E.A.G.R. Philadelphia

EAGR 2nd Anniversary Update

Welcome to a new semester and a new school year of EAGR workshops!

Fall 2014 Flyer

Fall 2014 Flyer

Our first workshop was planned and carried out in the Fall semester of 2012, and so we’re happy to celebrate our two year anniversary this month.

With the help of UPenn graduate departments and the administration of The Franklin Institute, we’ve reached over 300 High School freshmen in ten independent and interactive workshops.

With the help of UPenn’s Science Outreach Initiative, we prepared and submitted a major federal grant application, which has motivated us to seek out additional sources of funding.

Our goals are clear: We seek to establish interactive workshops as a central component to the community outreach programs at major research institutions around the United States. Our success at UPenn has been encouraging, but we are still looking for new and exciting ways to reach more students with our unique brand of educational outreach.

We are currently looking for motivated students and post-docs who are passionate about teaching STEM disciplines to youth audiences. If you’re interested in becoming an EAGR ambassador in your department, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Stay tuned, so much more is ahead!

-Riley & Luke, EAGR Co-founders


Tim Minchin’s argument for Human Communication

Actor and Comedian Tim Minchin’s acceptance speech for an honorary doctorate touches on many of the values we share at EAGR. Be pro-stuff, not just anti-stuff.

Have a listen to a great list of advice from a brilliant person.

“Be a teacher, please? Please please please be a teacher. Teachers are the most admirable and important people in the world. You don’t have to do it forever, but if you’re in doubt of what to do, be an amazing teacher. Even if you’re not a teacher, be a teacher. Share your ideas don’t take for granted your education, rejoice in what you learn AND SPRAY IT”

Spring 2013 Semester Highlights

Philly Sunset by R. Graham

In the Fall of 2012 the EAGR Philly team was formed with two goals in mind:

1) To introduce Philadelphia’s High School students to advanced graduate research topics.

2) To provide a setting for graduate students to disseminate their research to K-12 audiences.

We are happy to report a successful Spring 2013 semester of collaborative EAGR workshops wherein 9th grade students and graduate researchers from the University of Pennsylvania came together to conduct hands-on biology experiments and technology workshops.

Three times this semester The Franklin Institute’s collaboration with the Science Leadership Academy, known as Wednesdays at the Franklin, was hosted by graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania.

We covered a great range of topics ranging from Plant Physiology to Computer Science, and were able to complete our goal of hosting three workshops in our second semester as an organization.

Our two hour workshops combine a short informative lecture by the hosting graduate student, followed by a 90 minute hands-on interactive workshop.

UPenn Biology PhD student Ruby Cortes led a lively plant physiology experiment that taught students how to make stomata impressions, and how to recognize differences between mutant stomata and wild type stomata. This workshop combined principles of genetics and plant physiology, and gave many of the 9th grade students their first look at an experimental mutant phenotype.


Upenn Engineering PhD student Morteza Hakimi led an introduction to computer science workshop, in which students from the SLA learned to write several simple programs in the Python programming language. After working through the basics of Python commands and fundamentals of communicating with a programming interpreter, Morteza asked students to write their own code, including “Hello World” and an english to piglatin translator. This simple program takes an alphabetic input like “Hello” and returns the pig latin translation of the input word “Ellohay”

Students learned the basics of the python programming language.
Students learned the basics of the python programming language.

This summer the EAGR team is meeting with faculty and administrators within The Franklin Institute, The Science Leadership Academy, and The University of Pennsylvania in efforts to expand the EAGR program to include more departments, more graduate students, and more workshops led by Philadelphia’s extraordinary population of graduate students.

Stay tuned for more exciting events from EAGR Philadelphia!

EAGR Welcomes New Advisors

We could not be more thrilled to welcome two new members to the EAGR team, Dr. Timothy Linksvayer and Dr. Frederic Bertley, who will act as our UPenn Faculty Advisor and Franklin Institute Staff Advisor respectively.

Dr. Frederic Bertley, VP of Science and Innovation at The Franklin Institute

Dr. Frederic Bertley, VP of Science and Innovation at The Franklin Institute

Dr. Bertley is the Vice President Science and Innovation of The Franklin Instutite, and will provide support by hosting EAGR workshops, advising our educational outreach efforts, helping EAGR to build connections with students, science educators, and community members.

Dr. Timothy Linksvayer, Associate Professor at The University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Timothy Linksvayer, Assistant Professor at The University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Linksvayer is an Assistant Professor at The University of Pennsylvania. He will be advising the development of EAGR courses, providing consultation on experimental designs, networking with local academic colleagues, and interacting directly with students during EAGR workshops.

As the EAGR network grows, Dr. Linksvayer and Dr. Bertley will be indispensable assets to the program as leaders in Philadelphia’s scientific education community. Their time is greatly appreciated, and their presence as advisors on the EAGR team is sure to enhance the workshop experience for students and educators alike.

Wondering how you can get involved? That’s great!

The first step is simply to get in contact with us.

You can also find more information about our program at our program information page, or you can visit these pages to find out about staff and volunteer opportunities.


3 Lessons for Educators and Policy Makers

IN his 2013 State Of The Union address, President Barack Obama called on our nation’s educators and policy makers to make “America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing.” To do so, our Nation must increase our ability to expose  young people to advanced research within the national education system.

President Barack Obama During the 2013 State of the Union Address

President Barack Obama During the 2013 State of the Union Address

President Obama continued on to say:

“Now is not the time to gut job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race.” 

We share these beliefs with President Obama, and the E.A.G.R. team is ready to answer the call by providing exposure to advanced research topics to high school students in Philadelphia.

We’ve come up with 3 Lessons for America’s Educators and Policy Makers that we believe will help to shape our nation’s education system into what it should be: The most effective education system world-wide.

1. Policy is only one way to make a difference – Federal, State, and City officials have a long road ahead of them when it comes to fostering world-class Science Technology Engineering and Math education programs in our public schools, but at E.A.G.R. we believe that the onus does not rest solely on policy makers. We believe that to make a difference every community member should to take an active role in educating tomorrow’s brilliant minds.

As educators, we feel it is essential that parents, siblings, mentors, and teachers go the extra mile to introduce young people to exciting fields of the sciences, and expose them to compelling applications of research programs in the STEM disciplines.

Education Equals Future

2. The First Step is Believing  – Our young people can’t be expected to understand the breadth and depth of research going on in their communities without being exposed to them. It’s up to educators, family members, and community leaders to take on an active role in our students’ futures.

The most important step is the first one, simply believing that our students can achieve anything they put their minds to. With enough support around the home and in the classroom, students will be more willing to take on technical and academic challenges with confidence.

eagr apple

3. Educators Are a National Asset: For too long our nation’s educators have been marginalized by a culture that is disrespectful to teachers. Educators in The United States work exceedingly long hours, often with income levels that do not compare to careers in business. In order to attract the country’s best and brightest minds to help educate our children, it’s imperative that we build a culture of respect for Educators.

In 2010 CBS news reported on the success of Japanese teachers, and the dynamic of respect for teachers among the students and community members in Japan. According to the report, the Japanese spend just 3.3% of their GDP on education, compared with 5% of GDP in The United States. Still, teachers are paid about  15% more in Japan than in The United States, and the culture of respect attracts great minds to dedicate themselves to educating others.

Read the Original CBS News Article

Don’t allow President Obama’s words to fall on deaf ears. Take a step today to improve our nation’s education system any way you can.

Together we can, and will, build a brighter future for America’s Students!

EAGR Philly 2013 Outlook

Happy New Year!


The EAGR team would like to welcome you to another exciting semester of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math workshops for high school students led by local graduate researchers. This Spring students from the Science Leadership Academy will engage in three interactive experiments that are designed and facilitated by graduate students from The University of Pennsylvania.

EAGR Philadelphia was founded in the Fall of 2012, and our pilot interactive experiment was a success, in which students and researchers gathered at The Franklin Institute to carry out a social behavior experiment. This Spring we have three workshops planned, and are working to develop a multi-week crash course. In 2013 EAGR will grow towards our goal: to develop meaningful partnerships that facilitate interactions between high school students and S.T.E.M. graduate researchers in Philadelphia.

This matters to everyone – Students in Philadelphia’s primary and secondary school systems need our help to succeed in today’s competitive job market. Experience in STEM topics prepares high school students for college applications, introduces students to new horizons, and can spark a lifelong interest in science, engineering, and math. Graduate researchers benefit as well by gaining experience and exposure to the classroom and workshop environment, discussing their research interests with a young audience, and participating in community education outreach.

Since everyone involved benefits from the EAGR program, why not GET INVOLVED yourself?

Check back soon for more information on the Spring 2013 EAGR workshop schedule, including a list of topics that will be covered and graduate researcher profiles!

Our First Workshop

Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy

Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania

EAGR Philly is proud to announce a successful first science education workshop was held at The Franklin Institute on December 12, 2012. During this two hour session, 40 Students from Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy met with a graduate researcher from The University of Pennsylvania who is studying social behavior in animals.

The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA

The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA

During the pilot workshop, students performed a simple animal behavior experiment that asked the question: “How well can a colony of ants choose between two nest options?” Each group of four students was given a colony of local Philadelphian acorn ants (Temnothorax curvispinosus) and a dissecting microscope. Students then placed two nest options in the test environment, and removed each colony’s current nest. The ants were then given a one hour cool down period, during which they were able to explore both potential new nest sites.

Students from Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy work on a social insects workshop at The Franklin Institute

Students from Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy work on a social insects workshop at The Franklin Institute

During the one-hour cool down period, the SLA students listened to a thirty minute presentation on social behavior, insects, cooperation, and competition. Students also watched several videos of social behavior in action, ranging from flocks of birds and fish, to colonies of Amazonian Army Ants. The presentation concluded with several videos from the GRASP lab at UPenn, a laboratory that is combining principles of social behavior with engineering to develop automated mechanical swarms of flying robots that are controlled not by human hands, but instead by a colony optimization algorithm.

EAGR's first educational workshop asked students to investigate social insects and collective decision making.

EAGR’s first educational workshop asked students to investigate social insects and collective decision making.

After the cool down, each of the four students in every group counted the number of ants in each nest site, and then averaged the result and entered them into a collaborative data spreadsheet.

Science Leadership Academy Students discuss the experimental setup at The Franklin Institute on 12/12/12

Science Leadership Academy Students discuss the experimental setup at The Franklin Institute on 12/12/12

This lab was intended to inform students about principles of animal behavior, social insects, sociality, data collection, animal husbandry, estimation and averaging.

The next EAGR workshops are tentatively scheduled for March, April, and May of 2013.

Please Check back soon for more updates!