Workshops 2018

Workshops for Girls

Track 1

Paleontology is Dino-mite
Jacquline Lungmus – University of Chicago

In this workshop we will learn about fossil organisms that lived throughout Earth’s history. We will discuss how paleontologists find fossils all over the world, and then take them back to our labs or museums to study. You will participate in an activity where you will practice putting the bones of fossil animals together, much like paleontologists have to with the fossils they find! In this dino-mite session we will explore how biology, geology, and anatomy all relate to the exciting field of paleontology.

Science is Delicious!
Linda Lan & Haley Dugan – University of Chicago; Megan Coffey – Candy Scientist

In this workshop, you will do fun edible science experiments like making ice cream with liquid nitrogen, making cheese from milk and lemon juice, and creating your own sour jelly candy that gels INSTANTLY. In addition, you will learn basic facts about phases of matter as well as acid reactions, how simple materials can be used to create new food, and will be able to eat some delicious work, too!  

Math and Dance
Aida Alibek & Sara Rezvi – University of Illinois at Chicago

Math is not just about memorizing formulas and doing calculations! Did you know that you can use math in dance? Join us for a fun workshop, where we will explore shapes and movements and learn about scales and symmetries. And then we will mix it all together in our exciting hands-on dancing activity!

Track 2

Coding With Robots!
Maria Power & Paige Brehm – Argonne National Laboratory

Teach a robot to complete a maze! Student teams of 3-4 will complete a series of fun challenges using a Lego Mindstorm EV3 robot. Coding is in a visual (block-based) language, so no previous robotics or coding experience is necessary.

Sticky and Stretchy: Material Properties in Everyday Life
Haneul Yoo & Cat Triandafillou – University of Chicago

Become a materials scientist for the day by using everyday items like flour and sugar to create interesting materials! We’ll measure density and elasticity, and then identify how these properties can impact both our daily lives and work in the lab.

Peeling of Banana DNA
Sezen Meydan & Tanja Florin – University of Illinois at Chicago

What makes roses beautiful, cockroaches creepy, bananas yellow, or you the way you are? A simple answer is “DNA”, the blueprint that cells use to build everything they need. Learn how to extract DNA from banana cells. Not only will you get the feeling of working in a research lab, but you will also learn how scientists use DNA to find new treatments for diseases, to catch criminals, and to find out who our great-great-grandparents were.

Track 3

Private Eye: Zoom In On Nature
Jody Simmons & Dana Simmons – University of Chicago

Join us as we zoom in on nature! In this workshop, you will look through a magnifying glass to observe patterns that are normally too small to see.  We will discuss and draw the structures you see under the magnifying glass, and find examples of similarly shaped patterns in macroscopic nature that are visible with the naked eye. You’ll have a chance to draw the microscopic patterns you see in shells, flower petals, fabrics, and other textures.

Engineering an Exoskeleton
Sonia Sanchez & Chara Nunnally – Project SYNCERE

An exoskeleton is a wearable device that can sense and measure how your body moves.  These devices are important for many medical conditions, especially those that could cause pain or weakness when moving. For your design challenge, you will be building an exoskeleton that can detect body movements with a sensor and notify the user with an indicator, all using electrical current and circuits.

Chocolate and the Speed of Light
Caterina Vernieri, J. Raaf, A.Canepa & C. Mills – FNAL

The particles that make up the universe are even smaller than atoms, and we cannot see most of them by eye or even with microscopes. One type of particle in the universe is called a photon, which is what we commonly call light. The speed of light in a vacuum is 299,792,458 meters per second (that’s 670,616,629 miles per hour!). In this workshop we will explore the nature of light and measure its speed with very simple tools: a microwave, a ruler, a bar of chocolate, and a calculator.

Track 4

Mapping the Future
Emily Zvolanek and Azucena Rodriguez – Argonne National Laboratory

Maps used to be tools to get us from one place to another; today they are so much more. In this workshop, you will learn how modern mapping is used to help people make decisions that will impact your community. You will learn about the different types of data used to make maps and how to find data to help plan a new community park.

Saving Species with Feces
Stacy Rosenbaum & Jill Mateo – Northwestern University

How do you learn about the health of animals you can’t touch, or sometimes even see? Join us and learn how scientists who study hormones and behavior monitor the health and stress of wild animals, from ground squirrels to gorillas. We’ll extract ‘hormones’ from poop (just fake poop) to learn more about how animals respond to changes like global warming and habitat disturbance.

Speak(er) Your Mind!
Lipi Gupta & Emily Smith – University of Chicago

Electromagnets are used in computers, headphones, and research to study small particles like electrons. Join us to build your own electromagnet from wire and magnets, and learn how it can be used to make your own working speaker! Take it home to show your friends and family how it works for playing your favorite songs!

Track 5

Microscopy For Everyone
Myriam McCoy & Glenn Shipley – Baxter Healthcare

In this workshop you will get the chance to see how easy, inexpensive, and exciting it is to look at interesting things all around you every day that are too small to see with the naked eye. You will be introduced to simple lenses and the compound microscope, and shown how to prepare your own microscope slides from materials and tools that cost pennies – literally! At the end, you will take home the slides you make yourself. Learn to SEE FOR YOURSELF the MICROSCOPIC world all around you! You can do it!  

Webcomic Remix
Tina Shah – Art Institute of Chicago

Remix HTML tags and images to tell a story through the web! In this workshop, you will learn basic HTML code and search for reusable images to create your own personalized web comic.

Viral Infection and How Your Body Fights Back
Abby Cannon & Anya Nikola- WINS

Have you ever had the flu? Are you interested in health sciences or becoming a doctor? Do you want to understand how your body fights viral infections or how vaccines work? If you said yes to any of this, sign up for “Viral Infection and How Your Body Fights Back” to conduct experiments to learn first hand how viruses spread between people and how your body and vaccines fight infection!​

Track 6

Hidden Signals
Kristina Fialko – University of Chicago

Take a look around yourself and note how many different colors you can see. Humans are unusual mammals because we are trichromats, meaning we have three types of cone cells that let us detect far more colors than something like a dog or a bear can. But there are other animals whose vision goes beyond our abilities, seeing in colors that are invisible to us. In this workshop, we’ll find out how our eyes use properties of light to see color and explore the hidden world of animal color vision.


Sharon Sintich, Raji Arora & Micaela Vargas – Young Women in Bio

Ever wonder how genetic messages are CODED from DNA?  Come join us in learning how to use amino acids to make your very own secret CODE. In this workshop you will solve the problem of creating your secret CODE message using computational thinking and abstraction while learning about the concepts of genetics and how proteins are made with some beads, string, and a computer.  

Stitches Get Switches
Yumin Wong & Erin Greenhalgh – Gamut

In this hands-on workshop, we combine the beauties of Art and Science by making our very own LED bracelets and LED flashlight-keychains. Join us as we embark on a journey of electric circuits, where we’ll learn how to sew with conductive thread and learn how to make various types of circuits with colorful LEDs and batteries. If we complete the circuit correctly, the LEDs will light up and you’ll have a super cool bracelet and keychain to show off to friends and family!

Track 7


Plantastic! The Wonderful World of Plants
Chai-Shian Kua, Lane Scher Silvia, Alvarez-Clare & Audrey Denvir – Morton Arboretum

If you look around, plants are everywhere! You are probably aware that plants give us oxygen, food, shelter, clothes, and more. It would not be possible to live without plants.  In this workshop, we will guide you through your exploration into the wonderful world of plants. We have designed several fun activities to introduce you to 3 important aspects of plant biology. You will learn : (1) How do plants drink water? (2) How do plants grow and how can we tell their age?, and (3) How do plants move around?  Come join us and become a budding plant scientist.

Made You Look!
Min Lee & Reba Abraham – University of Chicago

In a world with so much to see, our visual system is constantly busy trying to figure out the shapes, colors, and motion around us. Believe it or not, everything we see starts with just little particles of light that enter our eye. The information contained in these particles are sensed by the eyes and sent to the brain, where the wonders of neurons help us determine whether we are looking at a dog or a tree or a person. Come learn how our eyes and brains work together to help us see colors, 3D movies, and optical illusions!

Escape Room: Code Your Way Out!
Valerie Hall, Sarah Ritter & Jaclyne Hertzfeld – Pariveda Solutions

Using basic coding concepts, work with your team to solve a variety of problems to get out of the virtual escape room. In this workshop, you will learn basic logic structures for code, what an API is, and how to change the look of a website. With these new tools, and a few clues, you will work through a series of puzzles to escape the Room of Code!

Track 8

Lucy and the 3D printer
Kelsi Hurdle, April Neander & Dr. Amanda Smith – University of Chicago

Do you have a thing for fossils and have always wondered what our ancestors were like? Do you love technology and have a strong eye for detail? Then this is the workshop for you! In this workshop, you will learn how 3D printing works by designing and printing your own creation. You will also learn why this technology is essential for scientists by examining 3D printed versions of fossil hominins and discovering how our anatomy relates to that of our ancestors.

Becoming a Natural with Natural Products
Jessica Cleary & Katherine Zink – University of Illinois at Chicago

The world around us is filled with plants and animals that are all shapes, sizes, and colors. Many of these organisms release molecules in order to protect themselves from predators or survive in extreme environments. The chemical compounds the organisms release are examples of what we call natural products, which can be used as medicines to help you feel better when you are sick. In our workshop, you will explore the compounds released by living things by going on a natural products hunt!

Housing Hijinks
Amanda Lo, Victoria Johnson & Krista Neerdaels – Eckenhoff Saunders Architects

In this workshop you will have the opportunity to design and build your own apartment. Think like a designer – you will learn all about scale, materials, and circulation through a space. Lay out the rooms and furniture, select colors and finishes, and decide on how the outside should look. At the end, combine your unit with the others in your group to create a complete apartment building!