Lil' Scientists


One of SAFG’s main goals is to engage girls for the long term in STEM. We hope to accomplish this by inspiring the girls in our classes to return for more or continue to purse STEM in other venues. In this edition of the SAFG newsletter, we would like to highlight one of our impressive girls who has done just that. Breana has taken every one of our classes offered at Curiosity Hacked since its inception in 2014.  She started with SAFG when she was in second grade.  She is now finishing her 9th session! We sat down with Breana and asked her what she liked about the class and why she keeps coming back:  “It’s very fun! Every day we get to learn about different things each and every time and how to make that thing, we also have visitors (role models)…it’s very interesting. We get to do a lot of hands-on projects.”

Sabrena, Breana’s mother, added, “Breana’s interest in science has increased over the past couple of years she has been involved with SAFG. I've noticed that she is more confident in her work there. She comes home with a smile weekly because she has created something new and enjoys telling me the step-by-step process of how you all created the assignment for that week…I appreciate SAFG so much, because without it, she would not have become my lil’ scientist”.  Breana’s mother also remarked, “Her research skills have increased as well. I notice that she’s thinking things through more.”

When we asked Breana if the class has made her like science more she said, “Yes, way more than I used to. When I first started I didn’t think I was going to like it that much until I knew how much hands-on that we were going to do and learning and exploring outside.” Breana says she likes SAFG because she gets to do everything herself versus in school where they don’t get to do hands-on projects.

SAFG classes also aim to help build confidence around science and the girl’s knowledge to help them in science during school.  Breana told us that recently she was discussing electricity in her science class at school and she already knew all about it from an earlier class at Curiosity Hacked – you could see that she was proud of herself.

All of SAFG classes provide the girls opportunities to do hands-on projects that are exploratory and thought-provoking.  Breana has experienced all of our curriculum.  When asked what her favorite projects have been she said she liked the “ArtBots” because it was cool to learn how a piece of plastic can turn into a robot that draws - and of course she liked building the marshmallow blaster out of PVC pipe (this seems to be one of SAFG’s most popular projects across all of our sites!).

Finally, Breana told us that when she grows up she wants to either be a scientist or a doctor. We love to hear that! Her mother agrees too, “I hope that Breana will continue to grow with SAFG and become a scientist or engineer in her adulthood. It takes programs like (SAFG) to keep these girls motivated and going, honestly.”

We are so happy that we have the opportunity to see Breana grow, help build her confidence, her collaboration skills, and her love of science! For Tiffany and me, Breana is a true success story for SAFG.

Courtenay and Tiffany

Spring Session Highlights


Pow, Bang Fizz, Science Whiz!

We are just finishing up six sessions this spring at Peralta, Curiosity Hacked, Anna Yates, Horace Mann Elementary and our new site, Roosevelt Elementary in San Leandro, which has been a delight to serve!  This Spring most sites had an absolute blast doing chemistry and forensics science. Lots of explosions, erupting concoctions, chromatography, making slime and elephant toothpaste, and just getting messy! One thing we have learned about our classes, the girls love to take projects home – well, this session it was a bit harder to do that with the majority of the projects involving crazy liquids and mixtures. But this didn’t stop one of our girls at Peralta – her mom told us how her daughter keeps sneaking home the concoctions from science class in her lunch containers! Fun!


We will be having an end-of-the-year party at Anna Yates Elementary for girls at Anna Yates, Peralta, and Curiosity Hacked on June 2nd at 5:30pm.  This will also give us a chance to thank our fabulous SAFG teachers, Rachel, Sonia, Deanna, Sara, Elaine, and Charlotte.  They truly make the SAFG program the incredible program that it is – thank you for all of your hard work this year engaging and stimulating the minds of more than 250 girls this 2015-2016 school year.  We also want to thank our three near-peer mentors Treasure Metters, Scarlet Nakadawa-Lee and Ursa Kaiser as well as our two interns Mary Murano and Sparkle Phelps for assisting in classes - big thanks!

SAfG Summer STEM Programs

SAFG Summer Camp


SAFG is continuing its third season of summer camps with a new curriculum, “Green Design”.  Girls will learn how about green design as they build an eco-friendly playground throughout the week. Female STEM role models in green architecture and structural engineering will also join the girls for a fun project and talk about their fields. For more information, please go to: Spots are going fast!

STEM Summer Library Program with Lawrence Hall of Science

SAFG and Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) are partnering this summer to offer an exciting, engaging STEM Summer Library Program at Eastmont and 81st Libraries in Oakland – “Scientific Adventures for Girls, their Brothers and Friends”. At Eastmont kids will have a chance to get messy with dancing oobleck, slime time and more. At 81st kids will be challenged to design spaghetti marshmallow structures, an earthquake-proof house, packaging for chocolate chip cookies and more!  This is a new program and great opportunity for SAFG to work with the renowned LHS. Classes will be held once a week starting June 15th. For more information, please go to:

Fundraising Update

SAFG is very excited to announce it was just awarded a grant from the Oakland Berkeley Association of Realtors (OBAR) that will send 10 girls to STEM summer camp this June and July. Thank you OBAR for your generous support in our community!

We also want to give a big thank to Tesla Motors for donating four factory tour passes for an upcoming fundraiser.  More details on this exciting event to come!  

If your company or foundation supports STEM education, we would love to apply to your corporate giving program.  Please send us an email and let us know if there is a grant opportunity.

If you or someone you know would like to support our scholarship fund to send girls to STEM camp and afterschool classes, please donate on our website.

Scientific Adventures at Home

Get ready for summer vacation and make your own ice cream!



  • Large (1 gallon) plastic jar (a coffee can works, too) 

  • 2 quart-size zipper-lock bags 

  • Half & Half 

  • Crushed ice (or snow in the winter!) 

  • Rock salt 

  • Vanilla 

  • Sugar 

  • Towel (or winter gloves)


  1. Fill the plastic jar about half full with crushed ice.

  2. Add about 6 tablespoons of rock salt to the ice. Seal the plastic jar and shake the ice and salt for about five minutes. You’ll need to wear your gloves when you’re handling the jar. If you’re curious as to why you have to wear gloves, measure the temperature of the mixture with a thermometer. The rock salt and ice mixture gets down to about 14 degrees F (-10 degrees C)!

  3. Use one quart-size zipper-lock bag to mix the following ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup of Half & Half

    • 1 tablespoon sugar

    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  4. Seal tightly, allowing as little air to remain in the bag as possible. Too much air left inside may force the bag open during shaking.

  5. Place this bag inside the other quart-size bag, again leaving as little air inside as possible and sealing well. By double-bagging, the risk of salt and ice leaking into the ice cream is minimized.

  6. Place the two bags inside the jar with the ice and seal the bag. Wrap the bag in the towel or put your gloves on. Shake, rock, roll, and mix that can! Your ice cream should be ready after about 15-20 minutes.

  7. Once mixed, remove the inner bags from the jar and rinse them well with water. You don’t want any salt water accidentally getting into your ice cream.

How Does it Work?
Just like we use salt on icy roads in the winter, salt mixed with ice in this case also causes the ice to melt. When salt comes into contact with ice, the freezing point of the ice is lowered. The lowering of the freezing point depends on the amount of salt added. The more salt added, the lower the temperature will be before the salt-water solution freezes. For example, water will normally freeze at 32 degrees F. A 10% salt solution freezes at 20 degrees F, and a 20% solution freezes at 2 degrees F. When salt is added to the ice (or snow), some of the ice melts because the freezing point is lowered. Always remember that heat must be absorbed by the ice for it to melt. The heat that causes the melting comes from the surroundings (the warmer cream mixture). By lowering the temperature at which ice is frozen, you were able to create an environment in which the cream mixture could freeze at a temperature below 32 degrees F into ice cream.

Courtesy of Steve Spangler Science and Howtoons