Workshops 2023

TRACK 1 – Paleontology, Neuroscience, Chemistry

Can You Dig It? Fossil Finding 101

Fossils can be a really important resource, not just for understanding what the Earth looked like millions of years ago but also for understanding the relationships between organisms and how we’ve come to be where we are today! This workshop will be a hands-on introduction to paleontology; participants will learn how to identify potential dig sites on a map using clues and will participate in a “mini fossil dig.”

How do we perceive and memorize information about the world we live in?

This workshop seeks to instill a greater appreciation for how various parts of the brain work through interactive games and discussion. By the end of the workshop, students will know more about the different types of memory, brain regions involved in information processing, and how the brain can change its wiring to learn new information.

Spot and Sniff: The Science Behind Scented Markers

Make the chemistry of markers make “scents”! Learn about formulation chemistry and how it can create some of our favorite things, including scented markers. Participants will conduct an experiment to uncover the complex mixtures behind their favorite marker colors and watch how chemistry can transform common chemicals into fun scents!

TRACK 2 – Food Science, Computer Science, Medicine

Science of Beverages!

Learn from three female food scientists about how beverages are formulated! Participants will be taught the basics of food science and will apply that knowledge towards developing their own beverage. Through the course of the workshop, participants will formulate and run as many trials (and taste tests!) as needed, just like a Food Scientist would, to create their final beverage!

Cracking (and Crafting!) the Genetic Code

Craft the genetic code through this workshop which will consist of two components. In the first component, participants will decode a stretch of DNA by hand and turn a string of amino acids into a bracelet. The second part of the workshop will be a coding activity where participants will be shown how decoding DNA can be done much faster using a computer.

The Electromechanical Properties of the Heart

In this workshop, participants will explore how the human heart is designed and functions, both mechanically and electrically. They will participate in activities where they will construct their own model of the heart with simple household items such as containers, water, straws, and Play-Doh.

TRACK 3 – Neuroscience, Natural Science, Physics

Understanding your brain: Neurogenetics and Gene Editing

In this workshop, participants will learn about the central dogma of life (DNA → RNA → protein) as well as tools, such as CRISPR and Optogenetics, which the field uses to control DNA and perform genetic manipulations. Then, participants will help perform DNA extractions and observe C. elegans (a type of roundworm!) models of ALS and Unc-3 mutants to observe how mutation at the DNA level leads to locomotion output deficits.

Exploring Natural Sciences

Geology, plant ecology, and meteorology all in an hour: This workshop will introduce participants to three different disciplines of natural science. Activities include creating a scientific journal entry on underwater volcanoes, collecting ticks to learn about the ecosystem, and investigating documented films of hurricanes.

Measuring the Speed of Light with Chocolate

Particle physicists study what the universe is made of and how it is structured. In this workshop, we will measure the speed of light with very simple tools: a microwave oven, a ruler, a bar of chocolate, and a calculator!

TRACK 4 – Chemistry, Medicine, History/Social Sciences

Foam Gnomes Polymer Reactions

Interested in learning about chemical reactions? In this workshop, participants will suit up in goggles and gloves to partake in a hands-on experiment to determine the chemical and physical changes that occur when two polymers are mixed together. 

Communication Station: How hormones help our cells communicate!

In this workshop, participants will be taught the basics of endocrinology and how hormones are linked to many of our daily behaviors, actions, and emotions. The participants will also work together and take on roles as research coordinators to help treat a patient with sleep insomnia.

Traditional Medicinal Food Cultures: Tea as Medicine

This workshop will provide historical context of ways that different societies and cultures have utilized herbs, spices, plants, and tea as medicine. We will explore the medicinal uses of these natural products and also smell samples of fresh herbs and spices. Participants will get to make their own tea bags and we will discuss the rise of traditional or Eastern medicine in the past century that has caused a resurgence of thinking about how humans interact with our natural world.

TRACK 5 – Engineering, Natural Science, Biology

Strong Things

Why was the Eiffel tower constructed the way it was? Why are bridges not just a plank of wood that connects two land masses? How can rope, an assembly of strings, be so strong? These are the questions we will address together as we try to gain more insight into the different ways scientists and engineers design and construct strong things.

Keeping it Real: Exploring Specimens and Analyzing Data to Study the Impact of Climate Change on Local Butterfly Species

This workshop will use real specimens and data to study the impact of climate change on local butterfly species. Participants will look at what caused the change in the Karner blue butterfly population at the Indiana Dunes by collecting and analyzing data to identify patterns of change in the Karner blue butterfly’s life history and morphology across temperature differences.

Peeling-off Banana DNA

Learn about DNA, one of the most essential molecules of life, in this hands-on workshop! Each participant will extract DNA from a banana and will also learn about the scientific method in the process.