter from the 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. Plant Domestication and Adaptation: A Seed Dispersal Game


Become an ancient plant and adapt your “seeds” for dispersing in the wild, then, become a modern plant and domesticate your “seeds” to help early farmers make plants more suitable for agriculture in a 10,000 year long process called plant domestication.

26. Searching for aliens!


Astronomers have found thousands of planets around stars beyond our Sun, and some of those alien worlds might be home to alien life! But how difficult is it to look for aliens? And how do scientists know what to look for? In this workshop, we’ll explore how life on Earth can help answer those questions. We’ll test mysterious samples to search for signs of life—and then figure out how astrobiologists try to find these signs on faraway planets in other solar systems!

9th Grade Workshop Descriptions

Schedules will be available on the day of the conference.

20. Alien Worlds


Did you know that scientists have discovered thousands of alien worlds orbiting stars just like our Sun? Scientists make these discoveries using space telescopes such as JWST and Kepler. Come build a working mini-JWST to observe extra-terrestrial eclipses and learn how astronomers use these observations to learn about distant worlds. We’ll also show you how to become a citizen scientist and take part in real scientific research discovering exoplanets from the comfort of your own home!

21. Build your own microscope and explore what your eyes don't see!


Have you ever wondered how things look beyond what your eyes let you see? How fun would it be if you had your own microscope, simple yet powerful enough for exploring the microscopic world with you on the go? Attend this workshop where you can build an origami-inspired mini microscope using paper and lenses! We will use the microscopes we build to look at biological samples and see what types of cells are in an orange, a flower, and your body! You will also be able to take your microscope back home with you to continue exploring the microscopic world.

22. Electrifying Chemistry


How do submarines replenish their oxygen? What about the International Space Station? How are scientists trying to fuel cars with water? Join us to learn about how we can use electricity to power chemical reactions. In this workshop you will construct your own electrochemical cell and use it to split apart water molecules and deposit metals!

23. Holey Cow

Animal Science

How do cows turn hay into milk? Come meet Sunny, our fistulated cow, and explore a cow’s stomach and experience aspects of life as a dairy cow. Learn what cows eat and how food gets digested. You will get to place your hand in a cow's stomach (called a rumen) and look at its contents under a microscope. NOTE: Dairy products, hay, fur, latex involved. Students should wear clothes they do not mind getting dirty.

25. Program Your Own Animation!

Computer Science

Do you love animated movies? 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 interactive and fun effects! Come make animations and discover how the inner details of programming can help you create!

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!

28. World Builders


What if we did a science experiment on COUNTRIES to figure out what they should do to make their people better off? That could be useful, but also impossible (and probably unethical!) So how about instead we run experiments on models of countries? Join us for a role-playing game where you can be a country deciding what to trade. See how a simple game can teach us why the US buys so many goods from other countries. We’ll also play a game (with prizes!) to learn why things like national defense, public parks, weather prediction, and broadcast television cannot be provided by private companies in the same way as, for example, telephone service or cable television can be.

Previous Years’ Workshops