Thursday, July 28, 2016

SciGirls I 2016 - Day Nine

Shhhhhhh! Do you hear that? That is the sound of water flowing from Big Dismal Sink, the deepest sinkhole in the Woodville Karst Plain at 130 feet. SciGirls I, Day Nine, started with a 3.1 mile trek through the Leon Sinks Geological Area. Joined by hydrogeologist Greg Hitz, we conducted water testing at Turner Sink and Hammock Sink. The natural beauty of the sinkholes have been affected by leaching from septic tanks and lawn fertilizer; however, the landscape that is referred to as karst lead to stunning sights of traces of water that have flowed into, out of, and through the holes. Karst occurs as a result of deep erosion of a the limestone that is so prevalent in Florida. These girls were true troopers as we walked over the rugged terrain, even having to find our way over a few trees that had been cut down. It was all worth it though, as we then jumped in the vans and made a quick trip over to Jackson County for a refreshing dip at the Blue Springs Recreational Area. Blue Springs is a first magnitude spring noted for its crystal clear water and underwater caves. Here the spring flows at an average rate of 76 million gallons of water a day. After overcoming the initial chilly temperature, the girls launched themselves from the slide and somersaulted themselves from the springboard into the magnificence of the natural spring. Boy did they hate to leave, but we had one more appointment to keep - a light and refreshing treat from the hometown favorite, Milk and Honey! Then it was back to Tallahassee. Is it true that there is only one day left for SciGirls I 2016? Sadly, the answer is yes...we'll be expecting you.

SciGirls II 2016 Day 9

Today was an amazing day!! We spent the day at the Gulf Marine Specimen Lab in Panacea, FL. Once we got there, our tour guide, Amy, took us around the lab itself. We got to pick up and touch hermit crabs, sea urchins, sea stars, horseshoe crabs, fiddler crabs, and much more. Amy also fed some sharks and stingray. Both the sharks and stingray made quite a splash and some of us got splashed! All the while, Amy was telling us about the animals while feeding them. We also got to see an octopus actually change color in front of our eyes! We saw one loggerhead turtle that had been rescued, and it looks like it's doing pretty well, but may not have survived otherwise. After our tour at the lab, we went out to the "living dock." Here, the girls picked up stringers that had fouler communities of marine life on them. We learned that they are called fouler communities because if stuck to the bottom of ships, they can actually ruin the ships, creating a "foul." Here we found many baby crabs and even some ctenophore, which are stingless jellyfish! After lunch, we went out to the marsh and our girls got to experience seine fishing. They did a fantastic job and had so much fun! Most every girl that wanted to got a chance to use the net and there were smiles all around! We caught and threw back many sheepshead killi fish, shrimp, needlefish, and even more ctenophore. On the way home, we stopped at Sonic for drinks, shakes, and slushies. It was quite an experience you'll have to ask your SciGirls about! All in all, it was a very fun, educational day! We always have such a great time at the Gulf Marine Specimen Lab and we would like to thank Debbi Clifford and the staff there for another SciGirls amazing trip!\ Tomorrow, sadly, is our last day of camp! Our girls will be researching areas of science they are individually interested in and honing in on a career of their choice. We will also participate in an archeological dig and get ready for our reception for parents! Our reception is tomorrow night, 5:30, here at the MagLab in the big room, B101. See you then!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

SciGirlsII 2016 Day 8

Day 8 was another fun filled day! We studied two different fields of science today, Engineering and Meteorology. We started with The Environmental and Geotechnical Specialists (EGS) at the lab this morning. Audra Hayden, with EGS, and 2 FSU College of Engineering students, Kristine Obenour and Ashley Solek talked about engineering. They discussed different structures, the building and planning of them, and how EGS helps with engineering emergencies. After a short power point, our girls were given a paper towel roll challenge. In groups of 3-4, they had to build a sound tower that could stand and withhold weight. After an hour of building, each structure was tested for its durability. Using books as weights, our winning tower held 85 pounds of books before crumbling! We then discussed why some of the structures were more sound than others. After lunch, we visited the College of Engineering to see a concrete canoe and steel bridge which was built for the ACI-ASCE-FES ASCE Student Chapter for the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) competition. It was truly amazing to see these structures, and believe it or not, the concrete canoe really floats! We were then off to the National Weather Service on FSU's campus. National Weather Service uses satellites and weather balloons to gather data and use that to forecast the weather. This information is used to issue warnings and information for local stations to make their local forecasts. We visited the roof launch room and the roof top where the weather balloon is inflated with Helium. The weather balloon was a lot bigger than any of us expected! Melissa Griffin, from WeatherSTEM. talked with our group about the importance of the balloons and Katie Moore, forecaster and the Verification Focal Point, talked about the history and importance of the National Weather Service. Kelly Godsey, Senior Service Hydrologist, showed us around the weather data control room and took us up to the roof. Then, Jane Hollingsworth, meteorologist in charge, gave us some insight into her specific job and how she heavily relies on her team, and how she's climbed the ladder to where she is now. Melissa also took some time out to tell our girls the schooling and time she put in to become a meteorologist. Needless to say, these women really put in time and it shows how much they love their careers! Tomorrow, we dive into marine biology with a day at the Gulf Marine Specimen Lab!

SciGirls I 2016 - Day Eight

Breaking News......SciGirls I is in the building....repeat SciGirls I is in the building. SciGirls I reported to WFSU this morning to compile coverage of the first amazing seven days of the 2016 camp. This group of girls was shy by no means. One group was quickly whisked away to create a radio segment of a round table discussion. We hate to brag, but these future scientists were quite impressive. Not to be outdone, the second group of campers shuffled downstairs moments later to film a video presentation for the closing program on Friday night. Let's just say that the ability to "think on your feet" is an impressive skill set of the hosts and guests who volunteered to appear in front of the camera. The amount of patience and attentiveness of the behind-the-scenes operators should be commended also. Remarkable is the adjective that describes the magnitude of spunk of this lively group. Our visit concluded with a brief tour of the facility on the progression of radio and television. Thanks to the great group of ladies and gentlemen of WFSU who continue to share a moment of their time to help produce this phenomenal memory. Following such a great morning, it's only right that we make afternoon memories as well. With a brief visit to the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, the girls had a chance to see the Concrete Canoe, Concrete Cornhole, and Steel Bridge that were entered into the 2016 ASCE Southeastern Student Conference. Audra Hayden (EGS) was accompanied by Kristine Obenour and Ashley Solek(both senior Civil Engineering students) to discuss the role of women in engineering. After Kristine and Ashley described the rules for the Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge competitions, the girls had a chance to traverse the bridge and attempt to lift it. We then returned to the Maglab where the girls had an opportunity to create their own bridge structures complete with paper towel rolls, tape, and cardboard platforms. The competition was heated as the girls worked to create the structure that could hold the most weight. Amazingly, the winning structure named "Phillip" held 71 lbs. followed closely by "Pic of Bridge" with 70 lbs. We are so proud of the effort put forth in "Scarlet", "Star", "Totally Tubular", and "The Cage". It's hard to believe, but there are only two days left. Trekking over a mile, drinks you need to bring, but SciGirls will be refreshed in the afternoon springs!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

SciGirls II 2016 Day 7

Can you believe it's already day 7?!?! Today was a day full of media with both the Florida Center for Interactive Media and WFSU! We started the morning at FCIM. We were all so excited to find out that we were going to create and work with virtual reality! Once we got there, the girls were split into 3 rotating stations. At one station we used a program called MagicaVoxel to create 3D shapes. Those shapes will be viewed on the link below! At another station we downloaded Google Cardboard apps and took photos of ourselves, also while learning about 360 video and experiencing it! The last station was for decorating the cardboard VR glasses and the girls got the chance to draw with HTC Vive and actually step into their drawings. It was absolutely amazing! To see the VR/3D images the girls made and more, please visit After lunch, we visited WFSU, one of SciGirls sponsors! We first received a tour of the facility and girls got to see the types of phones and radios used in the "old days!" We're not sure the girls would know what to do without any buttons and touch screens to play with! :) After our tour, we split into two groups - a radio group and a television group. The radio group put on a radio broadcast with Kim Kelling about their SciGirls experience thus far. The broadcast will be played on WFSU, so keep a listen to hear our girls. The television girls learned all about newscasting, both in front and behind the camera. Girls were interviewed on screen about their favorite SciGirl experiences and about why SciGirls is the best camp ever! Duh! :) This newscast will be played at the reception on Friday night at the MagLab. SciGirls give a huge thank you to the staff at FCIM and the staff at WFSU for a great day! Tomorrow is bound to be another wonderful day with EGS/Atkins in the morning for engineering and a tour of the National Weather Service in the afternoon.

SciGirls I 2016 - Day Seven

Zucchini bread, blender salsa with chips,fiesta scrambled eggs, and water with a little fresh cucumber and mint!!!!! These were the delicacies prepared by Chef Paula Kendrick at the first ever SciGirls Brunch hosted at the Fresh from Florida Demonstration Kitchen. No, this experience was not only about sampling foods, but Dietitian Jamie Burch joined us to provide information on the science of ingredients in quick breads. Liquids add moisture, sugar and fats act as tenderizers, eggs(an emulsifier) not only add moisture but also bind ingredients together, leavening agents cause the bread to rise, and salt enhances the flavor of other ingredients. The differences between whole-wheat flour and refined flour was discussed, as well as the composition of an egg. We're sure that many people remain unaware of the differences in the protein content of flours, but hard wheat flour is higher in protein with about 13-14%. As Chef Paula was cooking up those goodies, she stressed the importance of food safety reminding the SciGirls that foods should be put in the fridge within 2 hours. Foods become more susceptible to the growth of pathogens at a much higher rate when left on the counter. When refrigerated, the opportunity for foodborne illness decreases, this is why it's recommended that refrigerators maintain temperatures between 32 and 40 degrees and freezer temperatures are zero and below. What an incredible four-star experience we had thanks to Kristi Hatakka and Sean Doran! We then ventured back to the MagLab where we were joined by Desiree Fraser of Diverse Computing. Desiree is currently assigned to work on the eAgent 2.0 which offers assistance to the law enforcement community with direct access to the National Crime Information Center. After giving the girls a bit of information on herself, the basics of computer coding, and stressing the importance of having an initiative to learn, Desiree joined the SciGirls in the computer lab with a brief computer coding session with Code-Monster. Then we were off to our final activity of the day, where we were met by Cody, Stephanie, Drew, and Whitney with an interactive opportunity into the world of virtual reality. The girls worked with web based 3D modeling with the AFrame program, creating objects in their own 3D world through the HTC Vive VR module, and 360Degree video. An amazing treat for the girls were the Google Cardboard Goggles that were provided for decorating and personal use. Thanks Andrew! Another great day is all we can say. And five, four, three, two, one...SciGirls I 2016 Special, coming soon!

Monday, July 25, 2016

SciGirls II 2016 Day 6

What a fabulous Monday!! Today we started early at the Marianna Caverns Tour. Our tour guide, Noreen, gave us all the scoop on the beautiful formations within the cave. Our girls learned all about the different elements that are naturally created in the caves and how they form. We were able to distinguish limestone to calcite, from manganese to iron, based on the beautiful black, orange, grey, and white colors all around us. Some of the formations were really beautiful, our favorites being cave "draperies," cave "bacon," and cave "diamonds!" We had a discussion about how the floor of the cave was also textured by rainwater due to carbonic acid. It's amazing to know that it takes 100 years for just one cubic inch of formation to form! We were even lucky enough to see two Eastern Pipistrelle Bats! After our cave tour, we went to Blue Springs to cool off. The water is so crystal clear and very pretty there. After eating lunch, we took out some kayaks and pedalboats. Though our arms and legs may be a bit sore, we had a wonderful time! We then stayed a bit at Blue Springs just to swim around and play! No trip to Marianna with SciGirls is complete without a visit to our favorite frozen yogurt shop, Milk and Honey! They were so welcoming to us and even gave us a discount on our froyo! We chilled, ate froyo, and watched Lion King until it was time to head home. It truly was a great day! Tomorrow we look forward to media day! We will visit the Florida Center for Interactive Media in the morning and then WFSU in the afternoon! It's bound to be another wonderful, sci-rific day!

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