STEM Career Tours

Inspiring the pursuit of science, technology, engineering and math literacy, skills, and careers.

Category: STEM Careers (Page 2 of 2)

Science in the Lab

Citizen Science Lab

As part of the STEM Career Tours, we took an exciting stop at one of Pittsburgh’s best laboratories for those interested in STEM. The tour was led by Carrianne Floss, who is the program coordinator for the Citizen Science Lab. The lab is used to learn about the life sciences. The student’s got a chance to hear about the wonderful camps and event that the lab offers throughout the year, as well as get a chance to see the facility. We also got to hear about some interesting developments in science such as bio blocks. Perhaps the most exciting part of the day for the students was when they got a chance to see all of the resident pets that the lab and see all of the equipment that can be used by the students in the future. The Citizen Science Lab is open to everyone from middle school to high school students, educators to parents, and undergraduate and graduate students. All are welcome to use and discover new possibilities using the lab. The obvious high point of the day was when the students got to meet the snake they had at the lab. Everyone was super excited to meet him and it definitely put a smile on all of the student’s faces!

Inspiring by Doing

The mission of The Citizen Science Lab is to offer a hands-on laboratory where people from all over can come to explore and learn all about the life sciences. Their message is that through hands-on learning, students of all ages will learn more by doing. When students are hands on with the projects they are working on, it is typically a more inspiring experience for them because they are actually working on something and not just being lectured about it. The Citizen Science Lab also works on doing summer camps, that teach in all aspects of science from zoology, to 3d printing, and even to microbiology. It is clear that the Citizen Science Lab is doing everything they can to inspire the next generation of STEM students and we were truly blessed to be a part of their day and to learn about what they do.

A Trip to Millie’s Ice Cream

Getting a Cone

STEM Career Tours had the pleasure of taking a look at Millie’s Ice Cream with the Providence Heights Alpha School. Going along with the tour was their teacher, Mr. Beeaham, and together we explored the wonderful process of how Millie’s Ice Cream makes their famous ice cream! Not only did we go to the storefront to see how it is distributed, but we also found out how they make their ice cream.

The student’s enjoyed seeing the process of how one of their favorite foods was prepared, and really took a liking to what science applications were being applied to the ice cream making process. The process really inspired the kids and they asked plenty of questions along the way. Millie’s was impressed with how eager the students were to learn about ice cream!

One of the key features that Millie’s prides itself in is their use of fresh and natural ingredients. Millie’s truly believes that other ice cream companies are being “lazy” and try to take shortcuts when making their products. The shortcuts might be more cost efficient, but the quality of the product just won’t compare with a company like Millie’s that does everything correctly. Millie’s makes small batches of their product so they can ensure that every part of the process is done naturally and that there are no preservatives and no cheating done.

The Science of Ice Cream

The basic components in the making of ice cream are ice crystals, fat, sweeteners, and air. Ice crystals are formed when the base of the product starts to freeze and it gives a solid body to the ice cream. The fat adds the richness to the ice cream, and the sweeteners come in the form of either sugar, honey, or syrup.

The process of making it starts with preparing the liquid base of the ice cream. Then, it goes through pasteurization, which heats the liquid to eliminate all of the bacteria in the product. Then comes the homogenization, which is when the fat is broken up and dispersed throughout the liquid. This is done by churning, and this is when the ice cream starts to thicken up. After it ages and matures for a while, it goes into the freezing process and then it eventually hardens into the ice cream we all know and love.

The texture of the ice cream is all dependent on the type of cream that is used in the process. The higher the fat content you have in the cream, the better the texture you will have for the final project. The more fat you have in the product, the richer the ice cream comes out, and the less fat you have, the creamier and lighter the product will be.

There are many STEM principles found in the making of ice cream, the students had a blast learning about ice cream and seeing it made!

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