Author Archives: Sarah Floris

Edmonds Heights Outreach Event

Victor Lee, Abbie Ganas, and Katie Guye visited a local school during one of their science events, where they illustrated how different type of markers and pens are affected by mixtures of solvents on coffee filters. When these coffee filters are dried, these solvents create beautiful watercolor-like pictures. Similarly, the kids colored the book markers and then placed a drop of acetone on them and placed them in a bucket of water. The acetone then created different patterns on the book marker. These easy and fun demonstrations are a good way to teach children about diffusion and solubility. 

If you enjoy helping with children and show them how much science can be, we have several events coming up to give you the opportunity! Next week, we will also be at edmonds heights elementary on Friday, May 19th, at Penny Creek elementary. If that does not work for you, we will also have the Shoreline STEM Fest on that Saturday. See our calendar for more details or feel free to contact Abbie, our outreach coordinator, or any of the other officers for more info.


Dealing with Controversy: Science Communication to Nonscientists

Joy Delyria talked to us about easing the difficulties that scientific controversy presents. As a scientist, we are not here to change an individual’s mind using one conversation. I mean, if we do, that is awesome! However, realistically, that is usually not the case. Instead, each conversation is about portraying the science and exposing the common myths. 

When starting this type of conversation, she first suggests to access one’s audience. How are they currently standing on the issue? Are they venters, on the fence, or on board? Talking to each different type of individual requires a different approach. Based upon the response, we are then able to establish frames of reference for audience. 

The second major subject is the potential traps that need to be avoided. A story about cute critters, for example, tries to invoke empathy by creating a narrative. However, this story solely focuses on a tiny aspect of the issue at hand and makes the audience feel as if they are being manipulated. Another important trap to avoid is the crisis or doom and gloom stories that tend to overshadow the subtle message of the talk and to explain the issue at matter too complicated and too difficult to understand. This type of trap also mainly focuses on incidents and accidents as evidence, which does not support scientific discussions.

While these conversations are occurring, some things are to be advised. Most importantly, it is vital to listen to what they are saying, and making comments that assure that. This usually means that the audience is more willing to listen rather than shutting down the argument immediately. Secondly, scientific concepts need to be clarified using good metaphors. Typically, scientists would show the effects of CO2 as part of the green house gases that would heat up the earth whereas a simple example of a blanket would suffice and be more relatable to layman. Creating more CO2 gas is like a blanket; the more layers you put on it, the hotter it gets. Secondly, addressing their values is important in this conversation. Do they personally feel responsible for the environment? Or do they feel more responsible for the community? Addressing these values of responsible management and stewardship would encourage a more positive conversation about the environment.

In conclusion, Joy reminds us that it is not up to us as individuals to change one’s opinion. What we can do, however, is to collectively show them our scientific perspective on these controversial issues in a positive manner. And this by itself is considered success.




Member Meeting March, 27th

Here is a quick overview on what we discussed in our last member meeting. First, Beth started off by  talking about Joy Delyria From PSC who gave a workshop at lunch on Friday 3/31 on how to talk to nonscientists about “controversial” topics. Then, Emily Myers from 500 Women Scientists introduced the 500 Women Scientists and gave the opportunity to join this wonderful group. If you are interested in joining this group, please email Beth then announced that Donna Nelson will join us for a lecture series at some point in the next two years. Katie C. was informing us for the multiple workshops occurring in DICE. Then, we were doing brainstorming for possible collaborations between WCS and Free Radicals, the chemistry interest club and honor society at the University of Washington; two main ideas were the panels that were given and trivia which occurred last year. Beth said to think about the nominations for WCS Annual Lecture; these nominations will open up within the next week or so. Coming to the conclusion of the meeting, Emily also is trying to set a date to give information about the RSO travel grant that can be obtained through WCS.

Mentor Network Night

During the mentor network social last friday, we were able to rent off the HUB Arcade and to play mario kart on the wii u, pool, and ping-pong ball. Additionally, we were able to rent off the party room and provide refreshments and snacks. Next time, we hope to see you at the mentor network social!

January 24, 2017: Member Meeting

The meeting was fairly short and included a variety of topics. The first major topic of discussion was the co-sponsoring of  oSTEM’s mental health workshop with Brenda Kessenich on February 9, 5 PM. We then changed the topic of conversation to the blog posts and writing of one for the March for Women. The officers were discussing who to select for the Dean’s Lecture and have not decided for certain. Lastly, Beth proposed a book to discuss during the Summer Book Club.


Women’s March

On January 21, 2017, several groups of students from the Chemistry department and WCS participated in the Women’s March to support women and their human rights. Rachel Boccamazzo, a senior biochemistry and biology undergraduate, provided an image, showing a small sample of the amount of individuals who were present on Jackson street. 

View from Jackson street towards downtown

The large population represents a common feeling among many women across the nation. Lizzy Canarie, a first year Chemistry PhD student, clearly described that the Women’s March “gave me hope in a time of anxiety and negativity.” These feelings are common during an uncertain time like this. Being able to openly express those feelings is important, and participating in the Women’s March is a good way to do so. Other opportunities include 10 actions in 100 days and March for Science. Women’s March started a campaign called 10 actions in 100 days. Every 10 days, they suggest an action to voice your opinion. If you would like more details, this link will lead you to their website: . The March for Science will be held April 22, 2017, and more details are to be followed. These are just a few ways in which we can voice our passions and rights as a woman and scientist.

Volunteer Opportunities!

Two phenomenal opportunities to express your love for science among kids!


  1. Echo Lake Science Night
    • Thursday, January 26th, from 5:00-8:30
    • Age Group: K-6
    • Pizza and cookies will be served!

If you want to help at this event, talk to Abbie, or one of the officers, before Wednesday January 18th at noon.

  1. Lake Forest Elementary Science Discovery Night
    • Wednesday, February 15th, from 5:00-8:30
    • Age Group: K-6
    • Pizza and snacks provided!
If you would like to volunteer for this event, talk to Abbie, or one of the officers, by Wednesday February 12th at noon.