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Girl Scouts engage in day of science, technology fun at Stephens College

April 10, 2017


Abigail Brown, 13, thought she had created the perfect contraption to protect a raw egg from the perils of dropping from various heights. 

The second-year Girl Scout Cadette from Cole Camp, Mo., had done her research about inertia, motion, velocity, acceleration and gravity. She arrived on April 8, 2017, at the “Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead” fun-with-science event on the Stephens College campus with a quirky device that she was confident would cushion the blow of an egg landing on the concrete.

Brown was right.

Stephens student works with Girl ScoutsHer raw egg, which looked like a daddy longlegs wrapped in straws, tape and poly fiber, survived “The Great Egg Drop,” which was one of more than 30 demonstrations, workshops and competitions that took place during the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland 2017 signature event.

“This is why I love science,” said Brown, who wants to be a surgeon when she grows up. “I love the experiments.”

More than 700 girl scouts, ages kindergarten through high school, descended on the Stephens campus for the event, which was designed to increase girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. 

Faculty from the School of Health Sciences, along with Stephens students, were on hand to facilitate a wide variety of activities. Students from Tri-Beta, the Biology Honor Society; The Acute Math Club and Stephens Organized for Service (SOS) also worked with the scouts. In addition, the event offered freshmen a chance to fulfill a service-learning component of their required first-year experience course at Stephens by overseeing several 30-minute classes with the scouts.

Sessions were held in the Pillsbury Science Center and Dudley Hall. There were also a number of exhibitors at Stamper Commons including, among others, 3M, ABC 17 Stormtrack, Army ROTC, the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the University of Missouri Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Dr. Susan Muller, dean of the Stephens College School of Health Sciences, said the event was set up like a conference where scouts were free to select sessions they wanted to attend. However, some workshops were geared toward younger participants while others were designed for older scouts.

Among the sessions were: 

  • * “Make it Rain”: An exploration of rain and precipitation in which participants created a mini-cloud and generated precipitation.
  • * “Seeing the World That You Do Not Notice”: A chance to use microscopes to examine the physical characteristics of some local species that are rarely noticed because of their secretive behavior.
  • * Gingerbread Cookie Genetics – A Study of Inheritance”: A hands-on activity that used M&Ms to investigate the possible gingerbread children that could be made from different combinations of the genes inherited from gingerbread parents.

One of the more popular sessions was “Tiny Dancers,” a fun experiment involving magnets created by Danielle Craven ’18 and Kate Yanos ’17, both students in the School of Health Sciences.

Each scout was given a pre-cut copper wire and asked to bend it into the shape of a tiny dancer and attach it to a coin-sized magnet. Next, the magnets were placed on a magnetic stirrer, a device that looks like a hot plate, which used a rotating magnetic field to make the tiny dancers move across the dance floor.

“It was pretty tough to come up with an idea that could present the concepts we wanted to show on a level the Girl Scouts could understand,” Yanos said.

Judging by the reaction of participants, however, their workshop was a success.

“This is fun!” shouted one Girl Scout.

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