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Friday, August 29, 2014

Welcoming The New School Year

Hi GO-GIRLS! I hope your summer has been going well! After all the fun we had at the academies, I wanted to fill you all in on what us mentors are doing now that the school year is beginning for a lot of us. Many of us juggle school, work, and extra curricular activities throughout the year, so we are looking forward to a busy year not only with that but also with upcoming GO-GIRL related events.

This week, Wayne State University welcomed the Fall 2014 semester. Over the weekend, students began to move into the dorms and buy their textbooks at the bookstore. The incoming freshman experienced orientation on Monday, exploring campus and meeting friends. The following Tuesday was the New Student Convocation, an official welcoming of the new students, and FestiFall, a fun picnic with food, games, and music. FestiFall is also an opportunity to explore student organizations and clubs.

While a lot of us mentors begin our school year, I hope all of you enjoy the last couple of days of summer and look forward to being one step closer to college! Throughout the school year, I want you all to think about all the exciting things we did over the academies and how you can apply that to the things you learn in school. Keep in touch and follow GO-GIRL on all of our social media sites to stay updated with us!

Mentor Pia

Wayne State welcomes incoming Warriors at FestiFall

New Student Convocation and Festifall fun in the middle of campus

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It’s Genetic! Wednesday: GMO Yes or No?

One of the last activities the Go Girls participated in this academy was the GMO debate. GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms – organisms whose genetic material has been engineered to achieve some desired product. The girls learned a little about GMOs and worked in pairs to make and present posters arguing either for or against GMOs.

Go Girl Lisa said, “Nature is doing the same things. Scientists are just doing it faster.”

On the other hand, Go Girl Erica argues, “You are what you eat. If you don’t know what you eat, you don’t know what you’ll become.”

After each presentation they were asked questions by the “FDA board” composed of mentors. Once all the presentations were finished, the girls then became the FDA board and brainstormed solutions. They suggested better labeling of GMO products, better regulations and more testing, and some even suggested that GMOs should be banned until companies are completely sure they are harmless. Overall, the girls did a wonderful job at coming together, brainstorming ideas, and making arguments.

- Mentor Maisha

It's Genetic! Day 3

Today in Biology Lab, the girls looked at how appetite is controlled by genes and the environment in C. elegans--little tiny worms! Did you know that these worms LOVE the smell of buttered popcorn?! That smell is actually a chemical called diacetyl. At first, the girls put worms at one side of their petri dishes and watched the worms wiggle their way towards the smell that was located at the other end of the dishes. They, then, were given two different samples of these worms in two other petri dishes: one wild (natural) sample and one mutated sample. The girls had to use their knowledge from the first sample and decide which sample was the wild sample and which was the mutated sample. Look at what the girls were looking at through their microscopes! 

- Mentor Sanjana

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It's Genetic! Tuesday's Wrap Up

After dinner, the girls relaxed and finished up their lab questions. Unfortunately, outdoor crafts were cancelled due to the rainy weather - but that didn't stop our BRIGHT Go Girls from having fun!

Today's day was filled with learning - from talking to Genetic Counselors and role-playing a real life situation to doing an experiment involving worms (ask your girl about how much fun it was!). To balance it out, the night was filled with relaxing and fun activities that brought out the girls' more creative sides.The girls designed some more shirts with puffy paints and we were amazed by all of the inner artists! Some energy was then released in a Zumba class again as girls danced to the rhythm.

When the girls came back, they were ushered to the activity room in Towers where they had first checked in. But this time, the girls filled the room and the mentors presented the Go Girls awards! Each and every girl was celebrated for the reasons why they were all so special to us. Traits awarded ranged from being funny or talented to having great leadership skills. Ask your girl what she got celebrated for!

Better yet, the awards were all intricate handmade DNA strands made by the mentors. And of course to the girls, even better yet was the fact that the night ended with a pizza party and some music!

P.S. This post is being written as I listen to all the girls sing along to Stay With Me by Sam Smith. How precious!

- Mentor Mahpara

It's Genetic: Genes and your Health (Exploring Genetic Counseling)

It's Genetic: Genes and your Health (Exploring Genetic Counseling)

Today the girls headed over to the medical school to learn about genetic counseling and the heredity traits of common genetic illnesses. The course started with a lecture from Angela Trepanier, the program director for Wayne State's Genetic Counseling program. After this the girls learned about Genetic Counseling as a career through a series of "speed dates" with 8 Genetic Counselors. These volunteers varied from research specialists, practicing genetic counselors and even current genetic counseling students! The girls asked some great questions about the field, including what it means to be a genetic counselor and advice for pursuing a career in genetics. After the speed dating sessions, the girls put their own skills to the test in a mock genetic counseling session. The girls were divided into groups of three and assigned one of three roles: Genetic Counselor, Patient and Support Person. Check out Rachel and Ki-Jana as genetic counselors below!

-Mentor Gillian



The girls hanging out with "Chromi the Chromosome"

Alicia Salkowski, MS showing the girls a pedigree. She is also the creator and patent holder for Chromi the Chromosome

It's Genetic! DNA & Cancer Lab Activity

Today, we did an experiment regarding DNA & Cancer! First we extracted DNA from strawberries, and used the anti-cancer drug cis platin with gel agarose electrophoresis (we felt like real scientists!). It was an amazing learning experience and we learned about DNA, its function, and how DNA is replicated. With the help of Gayani, a PhD candidate in Biochemistry and her lab team, we were able to learn how to do our experiments. The DNA extraction lab consisted of a strawberry, an extraction solution composed of shampoo, H2O (water), and NaCl (salt), and isopropanol. First, we had to smoosh the strawberries, pour in the extraction solution and once we filtered it, we added the isopropanol and saw the DNA float to the top of the tube. We collected the DNA and it was so interesting to see how the DNA looked and that a tiny strawberry had so much! We then prepared gels for electrophoresis to see how the gels would show the difference between DNA and DNA with the cis-platin drug. It was a fun lab and to be able to learn so much about the DNA that makes our bodies and cells function every day was the best part of it all!

- Mentors Fariha & Sabrina

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's Genetic! Monday Wrap-up

Today was a FULL day of labs for the girls - we extracted DNA from a strawberry (DO try this at home - it's super easy and really cool!), ran gels to see how cisplatin (an anticancer drug) works, and tried to figure out our very own genetics in hair follicles!

After all of those labs, we had "speed mentoring", where all of the girls got to meet different mentors and talk to them about their majors, extracurricular activities, and how to stand out in college applications. I had a great time talking with the girls about my experiences abroad and how to succeed in high school.

We had a great dinner and then a group of mentors and girls went to Zumba while another group of girls went to play volleyball - I went with the Zumba group, and it was so much fun! Here are a few photos I took in between dance moves:

If you want to see more photos from the academy (and a video from the Zumba class!), check out GO-GIRL on Instagram: wsugogirl.

I'm super excited to see how tomorrow goes: we're doing more work with the genes we found in our hair, and we're also going to the med school to learn about genetic counseling as a career.

-Mentor Jen

"It's Genetic!" Day 2: Biology Activities

Good evening everyone! Today, the GO-GIRLS began their mini courses exploring genetics and epigenetic information. With the help of Dr. Lori A. Pile, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at WSU, and her research assistant Ms. Ashlesha Chaubal, the girls learned about genes and how to replicate them using PCR (polymerase chain reaction). The girls covered various topics that deal with gene expression and DNA fingerprinting. After learning about the topic, the girls were able to extract their own DNA from their own hair strand. They had a lot of fun and loved to use new tools such as the centrifuge and pipette! After, they were able to build a model of chromatin to further understand DNA expression using colorful play dough as histones, tubing as DNA, and pipe cleaners and gumdrops as histone tails and chemical tags. Later in the day, the girls will be able to see their own DNA on agarose gel and find out if they are homozygous or heterozygous. To end the mini course activities, Dr. Lori Pile presented various career options in scientific research. The labs were very interactive and the girls were very eager to learn. Today was a very fun and productive day and the girls are eager to continue to explore genes through more mini courses tomorrow!

-Mentors Pia and Michelle

"It's Genetic!" Day 1

Good morning everyone! Yesterday was our first day of "It's Genetic!" We are all so excited to jump into the new academy and for the girls to learn a little bit about DNA and genetics. Girls and company arrived, and check-in/registration went smoothly. The girls were able to get a kick start on Arts & Crafts during check-in. Mentors paired up with their girls shortly after to get settled in the dorms. We had our first meal in the new cafeteria and headed over to the Education Building shortly after to complete a survey and a DNA pre-lab activity. Girls learned about different properties of DNA and how it functions using a puzzle piece demonstration packet. Dr. Sally then gave everyone a quick preview of what's to come this academy, and we ended the night watching "Frozen" and Twilight Yoga. We are pumped for the activity-filled day ahead!

Talk to you soon! :)

Mentor Jess