Volunteering at KikiLIVE 2.0!

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As I watched girls from ages 9 to 14 enter the cafeteria of Cincinnati Country Day School that morning on July 12, I remembered all the times my mother would drop me off to day-camps or classes in order to expose me to different things.  I never really enjoyed the actually “going” aspect of these activities. I liked to already be where I needed to be and all settled in. I imagined seeing my mother and me walking through the doors, our faces trying not to be betray our annoyance at the another.

While my younger self might have felt annoyed by her mother, I came into the day probably a bit more excited then some of the girls and I was just an observer. KikiLIVE 2.0 was a day-long workshop that got girls involved in science, fashion, and art presented by Kiki Magazine, a magazine that is helping to foster the like – and hopefully love- of science in young girls. I would have loved this magazine as a child. To be honest, as an adult now,  I look at some of the projects and put them on my bucket list to do later,  all with the hope of completing these projects with my 14 year old cousin but knowing that I will probably complete them by myself. And my bucket list of projects continued to grow that entire day as I chaperoned the girls from station to station.

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The overarching project of the day was for the girls to sew and decorate a bracelet that lit up whenever the two Velcro ends were connected. So they went to the Sewing Station to learn how to drape, make an idea board, and use a sewing machine to create the base of the bracelet, then the Circuit Station, where the girls met a Fashion Designer, who had just graduated DAAP from the University of Cincinnati, and with the help of Indiana University Students, used conductive wire, a light, and Velcro to  make the bracelet light up, and finally they finished it off at Inventables Station where they were able to decorate the bracelet or just make whatever they wanted from “junk” pieces.

I really enjoyed how at each station instead of just having the girls just make the bracelet, they were given the ability to do other things or meet people who have worked with the technology. For many of the girls, it was their first time either sewing with a sewing machine or even sewing at all. Some of the girls in my group – the Rachel Roy group, to be exact – actually said they really enjoyed the draping part of the sewing station and that they wanted to do that more. Other girls really liked the free design aspect of the final station because they were able to create whatever they wanted. I, personally, liked meeting the Fashion Designer who made this crazy jacket with lights running down the back of it. I almost asked her how much it cost because I wanted to walk out the door in it.

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But when the girls weren’t working on their bracelets, KikiLive provided some other great activities. There was the Tech Expo, which gave the girls the ability to try their hands at a lot of different things. Time Warner Cable allowed them to make cards that lit up, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County was there talking about 3D printers, showing the girls how one worked and letting them touch some projects that had come from the machine. Also, the Girl Scout Lego troop was there showing off their prize winning robot. There was an area set up where the girls could learn to code by making lights and beeps turn on-and-offon a Modkit. But my favorite part of the Tech Expo was the computer that allowed you to change the screensaver to one of the four seasons just but putting up a number with your hand. I felt like I was in Minority Report.

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On the opposite side of the Tech Expo was the Art Expo, where the girls got to paint with thermochromatic paints that disappeared (when the powder was mixed with glue) and changed colors (when the powder was mixed with another paint), and color in a girl form that was printed on the specially made Spoonflower fabric or even design a dress for Jamie Bryant, the Editor in Chief of Kiki Magazine, to wear. There was a self-cooling vest being showcased earlier in the day but by the time the Rachel Roy group made our way down to see it, they had to leave due to technical issues. I heard that it was quite amazing.

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The last station they had was the Textile Chemistry Station. Chemistry students from the University of Cincinnati gave the girls multiple swatches of different types of fabrics, e.g cotton, plastic, faux leather, etc., and had them conduct experiments on them. The girls tested how the reflectiveness of the fabrics in both regular light and black light, the tensile strength, how ink showed up them, and how absorbent they were.  As a safety precaution(and pre-teen eyebrow precaution), the Chemistry students showed a poster of  fabrics they burned with nitric acid and flame  to show how flame retardant they were. It really put into perseptive why my Lab Professors would tell us to wear jeans and t-shirts. The way that Nitric acid just tears through silk like butter makes me want to clutch my pearls and faint.

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At the end of the day, after the girls had created, eaten, and felt like Neo from the Matrix by controlling digital snowflakes with a wave of their hand, we all congregated in the auditorium with the parents to have a fashion show where all the groups of girls showed off what they created that day. Girls proudly modeled their bracelets or the paintings that were created using the thermopaints.

As they walked across, I imagined my younger self walking across the stage. Briskly walking and presenting my bracelet in the camera as the crowd clapped. I thought about how my mom would have asked me about my day, how I would have given her a nonchalant “it was alright. I ate pizza and did stuff.” But I know that afterwards, she would have been bugged to go out shopping for thermochromatic powder and led lights so that I could start trying to make what I did there on my own.  The great thing about science is that it is very d.i.y.  It always has been from the very beginning of its inception.

And the great thing about KikiLIVE 2.0 is that it helped girls see that, while helping me remember it, as well.

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