March 14th brought young women and volunteers from around the area to Seattle University for another year of Seattle Expanding Your Horizons (SEYH). During 50 minute workshops, groups of middle school girls could try anything from designing planes to extracting their own DNA. This year, WCS ran last year’s CSI workshop as well as a new workshop on astrochemistry and the Mars rover. In our workshops, girls used qualitative chemistry tests and physical observations to figure out answers to two questions: who dumped toxic waste into the Puget Sound, or could any of the rocks collected at a crater site have come from Mars?
One of the best things about our organization, is the opportunity not only to participate in outreach programs but also to develop our own projects. When it was first mentioned that we had enough people interested in SEYH to develop a second workshop, I knew I wanted to work on a Mars rover workshop, but didn’t have any ideas where to begin. But with the help of some incredibly cool and very inventive members (a huge shout out to VP Heidi, who guided me through the whole process and was generally the best co-leader), we pulled together a great workshop that not only let the girls do science experiments but also tied those experiments to real tests that Curiosity did on Mars. And, much like real science, we designed a workshop that didn’t have a correct answer, which let everyone draw their own conclusions about which rock could be from Mars.
I think the fun we had making the workshop definitely came through in the final result. As a member of the astrochemistry workshop, I got to talk about lasers and flame tests all morning. I heard a lot of “whoa”s, “cool”s, and even “shiny”s that day (it helped that one of the rock samples sprinkled rock glitter over your hands even time you touched it). Even if they learned nothing else that day, I hope we showed people that science comes in many different forms, most of them pretty fun.
So thanks to Brigit Miller, Kimberly Davidson, Kimberly Hartstein, Kalkena Sivanesam, Olivia Lenz and Jessica Wittman, who all volunteered with the CSI workshop, and Heidi Nelson, Zuzana Culakova, Kira Hughes, Katie Corp, Beth Mundy, Scott Rayermann, and Addie Kingsland for their work designing and/or running the Mars rover workshop.