Friday, June 24, 2011

5th day of the SEED program

it's the 5th day of seed, 6 days away from my long weeek vacation so excited :) anyways, everything is so far so good. Mary is back teaching me more things. We tried to get started on my project but the moe program doesn't work on my computer ughh -_____-, so now we have to wait for Bonnie to reinstall it. I've been reading so much lately though. My junior year in school, I should have an A in both english and physics. I also started making up my hours, I've made up 5 hrs so far.. so that means 5 down 30 more to go yaaay!(sarcastic v.) but that's kinda it for now.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

as the days go on..

It is now the fourth day into project seed and now im starting to understand so i think a lot of my reading. I think it is going to be pretty fun once i get in the lab...but what i wanted to say was.. i present next Thursday and im really nervous.. Today Liz and Marissa presented and they were asked a lot of questions which i know im gonna get a lot of that too.. i hope i can do it..

blog challenge#1

Ooops -_- I forgot about this. But anyway My name is Chelsea Weidaw and I am going to be a junior at Sto-Rox High school. I live in a kinda small town called McKees Rocks right outside of Pittsburgh, PA.
This summer I really hope too accomplish a lot. I hope to find out what kind of hard working person I really am and to see if I can make it through the hard times of college work. I know this isn't going to be easy, but if Mr. Lucas didn't think i could do it i wouldn't be here. So I believe in myself to accomplish many things this summer. I hope to expand my vocabulary and not use the same boring works I do.
So my first impressions of project seed were that omg..this is gonna take up my whole summer i am not gonna have a life and this is going to be so hard. But now that i am a couple days into this project i am feeling comfortable and i am ready to see what things i am going to learn. I'm really excited. So i think what im going to be working on is some kind of analyzing of hairs and seeing if i can pull chemicals from the hair and figure out what it is. maybe. But i am going to be working a lot with the instrument called GC/MS..
Well thats all, let the summer begin :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Duquesne Press Release

Hey everyone. Here is a link to an article in the Duquesne Times.

Yay! Project SEED

Hello again! My name is Liz Thornton; I am a student at Sto-Rox High School and live in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. I will be entering school as a senior this year, and am a second year Project SEED student. Last year when I first began my research in Dr. Cascio’s lab under the guidance of Chelsee, an amazing graduate student that help me so much, I did not think I would ever understand what it was that I was supposed to be doing. I spent the first week reading the same three papers over and over again. I picked every other word apart and put them into Google. Then I read the papers again. I went to Chelsee to get a better understanding of what parts of the paper I should spend the most time learning, because they were the most relevant to what I would be doing. Then I went to Mr. Lucas and read it again with his help. Although he couldn’t help me very much because he doesn’t do biochemistry and didn’t know many of the biology words used the way he told me how to figure them out really helped. After reading for the same paper over and over again even when I closed my eyes I could see the words. It was hard work, and my sister who is an alumni of Project SEED warned me it would be tough, but that I had to be persistent, and I was. Soon I understood what I was doing and little by little everything that I didn’t understand started making sense. It just takes time, energy, and the want to learn it. This year I am working on the same project, which is mutating the ɑ1 glycine receptor which will aid in understand the conformational changes of the receptor and help in studies that could help treat neurological disorders related to the nervous system, but since my cells are working I will be doing more than just the mutation part of the procedure.
Along with the hard work came the great fun that came with knowing all the Project SEED students (even the adopted ones…Chris). We would spend our lunch time eating and playing and just enjoying getting to know each other and becoming friends. From the lunch time to the field trips we became a family. We turned to each other for help and to vent our problems. We encouraged each other to do our best, and pushed each other. Having the opportunity to spend this summer with three students I already know from school, and two students I am excited to get to know I expect it to be just as amazing as last year. The week of summer I spent waiting for Project SEED to start did not feel like summer without Project SEED my summer would be awful. So now that Project SEED has started so has my summer, and I know it will be an awesome one!

Blog challenge #1

Hello, my name is Dwayne; I attend Central Catholic High School in Oakland, and live in the Lincoln area of Pittsburgh.

I came into project seed this summer with the intention of learning and gaining a better understanding of the field of chemistry. While I still hope to accomplish just that it seems as though the task is going to be a bit more of a challenge than I originally thought. But that simple fact will not hinder my plight towards my goal of knowledge. The next goal that I was hoping to accomplish this summer was to gain an experience that will be useful at a later time.

With all that said my experience thus far has been good. My mentor as well as all the graduates and undergraduates that I will be working with are all exceptionally nice people, and really know what they are doing and talking about. My initial thoughts on the work that I will be doing this summer are of a skepticisitc nature. Not skepticism that what I am attempting to do can actually be done, but skepticism that I will be able to fully comprehend and understand my topic in the eight weeks the program lasts. my skepticism however is somewhat diminished by mentors who promise me that it is possible and will be done (I believe them). Perhaps now is a good time to say what my topic is, so in my topic I am looking to find self-assembled monolayers on titanium alloy strips (let me just say its a lot more complicated than it sounds). So far I have delved right in to the experiment over the past two day already testing my first six samples of titanium in 12-hexadeldecanoic using the infrared spectrometer. Let me end by saying all of the people that I have met so far including Mr. Lucas and my fellow ProjectSeed members are great people, and very nice

Starting the grind

It is now the third day of the project, and I'm only starting to grasp the basics of my topic. The slow going progress I'm experiencing is new to me, because I've always been a fast learner. Compared to my usual speed, I'm feeling about as fast as molasses, and thats being generous. Very generous. I guess I'm going have to get used to this. I'd say it has humbled me, but I think I'll save that line for later. After all, it's gonna get a lot harder before it gets easier.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blog challenge 1

Hello, my name is Sonny Smarra, I attend Sto-Rox high school and I live in McKees Rocks.

I think it's fair to say my hopes for this summer can be boiled down into one word; SURVIVE. As of this moment, the work I'm scheduled to get done is on a seemingly impossible to reach plateau. However, I had hoped for this very situation: I came into this program looking to be pushed to my intellectual limits, and right now it seems like that will be no problem. My main goal for this summer is to to be able to hold my own in a conversation with my professor about my project (which by the way is Predicting the protonation states of amino acid side chains in the protein complex cytochrome bc1.) and to develop work habits that will help me in all facets of my life.

Okay, heres the fun part. My first impressions of this program. When I was first told my project name,(Predicting the protonation states of amino acid side chains in the protein complex cytochrome bc1.) my first thought surprisingly wasn't ,"Whaaaaaa??!!?!". I was too busy marveling at the respiratory strength needed to say that in a sentence. So it's safe to say when I met the staff here I was pleasantly surprised. I expected a bunch of hard nosed scientists who didn't want to be bothered by a meager high school student. Instead, I was greeted with respect and I can sense that all of the professors are very passionate about education and their respective projects. I still have no idea what my project is, but I can say i have faith that everyone will do their part to explain everything to me. Now i just have to worry about understanding it.

First Blog Challenge #1

My name is Deja. I attend Steel Valley High School in Munhall, PA and I live in Homestead, PA.

During the SEED program I hope to accomplish many things that will help me in my later life. I look forward to finding out and doing new things. I'm also looking forward to the extra money I will be making to help me start my savings for college. I'm hoping to make new friends and getting to know everyone a little better. My experience so far has been great, I met the SEED students and the undergraduates that will be helping me this summer. I didn't get to meet my professor yet but I'm looking forward to that also.

My first impressions so far on this program is WOOAAAHH! it's going to be a long summer. Learning how to create all these things and also being the youngest person doing what I'm going to be doing. I feel more educated already. Today I did do a couple tutorials molecules. I will be learning about the salts in the different molecules and how we can decrease them a little. I will also be learning about the Hofmeister series and many other things, so this shall be a very interesting and great learning experienced summer. I really had no clue what this was going to be like when I signed up for it but now that I'm here, I'm glad I did sign up for it.

First day at project seed

my first impressions of project seed are good ones, the people are very nice and I think that this will be a very interesting experiance that I will remember for a long time. I hope to gain exactly that an experiance that will last a lifetime, as well as a better understanding of the field of chemistry. so far today we recieved a general overview of the program went to human resources, and now write blogs.

Senior Year~ Blog Challenge #1

I missed you Project SEED! Remember me? I'm Marissa De Fratti, senior at Sto-Rox High School, which is in Mckees Rocks. Last year I worked in Dr. Pintauer's lab with Carol and Matt studying the Opitmization and Parameterization of IR and GC for Simple Reaction Mixture Analysis in ATRA. That all sounds quite fancy, but really it's very simple. Basically all I did was study the reaction of ATRA (Atom Transfer Radical Addition) with the Gas Chromatographer and the Infrared Spectrometer. Most of the research was conducted on the GC though, because the IR was broken for the majority of the summer. Actually, the GC broke pretty often too, but it was easier to fix. I really hope that doesn't happen this year...
The first few days of SEED weren't nearly as bad as last year. I remember walking into my lab, see everything and everyone, and then wondering what I got myself into. The whole first week I struggled to comprehend that there were even such things as ATRA, halogen atoms transfer agents, or different mol% catalysts. It felt like there was no way I could understand all of this and present it at the end of the summer. But after the first week things started to get clearer. Slowly I began to understand all the jargon and reactions. Eventually I could even run my reactions on my own (well, Phoebe was there too.) By the end of the summer I could say the ATRA reaction in my sleep. Everyone I worked with, students(undergrads, grads and high schoolers) and professors alike all ended up contributing my success and I miss everyone who didn't return this year...
In a lot of ways though, this years a lot better. Its more comforting to come back to the lab that I was already in last year, instead of starting over new; though only three people were still there since the rest had graduated. I got a new graduate student(Raj), who was there last year. The project we're working on, is loosely related to my previous one with ATRA, but the jargon and advanced technical terms have become familiar. This year we're working on Coordination Copper Complex Polymers. Technically I'm only working on coordination copper complexes since in order to make the polymer I would need to use AIBN, but I can't since it's too explosive. Overall, making the complexes is pretty simple. The difficult parts are waiting for the solutions to precipitate(assuming they do) and hoping that there's a good yield. My first one didn't go to well; we only got a 37% yield. I'm hoping the next ones I make will go a little better?
Anyway, the first weeks always the hardest and I know it gets easier after that. I'm kinda sad that Matt, Ash and Sean are gone and that Will will be leaving at the end of the week, but the new people are fun. I still have Raj and Carol comes back at the end of the week anyway. :D
And so...I hope this year ends up being even better than the last one.

Blog Challenge #1

For our first blog challenge write about the following:

1. Identify yourself, your high school, and the neighborhood where you live.
2. Write a paragraph that describes what you hope to accomplish this summer.
3. Write a paragraph that describes your initial impressions of Project SEED, the work you will be doing, and the people you've met so far.

If you are returning SEED student adapt the above.

Best written, most reflective wins.

Make sure you label all blog entries with your name.

Judging will be by close of business Wednesday.

First thoughts

Overall science is a pretty intimidating idea. I mean, how can you even grasp that you're dabbling in something that took our race hundreds of years to come up with? That is why initially I was frightened at the idea of SEED. However, as i sat down at the conference table to meet my fellow participanta I couldn't help but also be excited. This seems like it will be a fantastic oppurtunity and something that will help me not only in my future, but the here and now. I can honestly say that I think I'll flourish under these conditions. I find that I'm at my best when I'm hard at work, putting my nose to the grindstone. This in no way should detract from the complexity of what we'll be doing here though. I yawned while Dr.Aitken was explaining something and was lost in the huge void that is my ignorance for the rest of her explanation. I think it will suffice to say that I'm genuinely excited for this program and looking forward to the days ahead. +

First Day!

My first day is going well so far, learning new things is always interesting. I'm excited to see what else project seed has in store for us for the summer. I was kinda nervous because I'm really not good at meeting new people I'm kind of shy as everyone can see but once I get to know everyone better I'll let loose a little. This seems like an early college life experience, I hope for the best & hope that this helps me in later life.

First day

Coming into project SEED today I was very nervous. I didn't know what to expect or who I was going to be meeting. Once we had the meeting and everything was explained to us what was going to be going on my nerves calmed down. Now I am very excited to start working in the lab and learn a lot of things I am not aware of. During this experience I think I am going to benefit from many things. This will show me how ready I am for college and to figure out how capable I am of handling things on my own. This will also help me become more comfortable with speaking in front of people because im not that good at it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Only 13 more days until Project SEED starts up again. Can't wait to meet the new students!