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Jun 26

Needed: Game Design Team Members

How would you like to be part of a team making a game about the WW2 missions of the C47 SkyPlane flown by Captain  Edward “Elmo” Frome. This particular plane flew two Resupply missions over the Battle of the Bulge on December 24th and December 26th, 1944 in which it dropped supplies from parapacks as well as from inside the fuselage to the surrounded troops below in the city of Bastogne. It also took part in Operation Varsity, the single largest air drop of troops and supplies during a single day, even to date. Over Varsity it towed two Waco CG-4A gliders full of troops.

A team of game designers (will you be one?) will work the week of July 10-14 in both Scratch (for the new to programming) and Unity (for the experienced) to develop a working game by Friday’s visit to the Air Heritage Museum for demonstrations. We need programmers, graphic designers, one more person to work on webpage and merchandise, and one to work out the music.  We’ll be facing frantic deadlines working in sofrware new to us and having a great time.

Grades 5-12
 July 10-14
 Mon-Tue-Wed-Thur-Fri  |  9:30 am – 3:00 pm
at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic
1617 PA-228, Cranberry Twp, PA 16066


In the process, we will learn some of Jesse Schell’s Game Design principles (Dr. Schell is a CMU professor who literally wrote the book on game design and owns Schell Games in Pittsburgh – one of the best places to intern as a student interested in Game Design).

Making a game is hard work, particularly when it is your first time. Most things worth doing are a struggle. Stick with it, persevere, and leave behind a meaningful game that helps make the world more beautiful and people more wise. Are you ready! Let’s get started.

Presented By:  Dr. Ellen Cavanaugh

CEO of Grow a Generation
Director of the Baden Academy Media Lab
Director of Beaver County STEM
Coach to national award winning mobile app, robotics, engineering, and space-themed competitions.

Registration Deadline: July 10, 2017



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Jun 19

What Adware?

The Internet on Lockdown


The Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic computer science principles class took a visit to RedMorph as part of the STEM Career Tours. RedMorph is an outstanding startup company from Pittsburgh that focuses on protected your devices from cyber threats. Their revolutionary software is not only able to track, but block incoming adware from outside sources other than the website itself. RedMorph is even able to tell you who put the ads up and how you can better protect yourself from cyber attacks. When we were at their office, they told us to open several sites on the computers so we can see how vulnerable the computers were. The employees then opened up what they like to call the “spyderweb” which shows all of the information from those sites and all of the adware that was being displayed. Just one of the websites the students went to had 24 cookies and 3 trackers on them! They explained to the students how computer cookies could help with loading pages faster, but also be dangerous as they hold personal information in them. The students were so intrigued by this incredible software, that most of them had already downloaded it to their smartphones by the time they left! Their main goal is to not only protect but to educate everyone on the dangers there are in the online world.

The CEO and founder of RedMorph is Abhay Edlabadkar, who is also the one who we toured with. He told us the story of when he first came up with the idea of RedMorph, which is when started noticing his own children picking up cell phones and innocently scroll through sites without realizing what information they were giving away about themselves. It was then that RedMorph was conceived as a filter device that allowed not only his children, but all children to be safer on the internet. It was from there that RedMorph grew into the company they are today and are now protecting people all over the world.


RedMorph has been an extraordinary friend to Grow a Generation as they are one of our research fellows. We have entry conversations with the team as we try to devise a better curriculum to enable smart internet use in all of our students and teachers. RedMorph is truly an inspiring company, and they really taught an important lesson to all of the students who visited. In the quickly growing internet based culture we live in today, it is up to companies like RedMorph to protect us, and the mission and goal of RedMorph is something that everyone can look up too.


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Jun 19

Exploring Noveome

As part of the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic STEM Career Tours, we took a trip to visit Noveome. Noveome is a company that specializes in biotherapeutic products. The people at Noveome were gracious enough to post an article about the trip we took to visit them. Written below is the article and here is a link to the article for sharing:

Noveome Shows Its Work to Future Scientists




Noveome Shows Its Work to Future Scientists

When a group of high schools students walked into Noveome Biotherapeutics, Inc.’s offices and labs recently, many of them were wondering whether they might be looking at their own future. “This is a chance to experience things in case we truly want to go into that field,” said Noah, a senior at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School. He was among the 15 students – 3 boys and 12 girls – who visited Noveome as part of an Advanced Placement Biology STEM career tour. A majority of these students said they were interested in pursuing college degrees in the sciences.

Having just learned about cell interaction, they were fascinated by Noveome’s research and product development involving paracrine signaling, the process by which human cells communicate with other nearby cells in order to keep them healthy and functioning properly. Noveome is developing ways to mimic paracrine signaling to re-establish that communication when it is impaired by injury or disease. “We make a product here that goes into human clinical trials,” explained Cathy Trumpower, Noveome’s Associate Director of Manufacturing. She told the students about two FDA-approved Phase 2 clinical trials Noveome is currently conducting for its product, known as ST266. One trial is testing ST266 as a potential treatment for periodontitis, while the other is testing it as a potential treatment for allergic conjunctivitis.

As the students came to understand, Noveome’s pioneering work centers on special cells and what they secrete when handled a particular way. “Here are 65 million cells,” Tyler Okel told a group of the students on the first stop of their tour. He was showing them a one-inch vial he had pulled from a freezer cooled by liquid nitrogen, which maintains the temperature at lower than minus 140o Celsius. Tyler explained how Noveome begins making its product by collecting a certain population of cells from placentas acquired after full-term, scheduled C-section births. These cells are collected at Noveome’s tissue processing facility in Clearwater, Florida, then stored and shipped to Pittsburgh in a cryogenic state. Each vial of cells is one of hundreds in a stack of boxes kept in the freezer. “We thaw about 10 vials at a time to put in our bioreactor,” he said.

Why this population of placenta-derived cells? As the students moved to another lab, Lead Biochemical Scientist Nathan Hazi explained. “Their job in the placenta is to bathe the fetus in all these different molecules to make it healthy and happy, and if there’s injury, to heal it as quickly as possible,” he said. “We’re taking those cells and culturing them under particular conditions to get them to make our product and to use that as a treatment for many different diseases and conditions.” As he spoke, Quality Control Analyst Kate Butler was giving the students a close-up view of cells in a culture flask using her digital microscope. “Do you see the medium on those cells, the liquid?” Nathan asked. “That’s what the cells use to grow. The medium becomes full of the molecules we want to use.” But culture flasks can produce only a limited amount of product, he said, “So, my job is to figure out how to make a lot of it.”

He took the students into the next room to show them a bioreactor. The one he pointed to is small, “baby size” as he described it, although down the road increased manufacturing will involve larger reactors. This one was equipped with ten plates inside to which cells attach themselves and grow as the liquid circulates through. The device was connected by tubes to several nearby tanks and by cables to a desktop computer. “Is that graph normal, with all those lines like that?” asked Kaylen, a 12th grader interested in becoming a Physician’s Assistant. She was looking at the computer screen. Nathan explained how the computer controlled the temperature, amount of oxygen, acidity levels, and other factors needed for optimal cell growth, and that the lines on the screen traced each level over time. “This point where they’re jumbled is where I changed the medium,” he said. “When I drain it out, that’s our product.”

The questions began to flow, not only from Kaylen, but also from fellow senior Rachel and juniors Bella and Bridget, all of who saw themselves working in health care. “How long does the process take?”, “How much product do you make?”, “If you were using that on a patient, how much of it would you need?”

One personal question came a few minutes later when the students had moved on to observe quality control procedures being undertaken by Kaysie Foust. She was using a multi-channel pipette to measure product samples for testing. “Do you ever get bored?” a student asked. No, Kaysie replied, saying the job of making sure the product is safe involves many different tasks. At the moment, she was checking the levels of different proteins in the product. At other times, she said she might look at cells for signs of contamination. Around the corner, co-worker Alberto Suarez was passing around plates he used to test for excessive amounts of bacteria. “Nothing dangerous,” he assured them.

Kaysie gave the students a challenge: use the multi-channel pipette to quickly transfer fluids. What appeared to be easy for a seasoned professional proved to be more cumbersome at first for those with less experience. This wasn’t the students’ first hands-on challenge of the day. Outside the Clean Room, Joe Brooker instructed them on the proper way of donning bio-suits and the delicate task of avoiding contamination – no touching with bare hands and no contact with the floor. “I already failed,” laughed Alex, a senior, as he and fellow students managed to suit up and pose for a round of selfies.

Throughout the tour, many questions concerned what each staff member had chosen as a major in college and the direction his or her career had taken since. The Noveome scientists, all of them young and bright, with a degree or two in various fields of biology or chemistry, encouraged the student scientists to get a good foundation in their studies and let the jobs that follow expand their abilities. “I didn’t go to college to learn how to culture cells. You gain the science and then you come to a job and get the skills you need,” Kaysie told them.

And what did the students learn during their tour that might affect their futures? “Here you get to see exactly what you might do,” said Noah, echoing his anticipation from earlier in the day. To which Kaylen added: “How it applies to real life situations, and how you’ll actually be helping people.”



Here is a slideshow with pictures from our exciting visit!

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Jun 19

Carbon Technology

Pioneering a Better World


As part of the STEM Career Tours, the students at Providence Heights Alpha School had the honor of visiting a company that has made it their mission for making the world a better place through carbon technologies. During World War 2, the military asked the Pittsburgh Coke and Chemical to develop a new material to use in gas masks to filter out the contaminants. It was there that the Calgon Carbon Corporation was formed with the goal of revolutionizing carbon technologies. The Calgon Carbon Corporation has made it their mission to protect people and the environment from contaminants in water, air, food and industrial processes. They do this through their various carbon technologies that use activated carbon. What is activated carbon? Activated carbon is a porous material that removes organic compounds from liquids and gases by a process that is known as adsorption. Through this process, the organic molecules contained in a liquid or gas are attracted and bound to the surface of the pores of the activated carbon as the liquid or gas is passed through it. Our students were amazed by what we saw at Calgon Carbon and were truly inspired by what the company is achieving. Most of the students had never heard of these processes before and were very interesting in learning further details by asking questions to our tour guides.

The end goal for Calgon Carbon is to create a cleaner and better world for people to enjoy. Their message to the students was not only inspiring, but also encouraging. The students enjoyed learning about how important the use of carbon technology is in our world, and how much contaminants can be found in everyday products and processes. We thank Calgon Carbon for taking the time out of their day to accommodate us and really appreciate them educating the students on their products and mission.


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Jun 18

Barbee the Bee featured in the Pgh Catholic

Barbee the Bee Visits Sr. Lyn’s Beehive, the book penned by 4 Baden Academy Research Fellows, was featured in today’s Pittsburgh Catholic.

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Jun 16

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.

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Jun 16

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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Jun 11

Frontiers in Learning Interviews Hannah Kimmick and Dr. Ellen Cavanaugh

Chris Shovlin from Frontiers in Learning recently hosted Mrs. Hannah Kimmick and I in their studio for a radio interview about the 6 Baden Academy Distiguished Educators.   Tune into the recorded podcast for the interview!

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Jun 08

Saying a Professional Farewell to Leah

For more than two years this phenomenal woman and professional has served as Star Lord to my Galactic Problem Solving. She has helped mentor over a hundred kids in the Baden Academy Media Lab, has led another hundred on STEM Career Tours, and served as confidant, business consultant, professional organizer and project manager.  She is leaving Grow a Generation to return to industry, seeking to put her chemical engineering to good use in the lab. {If you are a local firm looking for a talented chemical engineer, hard worker, quick thinker, and meticulous note taker, you’d be lucky to hire her!).

She approached every new challenge with a contagious enthusiasm and helped make the lab a place where everyone could flourish.  She has a sense of humor and genuine love of others that allowed for those moments when all the busy-ness was put on pause and everyone could enjoy what was immediately at hand.

Leah, you will be missed.  While professional goodbyes were said today, I hope that a lifelong friendship has been forged.  ~ Ellen


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Jun 08

Research Fellows book featured in the Cranberry Eagle

Thank you to Amerigo Allegretto for a great write up on Research Fellow Anna Rutkowski’s new book Nanoparticle Superheroes Defeat Evil Microbes. The text follows:

Eagle Staff Writer
Written by:
June 5, 2017

Click for larger picture

Anna Rutkowski, a senior at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School, recently authored a children’s book about Pittsburgh scientist Dr. Teri Dankovich and her invention that makes polluted water drinkable.

CRANBERRY TWP — Anna Rutkowski may be going to college soon for environmental science, but now she can add “published author” to her resume.

The Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School senior recently wrote a children’s book, titled “Nanoparticle Superheroes Defeat Evil Microbes.”

The book tells the story of Pittsburgh scientist Dr. Teri Dankovich and her invention of a nanoparticle-infused paper that makes polluted water drinkable.

Anna partnered with Dankovich to craft the story, then created the illustrations.

“I was inspired by her and her ability to create such an amazing invention that will save millions of lives in developing countries,” Anna said. “It inspired me to try and reach out to as many people as I can with my writing and illustrate the importance of clean drinking water.”

The 36-page book is intended for students from second to sixth grades.

Dankovich, who also is a co-founder of Folia Water, has developed and tested the technology for the past several years for a book containing filtering paper that kills bacteria in the water as it passes through. Her efforts are aimed toward less-developed countries that struggle with clean drinking water.

“It’s very important for American kids to understand that they’re basically really lucky that their basic needs are met without having to think twice about it,” she said.

Dankovich has her bachelor of science in textiles and fiber science from Cornell University, a master of science in agricultural and environmental chemistry from the University of California in Davis, a Ph.D. in chemistry from McGill University and completed postdoctoral research at the Center for Global Health at the University of Virginia and civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

Any profits from the book will go to Folia Water to assist in its mission to bring clean water to every person in the world.

“Every day, we just turn on the tap and we get water,” Anna said. “We can’t forget that there are people in developing countries who have to carry heavy jugs down rivers and get water that isn’t necessarily clean.”

Anna plans to attend Duquesne University in Pittsburgh this fall and continue her studies upon graduation. She said writing has always been a hobby for her.

She also said she wants to go into conservation and one day travel to other countries with endangered species and environments.

Anna described the process of working with Dankovich on the book as “an amazing experience.”

“She was such an amazing person,” Anna said. “She has given so much research to us and told us how this is done.”

Dankovich said Anna approached her last fall about the book.

“I helped her out with the details on the project,” she said. “I thought it was a good book and kept things simple so kids can understand.”

– See more at:

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