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Full Steam Ahead to Summer!

Full Steam Ahead to Summer!

Date of the Event: July 09, 2020 | Alecia Gabriel, Dr. Seth Shaffer and Mariela Puentes
mother helping her son with homework Show Notes:

In this webinar we welcomed  Alecia Gabriel from Motor City S.T.E.A.M., a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing STEAM (Science. Technology. Engineering. Art, Mathematics)-related educational programs and opportunities for minority and underprivileged students. Alecia Gabriel shared ways that families can have fun with science and math this summer by using everyday objects and materials. This webinar also feature the Question Corner with child psychologist, Dr. Seth Shaffer, and education expert, Mariela Puentes

The Family Room 7-9-20

Megan: [00:00:00] Welcome to today’s Family Room. We missed you all last week and we hope you have time to be with your family, be with your friends, be with a good book reading and enjoying any nice weather that we had, because we are officially full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead to summer. Today we are thrilled to be experimenting with math and science at home with Motor City S.T.E.A.M. and Dr. Alecia Gabriel, who is the cofounder and...

The Family Room 7-9-20

Megan: [00:00:00] Welcome to today’s Family Room. We missed you all last week and we hope you have time to be with your family, be with your friends, be with a good book reading and enjoying any nice weather that we had, because we are officially full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead to summer. Today we are thrilled to be experimenting with math and science at home with Motor City S.T.E.A.M. and Dr. Alecia Gabriel, who is the cofounder and curriculum developer at Motor City S.T.E.A.M. and Lab Drawer.

So today as always, this is brought to you by MAEC and Turning the Page in collaboration, to come into your homes and share time to answer questions, and also highlight featured guests like Dr. Alecia. Today we’ll be adressing a top of the mind question, seeing some home experiments that you can do with things inside your own cabinets and diving into some questions about what is going on in the world right now.

And continuing some of the conversations we’ve been having in previous Family Rooms and as always we’ll wrap up and hopefully you’ll fill out our survey so we can continue to provide the best Family Rooms for you in the future. If you have any questions for Alecia or Seth or Mariela, please don’t hesitate to put them in the question answer box or use the chat box.

And if you’re on Facebook live, if you just enter your questions there, I will make sure that we get to them as well. I’m going to pass it over to Mariela to talk more about CAFE.

Mariela: [00:01:55] Thank you Megan and welcome everyone. We are happy to be continuing this collaborative effort between MAEC and Turning the Page, to provide a space for families to connect and share strategies with one another.

So a little bit about MAEC. We are an educational nonprofit in Bethesda, Maryland founded in 1991, dedicated to increasing access to a high quality education for culturally, linguistically and economically diverse learners. Our vision is a day when all students have equitable opportunities to learn and achieve at high levels.

And MAEC’s mission is to promote excellence and equity in education to achieve social justice. So a bit about CAFE. CAFE, the Collaborative Action for Family Engagement center, is a project of MAEC. We apply an equity lens to family engagement, by building relationships among schools, parents, and community organizations.

[inaudibel] We improve the development and academic achievement of Maryland to Pennsylvania. And we are funded through a federal Department of Education grant for statewide family engagement centers. So now I’ll pass it back to Megan who will talk about Turning the Page.

Megan: [00:03:12] Yes. Thank you so much Mariela. So Turning the Page connects our public schools, families, and community with high quality resources. And especially now more than ever, a lot of virtual resources, so that our students have the best access to a high quality education, and the ability to have the most opportunity and success in their futures.

Now, one of the things that’s going to be top of mind today, that Mariela is gonna address and Alecia will be going into as well later on, but what equity considerations should be considered in regards to S.T.E.A.M.?

Mariela: [00:03:54] So first of all, we want to make sure that all students feel that they can do S.T.E.A.M. So this is particularly important for children of color and [inaudible], they need to see people who look like them thriving in the field. It’s also about access to quality S.T.E.A.M. opportunities and content. And so really the idea of the representation matters, access to curriculum, to materials that are culturally relevant and responsive to student’s lived experiences. Especially now, right with our current pandemic within a pandemic of like racism, children shouldn’t only be exposed to historical perspectives and struggles of people of color. They also need to see themselves represented in their full humanity as people who experienced joy, who represent greatness. And learning also needs to help children think deeply and push back on the dominant norms or narratives regarding people of color, especially in S.T.E.A.M..

And then when we get to the gender piece, right, there’s research, I always think about this piece called Didn’t We Solve This Problem Years Ago? This research is from 2009, but it’s really about the varying socialization practices for boys and girls that lead to the development of different thinking strategies. So sometimes teachers in their classrooms without realizing it are promoting different ways of socializing how boys and girls think. Right. And this is definitely only our research that focuses on like, one specific sort of space.

But really that boys often get more opportunities for scaffolding, for better questions, for constructive feedback. And this is often this happens more so with boys right than it does with girls. And so that leads to more opportunities for boys to engage in higher level thinking and to grow as learners. And sometimes without even intending to do so, right. That’s how some, sometimes girls or women get left behind. And like not being able to be pushed to think as critically.

Megan: [00:06:01] Great. Thank you so much Mariela. And I know we had a little bit of cutting in and out because what is a webinar with just some slight technology issues, but we’re going to be excited to share, so Mariela touched on a couple of different points, that is why Motor City S.T.E.A.M. was founded in the first place.

And Motor City. S.T.E.A.M. is co founded by Dr. Alecia and two other women who came together to fill the void in effectively engaging minority and underrepresented students in science and art education. And Dr. Alecia has  a fantastic  background in bio organic chemistry, scientific research, project management, automative, and aerospace. And she’s been named as a notable woman in manufacturing. Which is phenomenal, as Mariela just pointed out how we do see women underrepresented in these fields. Additionally, she hosts a, cohosts a podcast called Ladies Love Crypto, which I know I’m going to be checking out. But it breaks down cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. And it also is just created to inform more ethnic, racial and disadvantaged groups.

So I’m going to pass it over to her so that we can begin talking more about that. And also what experiments we can do at home.

Alecia: [00:07:27] All right. Thank you, Megan. And thank you everyone for being here today, I’m so excited to talk to you all and share a little bit about Motor City S.T.E.A.M. as well as another piece of Motor City S.T.E.A.M., which is the Lab Drawers, so I’ll talk a little bit about that, a little bit later, but hello to everyone. And I’m Dr. Alecia Gabriel, again, I’m one of the cofounders of Motor City S.T.E.A.M. And, my other co-founders Chinonye Akunne and Deirdre Roberson, we actually all came together about five years ago now.

And, just because of the things that actually were part of the concepts and the top of mind question, we were going to community organizations. We were going to schools and doing science experiments and things of that sort. And what we saw is that there was a huge void in what children were actually learning, at the same ages that we were learning certain things.

So for example, if you are in high school, you should have at least been introduced very briefly to the periodic table. And of course, maybe you haven’t seen or know all the chemical symbols for all of the elements, but you’ve at least seen it. And, it’s something that you’re kind of familiar with in a science class.

And those are the things that we said, hey, this has got to stop. We need to at least make sure that students in the Detroit area, that’s you know, that they have the access to STEM education that we had at their age. And also too, another piece of this, wasn’t just what we saw in the school, but also even in our workplaces.

So at the time when we started this, we all were working in corporate America. I was an internal consultant. I was traveling quite a bit globally and working with many different engineers and more often than not, I would be the only woman in the room. And of course, usually the only black woman and, or person of color in the room. And for, that’s not just me, that’s also for the cofounders as well.

And so we said, this has got to stop this narrative of only being the only one there has got to stop. And it really comes down to exposure. It really comes down to making sure that we are engaging with young people, long enough to really sustain their perspectives on what a scientist could look like. And encourage them to really study science. And tell them that they can be scientists too, right. They can be mathematicians and engineers as well. So all of that is really important for us, in terms of why we came together and why we decided to form Motor City S.T.E.A.M..

I also want to talk a little bit more about the arts piece because a lot of people are very familiar with STEM, but maybe not so much as familiar with S.T.E.A.M. So S.T.E.A.M. is basically STEM, right, science, technology, engineering, and math, but with the arts. And for us that’s very important because, I don’t know about you guys, but I have hobbies and things that I like to do outside of my regular work day. And, I come from a musical family. So music was always a really big part of my life. So I’m a vocalist, I come from, my mother’s a classical opera vocalist. My father is a classically trombonist. My siblings are musicians and I also was in dance, I was in ballet, I did tap, I did jazz, I did lyrical dance. And then I was also even in acting classes.

And so that’s why we’re actually concentrating on S.T.E.A.M. Because without those things in my life, without that artistic side, I’m a thousand percent sure that I would not have been able to come up with these really innovative reactions that I was able to come up with while I was in the laboratory. Or even, let’s just take Motor City S.T.E.A.M. as an example, right. That takes a lot of creativity. You have to be very openminded to decide, Hey, I want to be a scientist entrepreneur. Right. And really take that and become something bigger than what science just is by itself. So we really need the arts. And we’re convinced that we really need the arts with the sciences.

And we’re also, it’s not just limited to the performing arts, right? I mentioned that, but also even the visual arts, right. Photography, film, or even if someone’s interested in poetry, the literary arts, right. All of that is really important. And I think that without those outlets, as a scientist, it really kind of inhibits you from coming up with great, innovative ideas and really coming up with answers to solve these wonderful, crazy problems that we have out here in the world.

So that’s a little bit about Motor City S.T.E.A.M.. I do want to start off with telling you guys, so we have some experiments that we’re going to show today. And the first one that I’m going to show you, you may have seen it before, it’s actually comes from a Dr. Seuss book, it’s called Oobleck, right? So it’s actually a very, very funny name, but it’s kind of like slime, but I’ll give you some scientific background around it as well.

What you’ll need to perform the experiment. You’ll probably need a measuring cup for, not just, cornstarch, which is here. So you’ll need some cornstarch, but you also needed for some water for some tap water as well. Some food coloring, I have blue food coloring. Some measuring cups, some other measuring cups, just in case, these work as well. Okay. And then you’ll also need a bowl, a spoon. Okay. And that’s pretty much it.

So, what is all this about? So you basically take your water, you pour it into the bowl. You then take about one and a half to two cups of cornstarch and pour that into the bowl as well. One of the things that you can do very easily, you can either decide there are a couple of ways to make this more fun. You can actually color the water while you’re stirring, or you can add the food coloring, like I am right now at the end of the experiment. So you can add a little extra food coloring if you’d like. Right, just like that. And what you end up getting is this very, very interesting liquid yet solid.

Okay. So I’m going to show you exactly what it looks like in the bowl. Okay, so you see the food coloring there. So essentially, oobleck is what we call it’s a non -Newtonian fluid. Right. So what does that mean? So some of us know you’ve heard of Isaac, Sir. Isaac Newton. You’ve heard of, you may have heard of him before in the past. But basically a non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid that doesn’t behave like other fluids do. Right. So we know fluids to just flow right. Very easily, but a non-Newtonian fluid, however, actually only flows, if there’s no pressure or no force, especially strong force being applied to it.

So in this example, I’m going to take some of this oobleck out with my spoon. Now, mind you guys, this can be very messy for the young people. But just so you can see, so I’m picking it up here, but as you can see, it’s kind of like a slimy texture, right. But it’s because the spoon is holding it. It’s there’s actually forced being held or applied to the fluid itself. And as you can see, it kind of comes apart, but begins to drip because it doesn’t behave like a normal fluid. Okay.

So this is one of the ways in which you might want to teach your children about different states of matter as well. So you might want to talk about the differences between a solid, versus a liquid, right. And the differences in those, and actually non-Newtonian fluids, don’t behave very, very well with those definitions. Right. So this is just one example of a science experiment with things that you can do, things that you can use at your house, and very relatively inexpensive items to do that at your home. Okay. So that’s oobleck.

All right. So the next experiment that we’re going to do is always very fun because it’s summertime and I don’t know about you all, but I always need a cool, a nice, cool treat. Right. So it’s always nice to have a very cool treat if you’re sitting outside and a lot of us like to do, ice cream or like to eat ice cream or go out for ice cream. Okay. So that’s actually what we’re going to make at home.

So there are a few things that you’ll need for this particular experiment. What you’ll need, you’ll need some milk of some kind. So I have an almond milk or almond beverage, from Trader Joe’s, just as an example, but, you actually,if you want to and you drink regular milk, you can absolutely use regular milk. In fact, it may, it will probably, behave better for you very, very quickly  because, and I’ll explain a little bit more about why it will, but just so you know, if you don’t drink milk or you drink non dairy products, other seed milks work just as well. Okay. You’ll also need, some sea salt or some rock salt, some kind of salt, even iodized salt will work perfectly fine. Like Mortons iodized salt that works perfectly fine. You’ll need some vanilla extract. Or if you don’t like vanilla extract, you can actually use all of the flavorings that you’d like. So for example, let’s say, you want to use your creative mind and use maybe an orange extract or a lemon extract. That’s totally fine, and up to you. You also need some kind of sweetener. So, like I said before, I used an almond milk for the milk, but you can also use something like Stevia, right? So here’s just a little Stevia packet. Stevia works, but also of course, regular sugar will work for you.

You’ll need a spoon as well, of course, for eating. And then you’ll also need two bags, right. So I’m going to explain the differences between the bags. So the first bag actually will have your milk, and your sugar and your flavoring, right? So like your lemon flavoring and whatnot. So you put that into the smaller bag. I will say, though, you can actually use a snack size bag.

So I’ve done this experiment with a snack size bag as well. That works, that works just fine for this experiment. But what I have here is a pint size bag, so that’s perfect. Right. And then if you, the other size bag, I should say, you will need a gallon size bag and you will need to fill the gallon size bag about halfway with ice. Okay. About halfway with ice. And so it should look like this. Right? And so just to show you all a little bit as to how this works, how everything works, I’m going to open this bag, with the ice in it. You’re going to take your salt. I’m going to go ahead and open that up and pour some of the salt into the bag.

So let’s talk about the science about this, of this. So basically, as you know, for those, since we all kind of live in a cooler climates in the winter time, as you know, we use salt to help melt the ice and the snow that we come in contact with. Okay. So obviously this is gonna help melt the ice, and it seems like that would be counterintuitive for ice cream. But when we take our mixture of milk and sugar and vanilla flavoring and put it into the bag, make sure this bag of course is very tightly sealed. I’m going to bury that in there. And then we’re going to close the gallon sized bag.

We’re just going to start shaking. Just like this. So you want to do this about 10 minutes. So it’s going to take a long time, so we won’t show it all on camera. But of course, when it’s all said and done, you will actually have edible ice cream in the pint size bag. Okay. So in this bag, everything will actually freeze and you’ll have the ice cream ready to eat, ready to go within 10, 15 minutes. So, of course this is probably a cooler, healthier option than what we have in the stores, of course. But this is a wonderful way to also teach some scientific concepts.

So how does this also work? Why is it important for us to add the salt to the ice and then have the ice melt? So as the ice melts and comes in contact with the bag, the pint size bag, there’s an actually energy transfer. So the energy from the ice, right, since it’s melting is actually transferring to the pint size bag, which then makes the pint size bag freeze. Right. So all of the milk and all of those things then begin to freeze. Another thing that’s happening is that particularly when you work with the half and half or the the other cows milk or cream, if you decide to use that, that’s also going to work a little bit better because the fats in that milk come together much more quickly because they’re trying to come together. They want to see something like themselves, and that’s why they kind of amalgamate together, in the bag much more quickly.

So that is another great way to incorporate some science at home and kind of talk a little bit about not just the energy transfer, but then you can talk again about solids, right, so. solids and liquids, right? So we converted or changed a liquid to a solid by transferring energy, right. That’s all, these are all things that you can talk to your kids about and share in terms of scientific concepts. All right. And then of course you ended up with a great fun, delicious treat at the end. So can’t complain about that.

All right. So there’s another experiment, that I will also show you all. So this experiment, is what we called the lava lamp experiment, right? So lava lamps, most of us on this call probably are very familiar with them. But for young people, they may not have ever seen a lava lamp before. So in this particular experiment, we’ll talk a little bit about density. We’ll talk about, of course, the state of matter, being a liquid. Andthen we’ll go from there.

So you’ll need a glass of some kind. I just have a Mason jar, but really any glass will work. So even if you have a large water glass, maybe even something like this, that works perfectly fine. If you want to do a very large lava lamp, I’ve seen people use a glass vase for that as well. So that also works. Then you’ll also need some vegetable oil. Okay. You will need some water and you’ll need some food coloring. Okay. And of course this can be any food coloring, right. It doesn’t matter what color I’m just going to use red today for this particular experiment. And then you need some alka seltzer. Okay.

So I will also say that for this particular experiment, another thing that has worked for people who do this experiment, you can also use baking soda and lemon juice, right. And kind of press those together. So of course the baking soda and the lemon juice will kind of fizzle up a little bit. But that’s kind of what you want, but in case you don’t have any alka seltzer lying around, lemon juice and baking soda actually worked perfectly fine.

So let’s, so I’ll show you guys how to do this one. It’s pretty easy. You need, some vegetable oil or you’ll start out with some vegetable oil first and you’ll pour it into into your glass. And it can be anywhere from about halfway full to three quarters full I’m actually just going to use the rest of this. All right. And then you’re going to take your water so you can, there are a couple of ways that you can do this. You can actually decide to add the food coloring later, but I actually prefer to add some of the food coloring now. So just make the food coloring as, the color or as deep of the color that you would like.

Of course, this is always fun for young people. Alright, put that to the side. And what do you want to do, you can kind of stir it a little bit and then you want to pour the water into the oil. Okay, so you already start seeing some things.

And of course, young people get very excited, but I like to kind of stop here because what we wanted to, what we want to talk about, obviously we have two liquids here, right, we’ve got oil and water, and of course you can always mention do oil and water mix? Obviously, no, they don’t mix too well. Right. So you can talk a little bit about how like loves like, right? So water likes water, oil likes oil. You can talk about those things. And then another thing that I like to talk about at this time is density, right? So, we need to understand what density is. So I was kind of ask, like, have you heard the word density? And of course we know that density is actually basically how much the mass or the weight of something versus how much space it takes up. Right. So if we compare that concept, for oil and water. Right. We know that water has a higher density because it’s below the oil, right? So you always want to use that kind of as a prompt question for young people.

So then the next thing, or the last thing that you want to do is take your alka seltzer tablets. And you really, for this kind of size of container, you want to, pretty much just use one of these. So if you decide that you want to continue doing the experiment over and over again, I would just suggest using one, dumping everything out and then continuing with another, maybe another color or something like that.

you want to take your alka seltzer and break it up into smaller pieces and I’ll show you exactly the sizes that I’m doing here. So the pieces are about this size. Okay. They’re about that size. And you don’t want them too small and you don’t want them too large. Okay. So they kind of have to be right in the middle. So that, that one here. So like for example, this one is a little, it’s a little too small. Okay. So we’re going to take this and then we’re going to start dumping them into the water and you should begin to see bubbles forming immediately, which you can. Right. And then it’s pretty cool here. Right? So you see how, the alka seltzer basically begins reacting immediately. Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about the science of this. Okay. So alka seltzer, as we all know, if you’ve ever had a cold or a tummy ache, we know it dissolves in water, and we know that when it dissolves in water, it fizzes, right. So we get this  gas releases as we say, right? So basically what’s happening is, alka seltzer consists of a sodium bicarbonate, which is baking soda and citric acid, which we find in various citrus fruits, such as lemon, oranges, limes, things like that.

So that’s why I made the suggestion that if you don’t have alka seltzer at home, you can still do this experiment without having alka seltzer, right? You can use lemon or some other type of citrus fruit and baking soda. So once the alka seltzer comes into contact, with the water, and of course, because its density is very high, right, it’s very dense. So it sinks immediately to the bottom of the glass. It begins to have the reaction with water, right. And that reaction with water capitalizes carbon dioxide, gas to rise. And that’s how you see the various bubbles appearing in the oil, right? Giving us that lava lamp type of effect.

Okay, so you can do this, I mean, this is always very, very cool to see. Right. I’ll give you guys a closeup and it’s very easy, very easy experiment that you can do with young people. And I’m always fascinated by this. I always think this is pretty cool. [chuckles] Okay. So we’ll finish that up. Yeah, so you can do literally the entire capsule here. I think we have a little extra, right. And you can even talk about concepts. Like, you know, you see how some bubbles are flowing much more quickly than others, right. Why is that happening? Where you can talk about kind of the speed of the reaction? You can also continue to talk about the states of matter, like I mentioned earlier.

So all of those things are really important. One of the core things that I think between all three experiments is really important and it’s a kind of a basic concept is making sure that young people understand the states of matter and solids, liquids and gases. Those are basic concepts that you can teach really to any age, any age of child and they’re just basic scientific concepts and they’re learning and still having fun. Okay. So I hope that helped with the experiments. If we can go to see the, the material list. These are all materials that we can actually share or that we can, that you should actually, or may actually have at home. Right. So these are all things that you might have at home. They don’t cost too much money, and if you don’t have them, like I said, for example, with the alka seltzer, there are other things that you can do to make sure that you can still do the experiment, right? So this takes up, this could take up your afternoon and I know that your, your children will have a great time, doing all of that.

Okay. And let me know if you have any other questions or anything about the experiments, but I hope that those concepts will at least guide you in helping your young people engage in science and in the future.

Megan: [00:31:33] Yeah, Dr. Alecia, we actually had a comment coming in, like thanks for the reminder to discuss the scientific concepts as you’re doing it, because these are all so fantastic and super fun. And mesmerizing with the lava lamp, but it is how you broke down those states of matter. And what’s actually happening, you just do so much learning by watching all of these ingredients mixed together. And so thank you so much for sharing all of those tips for parents.

Alecia: [00:32:00] Absolutely. And, and just to kind of let you know, there are other, many other ways to incorporate S.T.E.A.M. at home. I mean, obviously we’re doing then using things that are in your kitchen, so of course cooking is kind of one of those things. But even when you’re going on a nature walk, right, you can talk about. You know, why is the sky blue and what are the purposes and what is the purpose of trees, right. And how they contribute to us having clean air. Right.

What about the various types of birds that we have? All of that’s really important. Even communication, right? So when we talk about communication, a lot of times we talk about or think about just talking to one another, but we can even talk about how sound and, how sound is different if we try to speak very quietly in a space, right, versus very loudly in a space.

You can even get into anatomy and physiology. When we talk about using more air. And using our diaphragm to breathe, right. Even with money, right, so talking about how to put together a budget for them. Right. So if they have an allowance or if they have a job, what are some, you know, how are they going to budget their money for the next month? Right. What are the things that they can do? All of that is S.T.E.A.M.

Partnerships with organization. So for example, if they’re doing sports or they’re doing karate, you can talk a little bit about how the body moves, right? Why is that important for us to learn about and know about? So all of that is really important. And even when we talk about partnerships, even organizations getting involved with organizations, that have STEM activities as well, that’s really important for just getting them exposed to different things. And again, that goes back to why we started Motor City S.T.E.A.M. in the first place.

And then I’m sure that a lot of you have video game or students or children who play video games. Of course, that is all science, right? So that’s all gaming and engineering and coding. All of that is really important. So you can talk to them about what are some of the ways in which they can actually maybe create their own games. Of course there’s also, there’s Minecraft, there’s roadblocks, there’s fortnight, all of those things. I keep hearing the same kinds of games from young  people. And for us, that’s really important at least for Motor City, S.T.E.A.M. is really important so that we stay engaged with them.

But you can also kind of start these questions and have these prompts, to ask them is this something you might be interested in? Are you interested in coding? Do you really like playing this game? And would you like to learn more about how this game was even created? Right. So all of that is very important.

And then also, I just kind of want to close out a little bit. Again, we are Motor City S.T.E.A.M. and Motor City S.T.E.A.M. Foundation. We’re actually a nonprofit. So, the work that we do for Motor City S.T.E.A.M. is committed to the city and really the country and making sure that minority, underrepresented groups and children just get access to STEM and S.T.E.A.M. education. That’s very critical for us. It’s so important for us. And again, like I said, at the beginning, we want to see many different people. We want to see, black and brown people getting into the fields, going into the fields that we decided that we wanted to go into because we had the exposure. We had people who were telling us, even here in Detroit that, Hey, you can do this, right. So that’s actually why we do the work that we do.

And then we also had the Lab Drawer. So the Lab Drawer is actually our subscription box. It’s a monthly subscription box of STEM and S.T.E.A.M. Experiments. It’s geared toward middle school students. And, essentially with the Lab Drawer you actually get all of the activities to do a STEM experiment or a science experiment, as well as an art activity.

So, we actually were fortunately, the winners of a pitch competition last night,  here in the city of Detroit through tech town. And so we’ve been given some, some additional capital to take our technology to the next level. We actually use AR, or augmented reality, for young people to get more engaged and actually watch the video, or an instructional video on the background of the experiment, how to do the experiment, all those kinds of things.

So all of that is included in the Lab Drawer. And so right now we’ve been very much a part of summer and virtual S.T.E.A.M. camps. So we partnered with universities and other community organizations to make sure that the Lab Drawer and that these boxes of STEM and S.T.E.A.M. experiments really get to the homes of young people. Right now, we’re staying all over the country. So it’s not just in Michigan, but all over the country. And so you actually also have the opportunity to please check out our websites, it’s And, if you would like our subscription service, our subscription service will start again in September with a new experiment, we have new tech that we’re building and new activities that we’re building out as well, for us to just continue this work, for us to continue to get young people engaged, particularly in that middle school age range to get them engaged and interested in science at an earlier age.

So at this time, I think that’s it for me. I would love any questions, or any comments, anything like that, so that we can kind of take your feedback and maybe even apply it to our companies Motor City S.T.E.A.M. foundation and the Lab Drawer.

Megan: [00:37:49] Yeah. I mean, I actually think you answered a lot of the questions that came up, which is amazing. You gave a really thorough example of just how to do those at-home experiments and even touching on how you can see S.T.E.A.M. in everyday life. And you said it like it’s so critical and it really is all around size, but I’d love to know, just in this last minute that we have you here. What would you like, what is one way you would encourage young people of color or young women to get engaged with S.T.E.A.M.? I know it is, you know, it’s been a bigger push, but there still a lot of hesitancy. What’s like one suggestion you would give parents to kind of get them there, get their hands into it?

Alecia: [00:38:30] So I, honestly there’s so, there is a lot of programming out there. In fact, we’re doing a camp with another organization called Michigan Women Forward in a couple of weeks where we’re actually teaching young girls about science and entrepreneurship. So there are programs out there. And so I would encourage parents to get into those kinds of programs. So there is Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, other coding organizations, even So, they have, you know, their day of coding every year, but there are also lots of experiments and coding things that they can do on the website.

Right. So they’re different, I would just say, even if they seem uninterested, I would encourage you to kind of push a little bit. I know that for a lot of young women it’s for the math, for example, the math part it’s Oh, I don’t want to do that. Right. But I think if you start kind of leaning in toward some of their interests, so maybe if they’re interested in, you know, a lot of girls, I’ve seen interested in making, you know, bath bombs and things like that. ?There are tons of actual kits that you can purchase that will actually make them measure out. And you’re actually using all the mathematical concepts that you learned in school to make these materials. So I would encourage that.

I would, again, encourage any activities that you see in the community. Make sure that they, just try it out. And if they still don’t seem interested, you know, science isn’t for everyone. But I definitely think there there’s plenty out there for them to just try, right. Just take them to a day. There’s tons of science days there, tons of virtual STEM, and S.T.E.A.M. camps right now. All of that is just really important.

Megan: [00:40:24] Yeah, thank you so much. And I agree, even though we’re at home, it’s during the summer where it’s important to be hands on and finding those activities, especially as they’re virtual. And even these experiments that you just did, we can close our computers today and go into our kitchen and find a lot of them.

So thank you so much for being here and sharing those with us. Jen has been chatting in the chat box some links and the website and how you can access the Lab Drawer that you mentioned, but thank you so much again for your time and you’ll be around as we transition into the question corner. But we appreciate it and wow like what experiments we can do. I think I might try the ice cream one after this call.

Alecia: [00:41:05] Absolutely. Thank you.

Megan: [00:41:07] So we are going to dive into our other half of our programming. We’re back with Dr. Seth Shaffer and Mariela in the question corner and continuing some of the conversations we’ve been having. One question came up after our last webinar and the question was, as a 30 year old professional, do I speak in terms of diversity? Or do I speak in terms of racism as a symptom of white supremacy?

And I know that this is a little bit of a transition, but still important in terms of what’s going on nationally and what we’ve been touching on in our Family Rooms. So I’m gonna pass it over to Mariela and Seth to kind of dive into that. How do we speak about that as you know professionals of age of 30 or really any age?

Mariela: [00:41:59] So thank you for that, Megan. I think it’s really important to know that this is a conversation we should all be thinking about, right. And then when you think about diversity education, it typically focuses on appreciating the differences between social groups. So it’s more similar to multicultural education, but oftentimes the focus on diversity misses the emphasis on systems of oppression or power dynamics or privilege or on who has access to resources and why? Right. And understanding the historic goal, sort of like oppression that goes along with it. So I would actually say to talk and teach in historical and current realities of oppression, but also while highlighting the resilience of communities of color.

So if you think about now with the pandemic, we know based on current data, right, and there’s been lots of data that’s been published by the New York Times recently on the impact of the pandemic on black and brown communities. And how they’re I think it was something like, Latino communities were impacted 10 times the number of like white communities, with COVID. And that’s oftentimes because they live in households with like more people in them. They’re considered, they work in professions that are more of like essential workers. So they have to like take more risks in their lives. Right. But I would, but I think if you’re an educator, and you’re thinking about what next year looks like and what teaching and learning might look like, even if it’s virtual. Right. And even if you’re thinking about how to sort of approach that, I think you have to do it in a way that is culturally responsive. So I would more so focused on that. Right. And focus on honoring students and families lived experiences with the pandemic, and inviting students experiences into the learning environment.

And having families share their stories about what the past few months have been like for them. Take time to get to know their fears or concerns or worries. And then if you’re thinking about only focusing on diversity, right, or focusing on like, racism as a form of white supremacy, I think sometimes that’s a very complicated topic to think about and to just like get into off the bat, so I would focus on leveraging students like funds of knowledge and making connections to students like prior experiences or skills. Because we know that the deepest learning for students is one that focuses on like their existing knowledges and their existing schemas and how that maps on to like new knowledge or current learning.

So I would say that the takeaway right, is that it’s more important to create space for children and families to have conversations about the current climate and to ask questions and have space to process.

Dr. Seth Shaffer: [00:44:54] I have kind of a follow up question, Mariela, just to add, could you give an example of what you just described? So maybe like either from a caregiver’s perspective when talking with their child or their children or who they’re taking care of at home, or from a teacher’s perspective, like in the classroom? Just so that we have a sense of what a conversation like that could look like, maybe something brief, or I don’t know, that might be helpful.

Mariela: [00:45:17] Sure. So I think when you’r e planning, if you’re in the classroom, right, and you’re planning out a lesson, I think typically if you start a lesson with like building background knowledge. This is a time where you can build on students’ experiences or like their realities with this pandemic, and get them to apply it or to map it onto whatever they’re learning now. And then I think if you think about families and you’re an educator, creating a space for families to be able to share their worries or concerns or needs. And so it focuses on like appreciating everything that they’re going through and their resilience and, you know, maybe how they’re coming together as a community. And also validates that they may have very different experiences than you. Yeah, that’s what I would say.

Megan: [00:46:07] So kind of in this regard, we had a question come in, that I think you kinda touched on like creating the space to have these conversations. The question was how do I help my own children get through this when they say that they don’t trust the police and don’t want to die? So, how would you say, like parents or educators could create the space for addressing something that is really pertinent to what is going on right now and is definitely conversations that will need to be happening and will come up over the next couple of months?

Mariela: [00:46:45] Yeah. So I think, when I hear that statement right, look there, like I have questions, right? So like, I want to know the age of the child. And like maybe a little bit more about the context right, in which the child is saying that, but I think what stands out the most is the idea that this child is like hurting or feeling unsafe on some level so I would go with that first and respond to that need. And assure them that they are safe, they’re secure. That like there are many ways that as a family or as a school system, we’re doing many things to keep them safe. And then depending on whether they’re older, right, then you get into talking about systems of oppression and like current manifestations of racism and police violence and those sorts of things. I think if the child is older, like they can have those conversations more readily and understand the bigger picture as opposed as somebody who’s younger.

Dr. Seth Shaffer: [00:47:40] Yeah. I mean, that makes total sense. My perspective I want to acknowledge is coming from that of, you know, white privilege. So, I had that lens and I want to acknowledge that and not to mention that I’m a male too, but I will add to what you said Mariela is that the younger the child is, the more that you would want to try to go for kind of helping them self-sooth, like you said Mariela. And helping them like address how they’re feeling in the moment and what that might be related to, whether it’s something that happened to them, something that they saw on TV or heard on the radio, et cetera, a friend told them.

So the younger, they are go for the feeling and help them to be connecting whatever they’re feeling, with whatever’s happening to acknowledge it. Be very nurturing, be very emotionally supportive and available to them. Then, as you said Mariela, I totally agree as the child gets older, of course you don’t want to lose sight of emotion, but you can, it can be more of a dialogue. And it can be more of like, even I’m thinking elementary school age, like more teaching of taking a certain situation that your child and, or you have been in and dissecting a little bit. Checking in with your child about what they think about what happened to them, how it makes them feel, what they did, what you did and what they can do and what you are doing to keep them safe as best you can.

Middle and high school it can be more of a dialogue because then identities are being formed from a developmental perspective in the child. And so you want to also encourage them and validate their own beliefs and thoughts. But then also, you know, not challenge it in a way that like you’re putting it down or disagreeing, but help them just expand their curiosity when it comes to these things.

But also mention things that could keep them safe and things. And kind of, cause and effects types of types of things, what to do in certain situations and just letting them know the doors always open. Right? When talking to your child, door’s always open, always talk to me about these things. Most important thing is that you stay safe. I have a lot of life experience. I want to share that with you and I will keep doing whatever I can to keep you safe type of thing.

Megan: [00:49:44] So one thing that I’ve heard recently from a parent that deals with best safety, but more in our health concerns with wearing masks in public and different regulations that are coming out from the state, but also signs that are going up and seeing people, some following and some not following the signs, a parent wanted to know that if her child is struggling with understanding why some people follow the rules and some people aren’t following the rules. And asking like, well, then I don’t need to follow the rules, how can you help children understand kind of what’s going on around them when they’re younger? And there is a lot of unknown or different, kind of different receptions for what’s happening across states and nationally?

Dr. Seth Shaffer: [00:50:32] Great question, Mariela  do you mind if I give this a shot first?

Mariela: [00:50:36] Go for it.


Dr. Seth Shaffer: [00:50:37] I had, and I’m having direct, not only my experience in this professionally as a child psychologist, but also as a parent, as a father. My son is six and a half, I’ve mentioned him, he’s like a celebrity. Now I’ve mentioned him in a couple of these, you know, webinars, Julian. What do I do with that? I like to my wife and I have took, and this is what works for us. This is my family’s comfort level. So it depends on what your family or what the adults in the family are comfortable with when it comes to conveying information about in this case health-related things related to COVID.

I just want to, I mean, it seems obvious, but I’m a mental health practitioner so, you know, I think looking to getting, by making an informed parenting decision, you want to look to health guidelines from the CDC, from local public health officials, et cetera. But once you gather that information and we have some of those resources on the slide, that’s going to come up, I believe later so you can access that then.

Once the adults have decided, here’s how we want to approach talking with our child or children about health related things specifically related to COVID is this an ongoing conversation. Just like conversations should be ongoing about social justice issues, racism issues in this country it’s not a one time thing, right? So I’m just trying to provide a little bit of context that you want to be having this on an ongoing basis with your child, because then if or when kids go back to school and it’s safe and all that stuff, and your kid might come home with like, Hey, so-and-so’s not doing this.

It’s not going to be like, they won’t be surprised when you say something, if you choose to say this again, it’s up to you obviously of like, well, this is a health thing. We’ve got to focus on you keeping yourself safe and remind your child that this is what I’ve heard from the CDC and public health officials that by wearing the mask, you’re protecting other people. Right. So that, that you can link what your child is saying to actually you’re helping your friend by wearing the mask.

And if your friend or your friends aren’t wearing masks, you need to worry about yourself. But also, you know, be thinking about it as staying healthy, staying safe and being compassionate toward them and towards others. And our family stance is wear a mask when you go outside to school, sorry, that’s it, you know, or whatever you want to kind of, however you want to come at it. So that’s Mariela, did you want to add anything to that?

Mariela: [00:52:51] Yeah, I would say that with younger children, right they often resonate with topics about like fairness and like, so, and so’s doing some things, so like, therefore I get to do it too. So with them, right, it’s more so helping them see beyond that a little bit and like helping them see a bit of a bigger picture, context, maybe how germs spread. There are lots of visualizations, like nowadays about how, like, if you’re wearing a mask and like you cough like how many particles actually get through your mask? Or like if you’re not wearing a mask, like how they sort of like travel in space. Right.

So there’s a lot of things like that, that can help sort of guide this conversation. And like Seth said, it’s an ongoing conversation. Really, I would try to get to the root of the concern or issue. Is it that they don’t have enough information about how germs spread? Is it that they just don’t think it’s fair? Is it that they don’t understand what your values are as a family? Or like what the rules at school are for keeping safety and like why they exist? And maybe it’s that children or whoever you’re having this conversation with responds more to processing the learning for themselves. You just ask them these big questions that like get something to get them to think about the issue, like very deeply and come to their own conclusion. And hopefully it’s the conclusion of like, staying safer. Right. And like, thinking about concrete means to do so.

Dr. Seth Shaffer: [00:54:14] I love that you brought up the why. Like trying to understand what’s the function of this behavior. Why is my child saying this to me? Mariela I think that’s an excellent point. The other thing, one thing that stood out to me, you mentioned that kids, younger children tend to, like, that’s not fair, you know, the fairness thing.

The other, the other thing that can come up with young children is like standing out. So sometimes what unfairness means when a child uses unfair, it could means that they’re really having a feeling of that they’re upset. But . the other thing about, you know, children is like, I don’t want to stand out if I wear a mask and my friends aren’t, I’ll look weird or it makes me uncomfortable emotionally.

And so one spin on this, which my household has done, my son’s school has done to an extent. And I know some others too, who have done this with young children again, you can also help use the mask as a way of learning, a way of self expression by decorating it. They can make a mask, right? This is my mask. So that might flip that, like, I might be embarrassed, you know, I don’t want to stand out to like, look at my cool mask and they might start a trend or a fad or whatever, and then you can kind of go about it that way to spin it. So I just wanted to add that piece too.

Megan: [00:55:24] That is a fantastic idea that I actually hadn’t heard of yet before and Seth I’m going to definitely recommend it to my parent friends. I think that’s a good way to get them excited. And again, for it to be cool and we’re all doing it.

And we did get a live question coming in and I know, the last one that we’re going to kind of touch on today and we’ll also touch on it somewhat next week as well, but we do have a parent that’s wondering what strategy can parents use kind of in the same realm, to reduce or eliminate eliminate they’re covering fear in the midst of coronavirus spiraling? And the danger of returning to school next month, which poses a threat to health? So like what’s, you know, maybe one strategy today and we’ll continue to talk about it next week. But that parents can do to reduce their fear and anxiety about what’s to come?

Dr. Seth Shaffer: [00:56:18] Breathe. Pre COVID, during COVID, post COVID, whatever. The future is uncertain. I’m of the mindset that it’s really important to take care of yourself, and that allows you to be able to take care of others, whether you’re a parent, whether you’re a teacher, whatever you are. Daily meditation, daily exercise. Getting outside, get that vitamin D, good sleep. And then you’re modeling that so you’re helping yourself with your own stress and anxiety, but also as your child or children see that, you’re modeling it for them as well. So you’re creating a family values around the importance of self care.

But, yeah to, you know, Megan, what you said next week, we’re going to go into this and a little bit more depth cause school is like a month away and it’s like, Oh my God. You know, so a lot of parents, we’re all in the same, a lot of us in the same boat. And I want to give a special shout out too to educators because I know that you guys are working extremely hard right now. There’s a lot of anxiety in teachers. I can only imagine what teachers are feeling and experiencing. And I just want to say we appreciate, I appreciate it. And we’re all in this together. And it’s an important question that I think we’ll flush out a little more even next week as well. Mariela, did you want to?

Mariela: [00:57:34] Yeah, I think I agree with, like focusing in on this question a little bit more next week. I would also add just like quickly for this week, that if, as a family, you have a practice of like naming and recognizing your own emotions or fears or worries to do that, and to model that for your children. It’s a model how, you know, when you’re feeling anxious, right? Like, do you feel like you get this like nervous energy and then you like, you know, model how you look either breathe or you do a yoga class or you like go on a walk, like Seth suggested, and so helping kids develop ways of naming the emotions, but also ways of like coping with those emotions. And then trying things that might work for them.

Dr. Seth Shaffer: [00:58:19] Also use, just before we wrap up. Based on what you just said, Mariela, in my field, so as a cognitive behavioral therapist, which I’m not going to go into that, but it’s basically a theoretic modality or an approach to helping kids in therapy and working with them. It’s skills-based. I almost variably teach them a one to 10 scale. This can be used for you as an individual, us on this call, you know, others can use it. One to 10, which many of us are probably have heard or used in some shape or form. A lot of doctors will use it for pain, right? One to 10.

You can use it for feelings. So for children and even as an adult, you can have multiple feelings. I suggest a rating for each feeling. So if I’m feeling like, worried about my kid going back to school and what’s going to go into that. And some uncertainties that’s happening right now worried is the feeling on a one to 10 scale with 10 being the strongest or most intense you could ever feel worried about something. One just being a tiny bit, you know, I’m like a six so medium level, right? One to three is in the manageable range in quotes, four to six is kind of medium level. Seven to 10 would be high level.

And so you can use that number with yourself and it’s good language to use with your child so that you guys can check in and then know, okay with the goal being to catch your worry as soon as possible. Now we can do something about it. Cause outside the manageable range if your like a four or higher, you want to try and be proactive to do something, to kind of feel better.

Megan: [00:59:42] Yeah, that is a great suggestion. And I think, you know, like Mariela said both for parents and for kids and for acknowledging it altogether, because there’s a ton of things outside of our control. But what is in our control is when we’re there together, having that space and being open with one another. And also doing those self care practices and we hope logging in for an hour with us on Thursday is one of them. Getting to see some  experiments with dr. Alecia, was fun and it can be built into your next week or the next month, over summer.

We have had such a great time and obviously always continuing the conversation with Mariela and Seth is fantastic. Please check out these resources that will be going out with our slides after you come to this event. And then we would love for you to continue to connect with us. And like we mentioned, we’re going to dive into some more of this uncertainty with school openings, next week. And how to handle it yourself, how to handle it with you, our kids. And then we will also be having Dr. Chris Williams from the African American History and Culture Museum with us on Thursday, July 16th at 3:00 PM eastern 2:00 PM central.

Do not forget to fill out our survey because we love having you. And we love to hear what else do you want to see, and how you’ve enjoyed our events or what you want us to continue to build in. But thank you again for spending time with us this afternoon, and we hope you are full steam. ahead to summer.

Thank you. Bye. Thanks. Bye.


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