CAGIS Virtual Past Events 2022-2023 – Canadian Association for Girls In Science (CAGIS)

CAGIS Virtual
Past Events (2022-2023)

Saturday September 24 – Build a Sound Recording Device – FREE KIT!

Have you ever recorded your voice on a phone or in a studio?  Do you know how it works?  In this session, we will receive FREE sound recorder kits in the mail and HACK them to learn the science, engineering, and mathematics of electronics!  By the end, we will be able to turn our devices into personalized greeting cards or toys with our voices!

Preparation: It was our 30th birthday and we sent all participants a gift! All participants received a free sound recording kit in the mail.

Expert: Dr. Ana Rodrigues started programming when she was only ten years old.  She now has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and many years of experience in industry and STEM education.

This project is supported by the Natural Engineering and Research Council of Canada.

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday October 1 – The Three Sisters, Water, & Indigenous Knowledge

Indigenous Peoples have been monitoring, collecting data, and stewarding the land and the environment across the ages. This has led to a rich knowledge base, known as Traditional Ecological Knowledge, which is a part of Indigenous Knowledge, a recognized science.  Traditional Ecological Knowledge includes a vast body of information about the interconnected elements of the environment, information that has been transmitted through oral storytelling. 

In this session, we planted the Three Sisters (corn, squash, and beans), tested tap water at home, and learned how these elements interconnect.  We also took part in a Virtual Reality experience where participants travelled in a virtual canoe and learn about traditional Haudenosaunee, or Six Nations, cultures. 

Preparation: corn, bean, and squash seeds, soil, a pot, paints and paintbrush, paper (if the pot is not paintable), and optionally, pH test strips (these are widely available at hardware stores and pet stores).

Expert: Makaśa Looking Horse, a McMaster University student and environmental activist from the Lakota and Mohawk Wolf Clans. Makaśa is renowned for her activism for water protection and security and is the host of the Ohneganos: Let’s Talk Water YouTube series. This session was facilitated by our partners, Grandmother’s Voice.

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday October 8 – Build a Sound Recording Device – BONUS SESSION WITH FREE KIT!

Have you ever recorded your voice on a phone or in a studio?  Do you know how it works?  In this session, we will receive FREE sound recorder kits in the mail and HACK them to learn the science, engineering, and mathematics of electronics!  By the end, we will be able to turn our devices into personalized greeting cards or toys with our voices!

Preparation: It was our 30th birthday and we sent all participants a gift! All participants received a free sound recording kit in the mail.

This project is supported by the Natural Engineering and Research Council of Canada.

To become a member, join here.

Saturday October 15 – Modelling Nuclear Physics with M&M’s

Have you ever wondered how scientists determine the age of a fossil or ancient relic?  The secret is at the heart of an atom!  Certain types of atoms give off particles and energy over time, a process called radioactive decay.  This can happen very quickly, over seconds, or over millions of years.  By observing radioactive decay, physicists can measure time on tiny or enormous scales.  At this event, we learned more about the process and modeled it in an eye-opening and very delicious way – with chocolate.

Preparation: One 200g pack of plain M&M’s (not the peanut or any other variety). Count 100 M&M’s and put them in a small plastic or paper sandwich bag; one regular food plate (to spread the M&Ms); one pencil, eraser and a piece of paper to take notes.
NOTE: If you need to replace the M&M’s you can also use two packages of Skittles (around 120g).

Expert: Dr. Gwen Grinyer is an experimental nuclear physicist and an Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Regina.

To become a member, join here.

Saturday October 22 – Visualizing Bird Songs

Can you see bird songs?  No?  Guess again!  In this session, we createe our own bird whistles based on the biology of birds and saw the sound waves created by the whistles on our computers! We even simulated how stress changes the bird songs! Are you ready to sing along?

Preparation: 1 piece of paper (colour paper, if possible), 2 jumbo smoothie plastic straws, 2 pieces of Blue-tak (reusable adhesive), 1 plastic folder (transparent, any colour), 4 polybands (mini-elastics). Tools: Scissors, Ruler, Black Sharpie.

Expert: Pavlina Faltynek has a M.Sc. in behavioural and cognitive neuroscience from Western University.
To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday October 29 – Jiggling Gels: Halloween Concoctions

Ewww… what’s that slippery stuff?!  Halloween is a time to explore the chemistry of hygroscopic substances that are slimy, slippery, and sticky.  Food gels contain protein strands that twist together in a special way. We whipped up our own gelatinous concoctions with chemistry to celebrate.  Think ectoplasm, slime, and green ooze!

Preparation: 1 package of Jell-O (vegan alternative: 1 package of agar); 2 cups of hot water (1 minute in the microwave); flour (gluten-free alternative: corn starch); red and green food dye; 6 small (1 oz) cups (or a silicone ice cube mould).  Measuring tools: 1 tablespoon (tbsp), 1 teaspoon (tsp).

The participants that wore their Halloween costumes had a chance to win a prize!

Expert: Brianna Rector is a Ph.D. Candidate at Western University studying carbon steel corrosion dynamic model development.

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday November 5 – Mathmón : the fun statistics of card games

Do you want to become an unbeatable game-player?  In this session, we created our own card deck and used statistics to calculate our chances of winning or losing on our own Pokemón-inspired card game! These techniques can be applied to other games as well, to use math to create an advantage! Are you ready to play?

Preparation: Download and print the Mathmón deck template from this link (in colour, if possible). Get rounded scissors to cut the cards (a plastic ruler may work too);  an electronic calculator (you can also use one on a phone or on your computer); a blank piece of paper; pencil; eraser; crayons or markers in different colours. 

Expert: Sarah Sun has a Bachelor of Mathematics and develops mathematical models for the banking industry.  She was Deputy Leader for Math Team Canada at the International Mathematics Olympiad and is one of the creators of the After Math podcast.

To become a member, join here.

Saturday November 12 – Plant Doctors

Have you ever had a stuffy nose, sore throat, or cough?  Those are signs that you’re feeling sick, but how can you tell when a plant is sick? Together, we became plant doctors – or plant pathologists – and diagnosed sick plants. We assessed plant samples with leaves from our garden, a house plant, or from a nature walk. We made a plant press to help our diagnostics. Let’s give our plants a health checkup!

Preparation: Old fruit, vegetables, or plants that do not look healthy. Leaves from your garden, a house plant, or a nature walk. 2 pieces of heavy cardboard cut into an 8” X 8” square. Newspaper or cut or folded into an 8” X 8” square. 4 sturdy rubber bands. Weights (such as a heavy book). OPTIONAL: Magnifying glass or microscope.

Expert: Sara Stricker, B. Sc., B. Ed., M. Sc., Ph.D is a plant scientist and Communications and Outreach Coordinator at the Guelph Turfgrass Institute.  She studies plant pathology – diseases that harm plants – and how to defend against them. 

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday November 19 – Floating 3D Images

Do you believe in ghosts? What about ghosts created with math? In this visually stunning session, we made a pyramid to project 3D images from a smartphone or tablet using the principle of “Pepper’s Ghost”: an illusion technique used in the theatre, cinema, amusement parks, museums, television and concerts. We created different projections that, combined, created a 3D image floating in the air. Are you ready to be illuminated?

Preparation: Print this shape template, clear hard plastic (e.g. a cover from a package box or a plastic folder), clear tape, scissors, ruler, sharpie, smartphone.

Expert: Maggie MacPhee has a degree in Mathematics and teaches Math and Physics. 

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday November 26 – Radioactive Food for Thought

Is your food radioactive? Yes, many things in our world, including some foods, are naturally radioactive! Does that mean they’re dangerous? Not always – it depends on the amount of radioactivity. Together, we used candy and the periodic table to model radioactive isotopes and to build a model nuclear reactor to understand how they work, and build on what we did at our Nuclear Physics with M&M’s session!

Material for the first session  (7-12): 11 Mini-marshmallows (or 2 normal marshmallows cut in 8 pieces each), 4 jujubes (or other soft candy -all of the same colour)92 plain M&Ms (or Skittles), 4 toothpicks, 1 sheet of paper, pencil.

Material for the second session (11-16):  1 transparent plastic cup, 4 Mini-marshmallows (or 1 normal marshmallow cut in 8 pieces), 1 can of 7-Up, 4 regular straws, 4 sticks of red licorice (Twizzlers Twists). Optional: 1 tsp of Baking powder, Nerds/Sprinkles candy to put inside the straws.

Experts: Barbara Francisco is an Adjunct Professor EES & Research Scientist at the Actinides Laboratory of the University of Ottawa. Erin Flannigan is a Ph.D. Candidate in Applied Nuclear Physics at the University of Ottawa.

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday December 3 – Teen Ambassadors STEM Trivia!

We finished our 2022 events with a fun-filled session led by the CAGIS Teen Ambassadors in a virtual space on Gather for games, an online scavenger hunt, and a quiz contest. We tested our STEM knowledge at this interactive event!  
Preparation: Bring your knowledge and enthusiasm!
To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday January 14 – Mirrors in Space

Have you seen the incredible images of our universe taken by the James Webb Telescope?  Together, we created our own models of the James Webb Telescope to understand how the telescope works, why it uses mirrors, and more!  Get ready to gaze into the stars!

Preparation before the session: 1. Download and print the NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Model. Use heavier stock paper, if possible. We will have some time to cut the model during the session.  If preferred, participants can pre-cut the pieces before with the help of an adult. 2. Get an empty 2L soda bottle and tools to cut it in half. We recommend parents either cut the bottle beforehand or closely supervise the child while they cut it.

Preparation for the session:  Get the paper model and bottle, one large metal spoon, round scissors, glue stick or double-sided tape. Optional: an air pump, a cork and masking tape to close and launch the “rocket”.

Expert: Dr. Heidi White is an Astrophysicist at the University of Toronto studying galaxy evolution and cosmic star formation.

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday January 21 – Flying by Instruments

Let’s fly! Have you seen an airplane cockpit and wondered about all the information on the panel? Aircraft pilots rely on these instruments, especially if the weather is bad. Together, we flew a flight simulator and used instruments to pilot a plane in bad weather! We will also build paper versions of the planes and experiment to understand why some are really faster than others. Buckle your belt, and turn on your turbines, because we are taking off!

Preparation:  Print these two templates: DC-9 Airliner template and Drone template (in colour, if possible, or you can use crayons to paint them). Get round scissors and double-sided tape. Check if you can access the Geo-FS website and bookmark it.

Expert: Shazia Montgomery is an aspiring airline transport pilot who has recently completed her Private Pilot License and is now in the process of completing her Commercial License.

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday January 28 – Skin Care

Did you know that the skin is the largest organ of the human body?! It is especially important to protect your lips from the sun, cold, and other environmental hazards because it is the thinnest skin on your body. In this session, we created our own balm to keep our lips moist and protect them in the winter weather. Are you ready for some skin care chemistry?

Materials: 1-3 small jam jars (must be sanitized and dry, this is to store the lip balm); at least 1 tbsp of Beeswax (recommended to have it grated beforehand); at least 1 tbsp Coconut oil or shea butter; at least 1 1/2 tsp of another cooking/cosmetics oil (options: almond oil, avocado oil, olive oil, sunflower oil) (not canola oil);  two small metallic or glass bowls that fit into each other with handles (example: pyrex measuring cups); 500ml of water heated by kettle, stove or microwave; 1 metal spoon or wooden stir stick; an old piece of cloth, towel or newspaper to cover the table in case of any spills; gloves.

Optional: Coloured Lipstick or lipgloss (preferably not used and if use take front the side not applied) – red works very well (NOTE: food dye will not work as it is water based). Bring lip balms, skin moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners you have in your house. We will read their labels.

Expert: Lexie Griffith is a cosmetic chemist whose work involves formulating cosmetics and personal care products.

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday February 4 – Cool Data

Has your computer or electronic device ever overheated? Keeping devices cool is essential to prevent data loss! But it’s not just your device; when you take great pictures or write social media posts, the data are stored in Data Centres, which produce a lot of heat. Together, we explored how tech companies solve this complex problem. We built our own thermometers and explored ways to cool materials with the same processes Data Centres use to keep our data safe and available in the cloud. Heat it up, and keep it cool!

Preparation: 1 water bottle, 1 stick of modelling clay (or play-dough), 1 thin transparent straw,  2 medium plastic / ceramic containers, hot water (not boiling), cold water with ice, food colouring, sharpie.

Expert: Maria Bolovis is the Senior Vice President of Operations at eStruxture with over 15 years of experience in data center operations, engineering, strategic planning, customer installations, and process improvement. Maria holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal and is a member of the Order of Engineers of Quebec (OIQ).

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday February 11 – The Sweet Science of Fudge

Are you ready to indulge in the delicious world of fudge-making? There’s a lot of chemistry involved in the science of sugary treats. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we explored how the right amount of heat and mixing creates sugar micro-crystals needed for smooth, creamy fudge. It was a sweet experience!

Preparation: Click here for the complete instructions to create Chocolate Fudge!

Expert: Bonnie Douglas has over 15 years of experience working as a food engineer in cereal and ice cream factories. She also made the world’s tallest ice cream cone!

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday February 18 – Coding in Space

We are thrilled to announce CAGIS is participating again in the European Space Agency’s Astro Pi Challenge! In one hour, create a simple program to take readings from sensors on the International Space Station (ISS) and code an image to send to the astronauts! Participants will receive a certificate showing the location of the ISS when their program was used in space!

Preparation: For this event, you will only need your computer and we recommend using a mouse. You do not need to know how to code,  step-by-step simple instructions will be provided. See Full Instructions here.  See the Presentation here.

Expert: Chimira Andres works for the European Space Agency.  She completed a M.Sc. in Geophysics and Planetary Science at Western University and is also the President of SEDS Canada, a not-for-profit student space organization.

To become a memberjoin here

Saturday February 25 – Electric Lemons – FREE KIT!

From lemonade to sorbet, lemons have an amazing variety of uses.  But can a lemon become a battery?  You bet!  In this event, we have learned about the materials typically used to make modern batteries, explored energy alternatives that can bring a greener future, and built our own lemon-powered devices!

Materials:  2 large lemons, limes or potatoes. The first 80 CAGIS Virtual Members to register for any of the sessions received a free kit in the mail. Non-members purchased a kit from the Gorilla Store. Optional: assorted batteries from your home.

Presentation: Click on this link to download the CAGIS – Electric Lemon Presentation  with instructions on how to assemble the electric lemon clock. 

Expert: Dr. Ana Rodrigues has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and many years of experience in industry and STEM education. She developed hundreds of projects using electronics and robotics.

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday March 4 – Stem Cells in Action

Did you know that the human body is made up of around 200 different types of cells? One of those cell types, stem cells, are special, because they can turn into other cell types depending on the environment! At this event, our participants used gummy bears to explore these processes and created models of different cell types like skin cells, muscle cells, or brain cells, joining the stem cell revolution!

Materials:   3 gummy bears, 1 cup of warm water, 2 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp sugar, play-dough in at least 4 different colours, 1 bowl, 3 small jelly jars, marker. See these instructions to prepare the gummy bears 1-2 days before the session

Experts: Sophia Aslanidis and Olivia Cirone are students and Teacher Assistants at McMaster University, in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering and in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering. They work with the McMaster Women in Engineering Society, an organization that promotes, supports, and uplifts women and young girls in engineering. 

To become a memberjoin here


Saturday March 11 – Hormones for Life

When you want to send a message to someone, how do you do it? Do you send a text, an email, or pass them a note? Your body sends messages through chemicals, known as hormones. They affect almost every cell, organ, and function in our body! Our growth, appetite, sleep, and even our moods are affected by hormones. In this hands-on session, we used customized dominoes to explore the different types of hormones, their cascading effects, and their impacts on our daily lives. Let’s activate our receptors!

Materials:  Download and print the Hormones Dominoes template;  cardboard or cardstock; scissors; white glue or a glue stick.

Expert: Nektaria Riso is a graduate of both McGill University and Concordia University in physiology and child development. She has extensive knowledge in endocrinology, particularly in its role in early human development. She has also worked in science communication since 2017 and is passionate about supporting women in STEM!

To become a memberjoin here.

Saturday March 18 – Protect Your Mind

Welcome to our Head Injury Prevention session! Do you know what a concussion is? Have you or your friends ever had one? 3.4 million concussions occur each year in sports and recreation-related activities, but in Canada, 50% of people know little or none about concussions. In this session, we used play dough and eggs to model the head and brain and test our own “head” protection designs. We explored some fun and easy ways to keep your noggin safe while you’re out there having a blast on the field, the court, or even just playing around with friends. This was an exciting and informative activity, and we became true head injury prevention superstars! 

Materials:  – 3 eggs or 3 really ripe plums (or you can create a substitute egg using a plastic mould and modelling clay); – 3 large ziplock or other sealable, clear bags; – markers to draw on the egg; – 4-6 sheets of soft, flexible material (e.g. paper towel, Kleenex, toilet paper, scrap fabric, saran wrap); – firm and/or moldable material enough to cover one egg (e.g. part of an egg carton, play-dough, plastic Tupperware, packing peanuts…you can get pretty creative here); – tape and scissors. Optional: measuring tape.

Expert: Taylor Snowden-Richardson is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Victoria. She is currently studying the role of mild traumatic brain injuries as a risk factor for dementia, including early detection and prevention.

To become a memberjoin here.