The birds begin to sing. The green sprouts come alive. All sounds like spring has come, but it never gets warmer. Only nature knows it is spring, but our girls have found warmth in the season with awesome scientists! This past March, we welcomed this new season with a DNA extraction. This wasn’t just a DNA extraction, but our girls had an opportunity to look into monkey’s reality—species they have eaten.
Ms. Liz who is currently working at a Northwestern lab with monkeys brought a data collection from monkey’s poops—yes, deepest reality. Followed by a DNA extraction, the girls were looking at the data and found what kind of species each monkey have eaten, which was quite a lot of work. “I see, this guy had strawberries,” Taneeyah said; from another table, “We found ours had eaten bananas and spinach.” Every time the girls found a species or two, they began an invisible competition—who has found those first. We never knew monkey’s poops would bring such excitement!
Our “invisible” competition continued with Ms. Amy on the following Tuesday. Ms. Amy is a civil engineer at Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago. She brought something very practical, which is true science and the girls had a full attention on what she does. Something that prevents flooding and waters overflowing from the lake or river. Can you guess what it is? Yes, it’s called a levee, and it makes our lives much safer. Yes, a levee may not sound very scientific, but it’s this practical application of science that keeps all of us safe.
Back to Ms. Amy’s lesson, she gave us a bit of score system as the girls created their levees: *1pt for “under-budget” *1pt for sustainability, “no use of plastic bags” *1pt for each inch of water your levee holds. As you can imagine, these limits and scores wonderfully set our “invisible” competition.
Each group of two or three girls began to sketch and design first, skills which we all acquired at the Dyson workshop. They also had to create a budget for all the supplies they would need. Each and every one of us took this project very seriously, discussing with partners and asking questions. Thirty minutes later, all groups had their first test and had rebuilt their levees. Then came that time, time to have a flood, a true test of our levees. We took our containers with our levees in it to the sink and tested to see if ours was stable. Oh, I wish they all were… two of them were very fragile and couldn’t hold the flood when it hit high. Yet, the one without plastic bags used stood still when the water hit high (though it did eventually fall, it withstood for quite some time). That day was quite a learning experience for all of us; it left us speechless in awe. We always love experiencing “real” science that keeps us steady. Thank you, dear scientists, for your time and all your hard, amazing work.
Written By: Bori Kim