The Culinary MD

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Today we got to meet Dr. Jennifer Carroll, who is a medical doctor, professor, AND research director at the CU School of Medicine. She is also one-half of the Culinary MDs, on a mission to spread healthy eating through easy, delicious recipes.

After learning about her 20-year career and wide range of experiences as both a doctor and a researcher, she showed us how to make a raw cauliflower “couscous” salad. We were surprised at how tasty and satisfying you could make a meal using only fruits and vegetables!

Try it at home!

Hematology: The Physiology of Blood

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Today we welcomed a group of awesome engineers from Terumo BCT, a global leader in blood management, blood safety, therapeutic apheresis, cell therapy and cell collections.

They taught us all about blood and the various functions it serves in our bodies, such as homeostasis.

We also explored the properties of UV light and how it interacts with various materials, in order to understand how they are used in the health industries. We learned that Terumo BCT uses UV light to sanitize donated blood, so the blood containers need to allow UV light to pass through. Prescription bottles, on the other hand, are engineered to block UV light because it can damage the pills.

Finally, we learned about centrifuging which is used to separate blood into its individual components by density: plasma, platelets, white blood cells (leukocytes), and red blood cells. Then we got to see centripetal force in action while creating spin art!

Wearable Tech

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Today we got to meet two amazing ladies from Boulder: Emily Platzer, a senior software engineer at ConnectedFi, and Janet Hollingsworth, a civil engineer and woodworker who runs the BLDG 61 makerspace at Boulder Public Library. Emily spoke to us about her career as a software engineer and leading teams of engineers, as well as her many hobbies which include tinkering with Raspberry Pis, making her own clothes, and competitive yarn spinning!

Emily and Janet brought their passions to us in the form of a fun and challenging project. We each made our very own light-activated bracelets using leather, conductive thread, a coin cell battery, sewable LED, and photoresistor. The photoresistor detects the presence of light and allows more current to pass through the LED based on the amount of light it detects. If the photoresister does not come into contact with any light, it cuts off the circuit keeping the LED off.


Kicking off 2018-19

We had a blast meeting each other and collaborating on Trashin’ Fashion – designing with upcycled materials in the spirit of creativity and innovation!


Meet your chapter leader


Michelle Lim is a freelance software developer and educator from Queens, NY. Over the last several years, she has had the pleasure of working with (mostly women!) artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and community organizers to build websites, apps, digital art installations, and custom business tools. She is the co-founder of mmmanyfold, a creative development studio, and co-captain of Code for Denver, a volunteer civic tech group.

Michelle has been teaching Computer Science part-time at Title I public schools in Denver and Aurora since 2014. Prior to this she served as an AmeriCorps member at Youth Villages, where she provided individual tutoring, classroom support, and after school enrichment to youth receiving treatment for severe trauma and complex behavioral difficulties at a residential psychiatric facility in rural Georgia.

Since moving to Denver, she has also taught workshops at the Denver Art Museum, Library 21c, and Boulder Public Library. She loves to create meaningful learning experiences that uplift and empower the next generation of creators.

Tech Challenge: Prototyping Phase

Last month, we were introduced to our challenge and started brainstorming ideas. Today, we put those ideas into action and start creating prototypes to explore our ideas further.


  • Moveable platform to hold paper
  • Must move page in four directions (XY axes)
  • Must not impede use of right hand
  • Must be able to operate with head movements

Inspiration for motorized XY movement:

Tech Challenge: Kick-Off & Ideation Phase


Today we met the amazing Dr. Cathy Bodine, a Bioengineer and Assistive Technology Partner at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus.

She showed us how her team creates assistive technologies for clients with severe disabilities, and shared some of the unique projects and challenges they have worked on.

Then, Dr. Cathy told us about a new client, a boy with muscular dystrophy who loves to paint (and is quite good!). But he can only move his hands in a 2 inch range of motion, so someone always has to be there to move the paper for him while he paints. This is quite frustrating for him, as you can imagine.


Design a table that allows him to paint independently.


  • Moveable platform to hold paper
  • Must move page in four directions (XY axes)
  • Must not impede use of right hand
  • Must be able to operate with head movements

We kicked off this challenge by learning about the User-Centered Design process, and had a brainstorming session to generate ideas.


Today we met the amazing Michelle Mellenthin, a biomedical engineer and post-doctorate researcher. We learned about her experiences with Engineers without Borders and her current research on technology that helps damaged lungs function properly.

We then got to construct our very own Foldscopes (origami microscopes) and used them to look at images of healthy vs. damaged lung tissue, among other things! We were even able to attach the Foldscope to a cell phone camera for a more enlarged view.

The Foldscope was developed by Manu Prakash and designed to cost less than $1 to build. It is part of the "frugal science" movement which aims to make cheap and easy tools available for scientific use in the developing world.

Learn more about foldscopes and Manu Parakash's other inventions by watching his TED Talk:

Holiday STEM Crafts

Today we built our very own buzz bots using a toothbrush head, coin vibration motor, and coin cell battery. Along the way we explored electric circuits and prototyping to arrive at our own unique designs and figure out how to improve the bots' sense of direction, speed, and overall bling.

Then we continued flexing our prototyping muscles (and taste buds) with a gingerbread building contest. A delicious, messy, creative challenge!

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Forensic Chemistry

Today we got to meet Lynn Riemer, an experienced forensic chemist, illicit drug expert, community advocate and prior member of the North Metro Drug Task Force in Colorado. We learned all about her extraordinary experiences in the field, and the major role chemistry plays in solving crimes.

We also got to experiment in our own version of a crime lab, observing reactions between commonly known powders and various solutions. We were then able to use these observations to correctly identify an unknown substance! [download activity]


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This month we met two awesome ladies from HawkQuest who brought us an interactive lecture featuring FOUR living birds of prey:

  • Harris' Hawk

  • Great Horned Owl

  • Peregrine Falcon (fastest animal in the world)

  • Bald Eagle (top predator in the world, not counting humans)

Dion and Dara were very knowledgable and taught us a lot about the different kinds of raptor species!

Kick-Off & Trashin' Fashion!

We had a blast meeting each other and creating Trashin' Fashion – designing with upcycled materials and a "STEM" theme.


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New Year, New Blog

Welcome to the new North Arvada Middle School Blog!

If you're curious about what we were up to last year (2016-17), be sure to check out our old blog at :)