Below are descriptions of the activities that took place during the 2013 Middle School Girls Math & Science Day.
The Tales Bones Tell: Forensic Anthropology Activity
This session will teach the students the type of information that an individual's skeleton records, including if they were male or female, how old they were when they died, and any disease or trauma they may have experienced. Students will then have an opportunity to put their new knowledge to work by analyzing their own skeleton and matching it to a missing person's report.
Foraging behavior in the fruit fly
The students will be measuring foraging behavior in two lines that have been evolved in the presence of predators for nearly 100 generations to see if we observe the expected reduction in rover-like phenotypes. Foraging behavior is measured in the larval stage. Final stage larvae are placed onto a plate with a thin layer of food (yeast) for 5 minutes. The length of the path they create in the yeast is traced and measured. Rovers produce long relatively straight paths and sitters produce short tortuous paths. The number of rovers vs. sitters can be counted in this way as well as comparing mean length of individual paths for each population.
Bacterial Transformers: Spore Formation
We will be exploring cellular differentiation at our station. Bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis and Myxococcis xanthus respond to starvation by initiating gene expression that cause cells to differentiate into resistant spores. In Myxococcus xanthus, spores form within special structures called fruiting bodies.
Mystery fish of science
Students will engage in lively hands-on activity to attempt to explain the behavior of the mystery fish of science using the principles of scientific investigation.
Roses are red, violets are blue - when bees are on flowers, what do they do?
We all know that flowers are beautiful and come in many different shapes, colors and smells - but why? We will learn how plants use flowers to attract pollinators, such as birds, bees, and butterflies, and why pollinators prefer different flower types.
Lub-Dub: What are your vitals?
Students and participants will learn about the heart and how resting and exercising measurements are taken. Additional information including norms for all ages, benefits of physical activity for the heart, and sources to find more information will be included.
Sharing is Caring: How Insects That Cooperate Rule the Planet
We will cover a range of insects, from bees and beetles to ants. The workshop will emphasize how highly cooperative insects that have formed societies have filled many ecological roles on the planet and are often the numerical dominant organisms in most ecosystems. In addition, the idea of insects as ecosystems engineers will be touched on (e.g. how insects dramatically change the structure of the environment to their own benefit, similar to humans). There will also be a hands-on activities with some arthropods, including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, ironclad beetles, darkling beetles and, Rosie, the very friendly tarantula.
Getting To Know Our Nervous System
The activity will start with an interactive discussion about the nervous system (NS). We will describe the different divisions of the NS and focus on the structure and function of the brain (description of the different lobes and the function of each). We will also have hands-on activities. First the participants will be able to color a mini brain (made with plaster) while identifying the different lobes and their specific functions. The second activity is; "the nervous system at work", What flavor is the Jelly Bean? In this activity the participants will explore how individual sensory systems work together to give you a complete sensory experience.
One-on-one Animal Examination
Students will try to solve a real-life veterinary mystery and will learn how to examine x-rays from animals that have visited the MSU veterinary clinic.
Pi, Probability, and Poppin' Balloons
The number of pi is one of the most important and mysterious numbers in the world of mathematics, but did you know that there are lots of ways to estimate the value of pi? Learn how you can use every day items such as pencils and ballons to guess the value of pi, and learn how you can blow up a balloon WITHOUT using your mouth!
Wildlife Forensics (note: this activity takes up two time slots and therefore counts as two activities)
Hypothetical DNA forensic case using M&M and skittle candy dyes. We will have four stations; 1) Sampling, girls will pick a genotype profile, 2) Extraction, girls will pick candy dies to match their DNA profile, 3) PCR, girls will add additional candies to make additional copies of DNA and 4) Gel electrophoresis, girls will load their dye profiles into a agarose gel.