Workshops 2019

Workshops for Girls

Track 1

Disease Detectives

Reba Abraham – University of Chicago

In this workshop, you will learn about how doctors use microscopes to detect disease! We will talk about how microscopes work and how to use a paper microscope (Foldscope). With these tools, you will get to see what organs, like bone marrow, intestines, and blood, look like when you zoom in. At the end of the workshop, you’ll get to take the Foldscope home and use your new skills to explore the world around you.

Make Your Own Radio

Pratiti Deb & Christina Wicker – University of Chicago

Ever wonder how or why your radio works? How does it mysteriously manage to play your favorite tunes with nothing more than a small piece of metal? Come find out in this fun, interactive workshop where you can build your own radio and use it to listen to real radio stations. Take your own radio home to show your friends and look for radio waves around your home!

Dancing With Math

Dani Tucker & Alexa Lee-Hassan – University of Illinois at Chicago

Math is so much more than memorizing formulas and performing calculations to find a “right” answer. Did you know math occurs naturally all around you? Math even lives in dance! From ballet, to football halftime shows, to Bollywood, dance is full of shapes and patterns that can be described using math. Join us for an exciting workshop where we explore shapes and movements and learn about scales and symmetries. You won’t want to miss our final hands-on dance activity where we mix it all together!

Track 2

What is the Microbiome and Why Do We Need It?

Ande Hesser & Cathryn Nagler – University of Chicago

You can’t see them, you can’t feel them, but there are millions of bacteria and other tiny organisms that live in and on your body all the time! But don’t be scared, most of them are actually working hard to help you stay healthy! The collection of these protective bacteria is called the microbiome: in this workshop we’ll show you how different foods you eat can hurt your microbiome and actually cause you to get sick. We’ll figure out the best menu to feed our tiny bacterial friends, and you’ll learn what you can do to help you and your microbiome stay healthy.

Webcomix Remix

Tina Shah – Art Institute of Chicago

Tell your story through the web! Remix HTML code and your choice of images to create a web comic that represents you. You’ll learn how to build a basic web page and tips on how to make it your own.

I Like To Move It, Move It!

Kristina Fialko & Chloe Nash – University of Chicago

You use movement every day- when you laugh, wave to your friends, and dance around! Your movement can change depending on where you are and who you’re around. Do you dance differently to different music? Do you throw a tennis ball the same way you throw a basketball? The way that you move can send different messages, and different people have different movements! Animals do the same thing. In this workshop, you will learn about what differences in motion can mean and try out the tools that scientists use to explore motion, like slow-motion video.

Track 3

Plantastic! The Wonderful World of Plants

Christina Carrero & Bethany Zumwalde – 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.

1..2..3 Learn to Code

Zohra Shaik & Shabana Shaik – Arman Academy

Do you love to code but think that programming is hard to learn? Does the prospect of coding intimidate you? Let us show you how easy it is to start coding! We will teach you how to write a complete computer program and create a simple calculator.

Modular Mayhem

Amanda Lo – Skender

Creating models is the way of the future! Think like an architect – you will learn about scale, materials, and circulation in a space. Design and create a model of your own apartment unit with real samples of paint, tile, and flooring; then ship it out to the site to combine with others in your group to construct a complete building.


Track 4

Viral Infection and How Your Body Fights Back

Anya Nikolai & Sarah Feid – Loyola Women in Science

Have you had the flu before? Are you interested in health sciences or becoming a doctor? Do you want to understand how your body fights viral infections like the flu or how vaccines work? If you said yes to any of these questions, 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!​

Machine Learning: Teaching a Computer to Learn

Mary Kate – Pariveda Solutions

Do you think a computer would say hi to you if you waved at it or say your name if it saw your face? Maybe not at first, but what if you could teach it to recognize these things? In this workshop, we’ll explore how you can teach a computer using tools from Amazon and Google.

Molecular Tinker Toys for Water Purification

Riki J. Drout & Lee Robison – Northwestern University

By 2025, half of the world’s population will live in water stressed areas. Removal of heavy metals, fertilizers, and dyes is often necessary for humans to safely drink from local water sources. In this workshop, you will learn how to make molecular tinker toys to remove contaminants and toxins from water. Join us to learn how to design these molecular materials for making drinking water safe.


Track 5

Neuroscience: Studying the Brain and How it Works

Hayley White & Kristen Warren – Northwestern University Brain Awareness Outreach

Ever wondered how our brain allows us to move, sense, and think? Neuroscience is the study of the brain and nervous system and how they function in our daily lives. Join our workshop to learn how the brain controls movement using prism goggles, how our brain senses taste and smell with jellybeans, listen to real neurons talk to each other in a cockroach leg, and touch a real live brain!

Think Like an Engineer

Alexandra Rodriguez-Beuerman, Elva Car & Liz Miller – Society of Women Engineers

Chicago is known for its impressive structures, and while the structures in Chicago are often made of concrete, metal, and other heavy materials, we can make our own impressive structures out of simple everyday items. In this workshop, we will teach you how to make everyday items stronger and how the city stands so tall.


Geometric Gems and Fantastic Plastic: Draw Your Own Jewelry!

Aushra Abouzeid – Northwestern University

Geometry appears everywhere in art and architecture, in computer graphics and in the natural world. Learn how to easily create and make your own beautiful geometric drawings with just a compass, colored pencils, and shrinking plastic. Wear your creations as jewelry or display them as hand-made mathematical art!


Track 6

DNA: Discovering New Adventures

Erin McGinnis and Vicki Sanders – Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Have you ever wondered what humans and strawberries have in common? They both have unique sets of “DNA”, the blueprint that cells use to build everything they need. In this workshop, you will learn how to extract DNA from a strawberry! Not only will you get the opportunity to feel like a genetic laboratory scientist, but you will also be introduced to the profession of genetic counseling. Genetic counselors are specialized health care providers that help educate patients and physicians about genetic conditions, like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, etc, and how they might impact someone’s health.

Let’s Make Paper Circuits

Elsa Soto, Megan Dague & Ariel Maret – UIC Women in Engineering

Did you know that electricity flows through circuits and can be found everywhere, including devices like our cell phones and tablets? Learn how to make your own circuit and light up a fun greeting card or piece of art!

Chocolate and the Speed of Light

Jennifer Raaf – Fermilab

The particles that make up our universe are even smaller than atoms, and we cannot see most of them by eye or even with microscopes. One such type of particle 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 7

Fun with Flu

Rahul Subramanian & Qixin He – University of Chicago

Have you ever had the flu? Have you ever wondered why people get a flu shot every year?  In this workshop, you’ll learn how infectious diseases like influenza spread in human populations by “infecting” your classmates (don’t worry, you won’t actually get sick) and how your body’s immune system fights back! We’ll explore how getting a flu shot protects both you and the people around you from getting sick, and how preventing outbreaks of diseases like the flu requires a combination of biology, medicine, public policy, and a little bit of math!

Speak(er) Your Mind!

Emily Smith & Lipi Gupta – University of Chicago

Electromagnets are used in computers, headphones, and research to study small particles, like electrons. We will teach you how to use wire to build your own electromagnet and make your own working speaker to play your favorite songs!

Magnet Magic

Liz Moog & Anne Marie March – Argonne National Lab

When you hear of magnets, you think “opposites attract same repel”, but in this workshop, we’ll investigate some other magnetic effects, such as creating electrical currents and manipulating moving objects. Some of these demos will look like magic tricks, but there’s no magic — only physics! And, unlike a magic show, you will learn why and how it all works.

Track 8

Foam Gnomes: Intro to Polymer Reactions

Dr. Crystalann Jones – Damping Technologies

Be a polymer chemist for the day and help us to form Polyurethane Foam through the crosslinking reaction of two polymer chains. We will combine materials to form gases, generate heat, change colors and expand liquids in our quest to understand all the chemical and physical changes that occur during this chemical reaction. We will determine if these changes can be reversed and create a Foam Gnome character for each student to take home as a reminder of all you learned in your day as a polymer scientist.

Engineer a Glowing Toy


Learn about electrical engineering and how to make a glowing toy.  You will use conductive thread, LEDs, and other items to create a complete circuit that will make your stuffed toy light up when you press a button!

Interstellar Communication

Patricia Larsen & Lindsey Bleem – Argonne National Laboratory

Ever wanted to communicate with alien civilizations? In this workshop you will work as teams of aliens to create and send your own messages between worlds. You will also learn how scientists send and look for messages from other civilizations in real life!