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Spring Quarter Launch and Workshops

This past week marked the beginning of our Spring quarter launch. Students were tasked with building a tower out of only spaghetti, marshmallows, string, and a piece of tape. What at first proved to be a daunting task ended up as a huge success. Students collaborated to design a prototype, build, and test their tower-- all in 18 minutes! Whoever could build the tallest, free-standing tower won a bag of delicious (and highly coveted) Takis. We were so happy to see the students working so cooperatively and thoughtfully, just like any professional engineer would. If last week is any indicator, this quarter is sure to be filled with thinking, learning, and friendship.


Additionally, Curieus hosted our Future Chemists and Future Neuroscientists workshops at the Redwood City and East Palo Alto Public Libraries. In our Future Chemists workshop, students learned about the science behind slime, lava lamps, and chromatography.

Students listened intently as one of our volunteers, Mia, explained how to decode the secret message using chromatography.

The slime station was beloved by all-- students got to mix and stir an array of ingredients from Curieus' secret slime recipe. More importantly, they learned that their concoctions were polymers, or a substance that exhibits both properties of a liquid and a solid.

Students at the slime station

Next up was the lava lamp station. Students combined food coloring, oil, Alka-Seltzer, and water to make their very own lava lamps. Our volunteers explained how density and polarity of a liquid can determine the attraction (or lack of) between two liquids.

At the chromatography station, students were presented with a case of a stolen bike. Using chromatography, students had to decode the note and determine which pen was used to write it. Whoever owned the pen was deemed the thief! Students learned about similar methods that scientists use to test dirty water, study crime scenes, and check food for dangerous chemicals.


At our Future Neuroscientists workshop, our volunteer and budding neuroscientist, Maya, led a series of activities where students learned about the billions of tiny messengers in our brain, otherwise known as neurons. Maya explained the key roles our neurons play in our five senses and led a demonstration where students got to smell and taste an assortment of mystery scents and foods and guess what they were. The students' neurons did not fail them, and they were spot on for almost every one!

Students and volunteers with their pipe cleaner neurons

Students modeled a neuron out of pipe cleaners and connected them at the end to form a long chain, much like the neurons in our brains do.

After the students modeled their neurons, they moved on to the egg drop activity, where our volunteer, Rachel presented the students with an egg that represented the brain, and challenged them to build a helmet to protect it during the drop.

Students designing the helmet for their "brain"

Although not all students' eggs made it, they showed excellent thinking and reasoning as they built a safe helmet for their eggs in true engineer fashion. After the drop, students were able to observe the region their egg cracked in and compare it to the regions of the brain. Based on the area, they could see how the fall would have affected the person, as well as make adjustments to their designs if they were to do the experiment again.