At Ariel this February, despite having one day off for President’s Day, we had a jam-packed month! Every week we had a new STEM Professional in our program, and we learned about so many different careers in the STEM fields! If you have been following Miss Meghan on Instagram, you have been able to keep up with all the incredible women who have come and shared their careers and research with us over the last month!
The first week in February Katherine Silliman, a Ph.D candidate from the University of Chicago studying the effects of global warming and excess CO2 in the air on mollusk populations in the Pacific Northwest region! Miss Katherine showed us how increased CO2 in the water makes it more acidic even in a very short amount of time. She put Bromothymol Blue Indicator in just regular cups of water, and we each blew bubbles into the cup for a minute. The indicator is blue in regular water but turns more yellow when it turns acidic. The girls were amazed when after the minute of blowing bubbles the water turned greenish! “Wait it’s because our breath is made of CO2 when we blow out! So it’s turning it acidic!” said Cody. We then talked about how they think different levels of acidity might affect marine life, since that is Miss Katherine’s research. Miss Katherine brought us real mollusk shells that she has been experimenting on for weeks. Each mollusk shell had been placed in slightly different levels of pH sea water 4 weeks ago, and she had a beginning weight on each one. The girls then had to weigh each one to see what happened when the pH levels changed. “In the lower pH cups, the acid ones, the mollusk shells weighed less!” Laniya observed. The girls were able to see first-hand how air pollution might effect sea life since shells that weigh less might get crushed more easily and the animal would die. It allowed the girls to think about the direct impact of global warming on living creatures.
The next week Becca Thompson another student from the University of Chicago studying chemistry came in to show us a small portion of her research. Miss Becca brought a bunch of different samples of element lights, like a Neon light, and she taught us how each element has a different light pattern, kind of like a fingerprint. When we looked through the light diffractor we could see different color stripes for each element. At first, it was frustrating to get the angle right, but as soon as everyone figured out the right angle you could hear gasps of amazement echoing through the room.
The week after President’s Day, Munah Gwyan a Civil Engineer came in and taught us about what goes into putting a simple road in a town. She had us act out different parts of a town hall meeting that would happen in a real town to put a new road in! “I never knew so many people were involved in making one little road happen, I thought they just put it in!” said Chelsara. February was such a fun month full of inspiring STEM Professionals, and we are so excited for the next two months of Sisters4Science.
Written By: Meghan Bagley