This July marks the second summer of the Eureka! program, which is a partnership between Girls, Inc. of Holyoke and UMass’s College of Natural Sciences (CNS). Approximately 50 rising 8th and 9th graders from the Holyoke area come to UMass all day, 4 days a week, for 4 weeks. They participate in STEM workshops created by UMass/5 College faculty and graduate students along with health and wellness education in the UMass dining halls and recreation center. Gov. Deval Patrick hung out with the girls on July 11th, so, this program is pretty cool.
Outreach Co-Chair, Arianne Bazilio, showing the girls what Natural Organic Matter looks like in our water.
GWIS created and participated in not one, but TWO workshops with the girls, because we love communicating our love of STEM and inspiring others! In our water quality workshop, “What’s In Your Water?” the girls put on their lab coats and were budding scientists with their meticulously labeled beakers and recorded data from a UV Spectrometer. They observed the calcification of leaf leachate (water with leaves left overnight to release natural organic matter (NOM), much like tea making). The girls also watched water being clarified before their eyes through alum coagulation and water NOT being clarified through a household water filter pitcher!
The girls at work!
After a while, the girls started to enjoy working with the pillbugs! Our GWIS volunteer, Aditi Naik, looks on.
After their wet-lab experience, the next day was learning about animal behavior observation methods that scientists can use in the lab or the field. In “Playing with Pillbugs: Experimental Design and Animal Behavior,” the girls learned about pillbug morphology, behavior, and natural habitat. With that knowledge, they created hypotheses about pillbug food and habitat preference, recorded observations, calculated averages, and the group graphed their results! Most of the girls were initially not excited to touch the pillbugs, but by the end of the workshop, they were letting the pillbugs crawl on their hands, or, less afraid, an improvement nonetheless!
GWIS Outreach Co-chair, Amy Ryan, talks with the girls about their pillbug experimental design!
Are you interested in creating a STEM workshop or participating in one? Keep an eye out on the blog for our next outreach efforts, or sign up for GWIS emails!