Lab Coat Confidential: To Places Unknown

It’s been a great semester so far here at FirstHand, and it’s hard to believe that some classes are already deep into prototyping and presenting their final projects! During a recent busy day of laser cutting and cooking bioplastic, Girard College 8th grader Tori took time to sit down and answer some questions for Lab Coat Confidential.

Tori is a veteran of the FirstHand program, having completed Polymer Play last semester and now on her way to an awesome final session in AmpItUp. She has created batteries from pennies and fruit, designed a customized bioplastic snapback, and met with researchers from the Immunome lab. Here we talked about what she likes to do in her free time, her latest ideas and inventions, and how she has learned to feel more confident about herself as a young scientist.

Above, Tori working on the prototype of a handmade bioplastic hat in Polymer Play.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to go to my friend’s house or the library. And I like to use the internet to discover things. I like to watch compilations of things people create and see if I can recreate it but better or differently. I made a violin out of my guitar once.

What’s a favorite invention you’ve seen or an idea you have for a new invention that you would like to create one day?
When we were making bioplastic, we learned about a plastic film that you can cut and then peel off. So for your school IDs, you could keep recycling plastic and use the same ID but rip off the film with your old picture and put a new one on it. I’m not sure exactly how it could happen, but I like the idea.

In general, why do you think science and STEM are cool?
I never liked science and STEM at school. But when I’m here, Maya makes a way for me to have fun with them so I actually want to go to those classes when I’m at school. This class strengthens me at school. And it’s like… even though I get frustrated if I don’t understand something when I first start it, she just gives me advice and gets me through it.

What’s been your favorite experience at FirstHand?
Probably the challenges. They get my confidence up and help me explore more and think more than usual.

Since you’re like a veteran of FirstHand programs now, what advice would you give a new student just starting the programs?
My advice would be to just stay calm. You’ll get frustrated, but it will go by like that [snaps]. And then you’ll start to want to come here more often and start missing the program!

Fill in the blank. When I put on a FH lab coat, I feel…
… Bravery.

As a curious person, I…
… tend to think outside the box.

If I could go on a field trip anywhere in time or space, I would go…
… somewhere that hasn’t been discovered. Yeah. I would find a new place and if I was able to land there and survive I would start a different world!

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the FirstHand program?
Make it longer!