During the winter 2020 semester, the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History trained 75 undergraduate researchers to communicate their science to the public. In response to COVID-19, more than 30 students adapted their projects from hands-on demonstrations to an online format.

Enjoy a sampling of their videos, comics, and infographics!

If you try any of these experiments at home, document your experiment and tag us on social media (#UMMNH, #MuseumAtHome).



The Science of Immunity

Audience: Teens, Adults
Grades: 9+
Duration: 6 minutes 

Have you ever wondered how your immune system works? How about when immune cells grow uncontrollably, as in cancer or leukemia? In this video, undergraduate researcher Shannon Liang guides us through the two main types of white blood cells and the mechanisms by which they protect us from pathogens.

Shannon Liang is a sophomore majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. She researches a gene that has the potential to cause cancer in the Mark Chiang Laboratory. Shannon created this video as part of a summer science communication workshop run by museum staff, MCDB Horizons, and Michigan Research and Discovery Scholars programs.



Resistance: Cancer Meets Choreography

Audience:  Children, Family
Grades: 3+
Duration: 4 minutes

Samba, ballet, kabuki, salsa.....dance is a universal art form that can convey countless emotions. But what about dance and science? Science and art collide in undergraduate researcher Ritu Somayaji's project titled "Resistance." Ritu incorporates Indian classical dance and spoken word into a video about her research on cancer stem cells.

Ritu Somayaji is a rising junior studying Biochemistry. She is part of the Nör Lab and her research investigates cancer stem cells and their role in chemotherapy resistance. She loves to dance and has been dancing since the age of 6 in a style of Indian classical dance known as Bharatanatyam. Ritu shot and edited this video as part of the UROP-Research Scholars program.

Self-Driving Vehicles: Transportation of the Future

Audience:  Teens & Adults
Grades: 9+
Duration: 5 minutes

Marty McFly and Doc had the DeLorean. Batman had the Batmobile. The movies are full of futuristic high-tech cars, but what does the future of the automobile really look like? And why should we care? In this infographic, undergraduate researcher Erin Weinhold shares her work on self-automated vehicles at the U-M Transportation Research Institute. 

Erin Weinhold is a senior studying Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience with minors in Spanish and Gender & Health. Her other research interests include the effects of punitive immigration policies on migrant youth and the role that birth order plays in familial relation. Erin created this infographic as part of ALA 270: Science Communication, a course taught by museum staff.

A College Student's Guide to Sleep

Audience:  Teens, Adults
Grades: 9+
Duration: 5 minutes

We've all heard that sleep is important, especially for college students. But exactly how sleep deprived are we? And what can we do to make sleep a priority? Join Sara Spillman, U-M design student, for a data-driven sleep debrief featuring guidance from Michigan Medicine.

Sara Spillman ‘22, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, works across many mediums: photography, digital design, drawing, and sculpture. Sara created this infographic as part of ALA 270: Science Communication, a course taught by museum staff.

How do Cities Grow and Change?

Audience:  Teens & Adults
Grades: 9+
Duration: 10 minutes

Almost everything changes, but not all things change for the better. This is particularly true when it comes to cities. Many of the changes we see in cities are driven by urban renewal programs that have big consequences for the people who live and work there. Recent graduate Madeline Bacolor shares her research on neighborhoods affected by urban renewal in San Francisco, as well as how the history of urban renewal is linked to our current struggles with housing and racism in urban planning.

Madeline Bacolor is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan Program in the Environment with a specialization in urban and environmental planning. Madeline aspires to improve transportation systems and increase affordable housing. She created this infographic as part of ALA 270: Science Communication, a course taught by museum staff.

Delving into Fossils

Audience: Children, Family
Grades: 5+
Duration: 5 minutes 

Did you know not every fossil is completely removed from its surrounding rock? How do paleontologists still learn what lies beneath? Janel LaPalm teaches us about what techniques are used to explore fossilized remains.

Janel LaPalm is a third year student in the U-M Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. She is an avid hiker and outdoors person. She is interested in the Great Lakes and paleontology. Janel created this video as part of ALA 270: Science Communication, a course taught by museum staff.



The Greenhouse Effect

Audience:  Children, Family
Grades: 3+
Duration: 5 minutes

You've probably heard that greenhouse gasses are causing climate change, but without the greenhouse effect, life on Earth would not exist! How does that work? Learn what happens when Earth's atmosphere gets too much of a good thing in this hand-drawn comic. 

Kei K. is a fourth-year student in the University of Michigan Program in the Environment with minors in Japanese and music. She also works as a Planet Blue Student Leader using community-based social marketing to promote sustainable behaviors on campus. Kei created this cartoon as part of ALA 270: Science Communication, a course taught by museum staff.

Too Many Dam Problems

Audience: Teens, Adults
Grades: 9+
Duration: 4 minutes 

Growing up in the shadow of California's Matilija Dam, Luke Creger spent most of his life accepting dams as a part of the landscape. Inspired by the 2014 documentary DamNation, he set out to learn about the history of hydropower in the U.S. In this short video, Luke explains the environmental damage that dams do to endemic fish species, and how each of us can take action to restore ecosystems.

Luke Creger ‘21, BS, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, is an avid fisherman who aspires to merge his interests to build a business that furthers sustainability and creates cleaner rivers. He created this video as part of ALA 270: Science Communication, a course taught by museum staff.



Blowing up the atmosphere to predict the weather better?

Audience: Teens, Adults
Grades: 6+
Duration: ~5 minutes 

What are the ingredients for cooking up an accurate atmospheric model? And what happens when the recipe goes wrong? Join applied mathematician and U-M undergraduate researcher Owen Hughes on an adventure from the clouds to the kitchen, where he explains how mathematical models help scientists predict the Earth's weather patterns.

Owen Hughes is a senior studying applied mathematics and scientific computing through the University of Michigan Department of Mathematics. Owen works as a research assistant conducting atmospheric modeling as a part of the Atmospheric Dynamics Modeling Group. Owen also has participated in autonomous vehicle research with the Robotics and Optimization for the Analysis of Human Motion Lab. He has a passion for sharing the power and playfulness of mathematics to combat "math-phobia" and improve access to STEM learning for people of different ages and backgrounds.



Acid Mine Drainage

Audience:  Teens, Adults
Grades: 9+
Duration: ~10 minutes

Hundreds of geese dead in the water? Rivers running orange? If this sounds like the premise of a horror movie, think again! These are just a few of the environmental impacts of poorly managed mining operations. Mining is necessary to power the modern world, but it can also have shocking consequences. Uncover the chemistry of acid mine drainage and learn what you can do to advocate for responsible mining.

Caleb Jelsma-Cale is a second-year student in the University of Michigan Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. He is also a project lead for Woven Wind of BLUElab, a U-M student organization that designs and constructs wind turbines while also teaching about sustainability and renewable wind energy. Caleb first learned of acid mine drainage in his coursework and drew the connection between mining impacts and public policy.

Speech, Stuttering and Rhythm

Audience: Youth, Adult
Grades: 8+
Duration: 11 minutes 

Who's got rhythm? We all do! But did you know that adults and children who stutter perceive rhythm differently? In this video, undergraduate researcher Jeremy Taigman connects the dots between speech and rhythm. You can try a real rhythm discrimination test and learn how these tests are improving speech therapy.

-Jeremy Taigman is a senior majoring in Neuroscience and a researcher in the U-M Speech Neurophysiology Lab with Dr. Soo-Eun Chang and Dr. Emily Garnett.



Asthma and the Immune System

Ages: Children and Family
Grades: K-2, 3-5
Duration: ~15 minutes
Materials: Ruler, Exacto knife, Pop bottle w/ cap, drill, bendable straw, tape, hot glue, pipe cleaners, two water balloons, one regular balloon, scissors

Discovering new science can be like a breath of fresh air! But if you have asthma, taking a breath can be quite the challenge. Undergraduate researcher Molly Shea takes us on a deep dive into the science behind asthma. Whether you prefer to learn by doing a craft, listening to an expert, or playing an online game, Molly has something for you!

- Molly Shea is a senior majoring in Neuroscience and a researcher in the Lundy Lab.



An Introduction to Computer Science

Ages: All
Grades: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Duration: 5 minutes

You probably use a computer every day, but how do all of your apps and programs work? When you search a website, how does the computer know where to take you? Join U-M Computer Science student Allison Kench as she answers these questions and more! Learn about Allison's journey as a woman in STEM and discover how coding is really all about helping people.

- Allison Kench is a rising senior in Computer Science at the U-M College of Engineering. She is a member of the Women in Science and Engineering Residential Program and was an intern in the Microsoft Explore Program in 2019



El Fascinante Código del ADN

Ages: Children and Family
Grades: 3-5, 6-8
Duration: ~10 minutes
Materials: Twizzlers, gumdrops, toothpicks

Desde su descubrimiento en 1953, la estructura de doble hélice del ADN se ha vuelto icónica. Esa estructura es lo que permite que el ADN funcione. ¡Daria, una estudiante de biología en U-M, explica en español! Bono: ¡Hay dulces! 



The Fascinating DNA Code

Since its discovery in 1953, the double helix structure of DNA has become iconic. That structure is what allows DNA to function. U-M biology student Daria explains in Spanish! Bonus: There's candy involved! English subtitles.

- Daria Pyrozhenko is a senior in Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology and Spanish (Dept. of Romance Languages and Literatures) and a researcher in the Dlugosz Lab.



Kidney Functions

Ages: Children and Family
Grades: 3-5, 6-8
Duration: ~15 minutes
Materials: coffee filter, two clear cups, popsicle stick, yellow food coloring, salt, sponge, red or pink beads, beads of a different color

What do your kidneys have in common with your dryer and your car engine? U-M undergraduate Hollyann Stewart will answer this and other questions about these important organs with a fun at-home demonstration.

- Hollyann Stewart: is a graduating senior in Art and Design. Discover her portfolio here.

Avoid Pain, Protect Your Brain

Neuroscience student Roksolana Sudyk works in a lab that studies the brain. Her clever comic will help you explore the role of special membranes that protect your brain. It’s eggcelent!

-Roksolana Sudyk: Junior in Neuroscience & Psychology and undergraduate researcher in the Parent Laboratory

Cheerios and Your Cells

How do your blood cells use iron and where does that iron come from? Try this experiment and variations: How does the strength of the magnet affect the experiment? Does this work better if the cereal is ground up? Floating in milk? Share your results with us on social media!

-Casey Hedman: Junior in Cellular and Molecular Biomedical Sciences and undergraduate researcher in the Nagrath Laboratory.

Proteins and Their Structures

No paparazzi, please! Why does U-M biology student Benjamin Moy take so many pictures of proteins? Learn about proteins and the tools scientists use to capture their close-ups.

-Benjamin Moy: Graduating Senior in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and undergraduate researcher in the Nandakumar Lab and incoming medical school student.

Cell Culture in the Kitchen

You may have heard about the nationwide bread baking trend that is sweeping the nation while people are sheltering in place. What does sourdough have to do with skin cancer research? Julia Van Goor explains in this infographic.

-Julia Van Goor: Junior in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and undergraduate researcher in the Skin Cancer Biology Research/Dlugosz Lab

Science in the Dark

Do science in the dark! Learn about fluorescence from biology student Emily Rozich and make your flowers glow.

-Emily Rozich: Senior in Cellular and Molecular Biomedical Science and undergraduate researcher in the Buttitta Lab