Archive for February, 2010

Wanna Play?

Come learn about Girlstart’s Ping Pong Tournament!!!!

If you are interested in forming a team or have friends, family members, or co-workers that might be interested in playing or volunteering at the event – PLEASE tell them to join us at our kick-off party on

Here is the scoop!

What:      Ping Pong Kick-Off Party!
When:     Tuesday, March 9th
Time:       6:30-8:00 pm
Where:    Character Bar inside the Austin Music Hall, 208 Nueces Austin, TX 78701

We will be taking early registration and handing out important marketing materials about the event out to potential team members! This tournament will sell out! All entries are on a first-come first-serve basis.  Entry is limited to 100 teams! So please register early!


We have two categories to select from:

Recreational Doubles (I have played once or twice in my life!)
Competitive Doubles (You basically ROCK at Ping Pong!)

PLEASE RSVP if you plan to come to this kick-off party

Questions about the Kick-Off Party, playing or volunteering at the tournament – contact

Robin at 916.4775 ext. 22 or

February 25, 2010 at 7:21 pm Leave a comment

Snow Science

I LOVE THE SNOW!!! Growing up in Austin, TX you don’t see weather like today very often. Look how amazing Girlstart’s backyard and van looks covered in snow!

Fun Facts about Snow

What is Snow?

When water freezes inside clouds, ice crystals form. Ice crystals are crystals that have formed around tiny bits of dirt that have been carried up into the atmosphere by the wind. The ice crystals join together creating snow flakes. Once the flakes are heavy enough they fall to the ground as snow. Each snowflake is made up of from 2 to about 200 separate crystals. In addition to a normal snow fall, snow can drift to the ground lightly as flurries, fall heavily as a snowstorm, or pile up quickly by being blown by strong winds in a blizzard.

What Color is Snow?

Believe it or not, snow is actually clear/transparent. Snow appears white because the crystals act as prisms, breaking up the light of the sun into the entire spectrum of color. The human eye is unable to handle that kind of sensory overload. Therefore, we see the snow as white or sometimes blue.

How many Snowflake shapes are there?

Scientists believe there are five common shapes of snow crystals; long needles or flat six-sided crystals, hollow column that is shaped like a six-sided prism, thin and flat six-sided plates, six-pointed stars and intricate dendrites.

What makes the different shapes?

The shape that a snow crystal will take depends on the temperature at which it was formed. Colder temperatures produce snowflakes with sharper tips on the sides of the crystals and may lead to branching of the snowflake arms (dendrites). Snowflakes that grow under warmer conditions grow more slowly, resulting in smoother, less intricate shapes.

  • 32-25° F – Thin hexagonal plates
  • 25-21° F – Needles
  • 21-14° F – Hollow columns
  • 14-10° F – Sector plates (hexagons with indentations)
  • 10-3° F – Dendrites (lacy hexagonal shapes)

The colder it is outside, the smaller the snowflakes that fall. The fluffiest snow falls at temperatures around 15°F.

Hexagonal Plate


6 Pointed Star


Hollow Columns

Sectored Plates

Additional Snowflake Patterns

February 23, 2010 at 9:01 pm Leave a comment

Engineering 101

As National Engineering Week comes to an end, I hope you have enjoyed discovering new and exciting things about engineers and their many professions.Here are a few fabulous resources to help continue your knowledge about engineering and information on how to best communicate this wonderful career opportunity to your children.

Engineer Girl
Engineer Your Life
Design Squad

Check back next week for more activity ideas!


February 20, 2010 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

Safety First

The Winter Olympics have been filled with exciting moments, but when athletes are competing for Gold their risk of injury is higher and their protect gear becomes extremely important.

Here is another video by NBC and the National Science Foundation about science and engineering in the Olympic Winter Games.

Link to Video

As athletes push themselves to their limits and sometimes crash or collide, they rely on protective gear to keep them safe. NSF-funded scientists Katharine Flores, an associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Ohio State University, and Melissa Hines, the director of the Cornell University Center for Materials Research, explain the physics of a collision and exactly how this gear, especially safety helmets, works to prevent injury.

Here is an activity to use the Design Process you learned earlier this week.

Keeping Your Head “Egg” Safe

Half-gallon milk carton/box
Fresh Eggs
Packing or Soft Materials (bubble wrap, paper towels, etc.)

Create a shell/helmet to protect the egg from breaking if dropped
Understand the importance of protecting our heads/brains during activities

1. Show the materials
2. Explain the objective “protect the egg”
3. Let the creative juices flow
4. Test your design*
5. Observe results
6. Discuss solutions for change
7. Redesign
8. Try again!

*Test design OUTSIDE. Stand on chair or ladder to drop carton.

Talking Points
What material worked best to protect the egg? Why do you think one material worked better than another? Can you think of other materials that would work better? How do you think the protective material absorbs energy? Why is it important for us to protect our heads?

Thank you for a great Engineering Week!!!


February 19, 2010 at 10:46 pm Leave a comment

Engineering at Summer Camp

Make new friends at Girlstart’s Designer Paradise Summer Camp!

Grab your hard hat and high tops! Explore how engineering is all around us from robots to fashion. Build the ideal city, construct spectacular bridges and design an online game for your friends to play.

Campers will discover exciting professions from industrial to manufacturing engineering. Register TODAY and receive a $25 discount! (Discount available until March 22nd)

February 18, 2010 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

This weekend, February 20th, Girlstart will be at The University of Texas Girl Day!

Girl Day gives 1st thru 8th grade students a chance to:

  • have fun doing grade-specific, hands-on engineering activities,
  • meet students, professors and engineers from industry, and
  • see what it’s like to be an engineer

What type of engineer would you like to be?

Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering
Working with biologists and medical doctors, bioengineers develop artificial organs, prosthetic devices, and medical instruments. Bioengineers also work with agricultural and environmental engineers.

Chemical/Biological Engineering
Chemical engineers develop methods to transform raw materials into products we use every day. This means they play a crucial role in producing pharmaceuticals, soft drinks, and even makeup.

Computer Engineering
High in demand, computer engineers deal with all aspects of the design, construction, and operation of computer systems. That means these engineers might specialize in operating systems, computer networks, software, or hardware.

Electrical Engineering
If you can switch it on, chances are that an electrical engineer was involved. Electrical engineers devise ways to take energy from turbines, fuel cells, hydroelectric plants, and solar panels and transfer it to homes, factories and businesses. They also design components that move digital information from place to place, meaning that they’re behind much of the technology into computers, cell phones, satellites, and televisions.

Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical engineers design and develop everything you think of as a machine – from supersonic fighter jets to bicycles to toasters. Many mechanical engineers specialize in areas such as manufacturing, robotics, automotives, and air conditioning.

Materials Engineering
Materials make plastics, metal, and ceramics work for us, turning raw substances into useful products like Gore-Tex, high-performance snow skis, and fiber-optic cables. Teams of material engineers created the U.S. Air Force’s stealth technology that renders a fighter plane’s surface nearly invisible to radar.

Aerospace Engineering
Aerospace engineers have created some of the world’s most daring flying machines. They design and develop military fighter jets, commercial airplanes, and spacecraft as well as race cars and aerodynamic golf balls.

February 17, 2010 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

Design Process

Engineers follow a design process with each new creative idea!

You can be the engineer to create a Paper Copter!

Hang Time

* A few sheets of paper
* Scissors
* Paper clips (1 large and 1 small)

FETCH! from PBS KIDS has a great Copter template, click here!

1. Cut out the the template
2. Cut along the dotted lines
3. Fold tab A over tab B
4. Fold tab C over tab B
5. Fold blades/tabs D and E in opposite directions
6. Attach paper clip to bottom tab
7. Hold Copter as high as you can
8. Let GO!!!

Does your copter spin to the ground?

How this works?
When you drop your copter, its blades hit the air. The air pushes back on the blades, giving each one a little push forward. Notice how the blades are not exactly across from each other. This means that one blade is nudging one side of the copter around while the other blade is nudging the other side around. These two pushes work together to spin the copter around its center point. The spinning blades hit a lot of air on the way down, and all this air pushes back on the blades. The more air you can get to hit your blades (i.e., the more push-back you can create), the slower your copter will fall.

Now use the Design Process to recreate your paper copter. Did you cut the blades/tabs differently? Did you add more paper clips? How does your first copter spin differently than your second?

Thank you FETCH! for a fun activity!

February 16, 2010 at 10:30 am 1 comment

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