Friday, July 22, 2016

Emerging Engineers

This week, for Emerging Engineers, campers challenged their engineering skills with many activities! Take a look at what they accomplished this week:

On Monday, the campers started off by learning about the different kinds of engineers, and what those different engineers do.  Then they took their own quiz to find out which kind of engineer might fit them best!  Harry, the pompom with googly eyes, needed the campers' help to get the best view in the museum.  They had to build a structure to safely get Harry as high as possible!  The campers then found some Mystery Bags, each filled with materials and a challenge for them to complete.  Towards the end of the day, we let some HexBugs loose, and the campers got to play with our vibrating electric bugs.  The younger campers used the HexBugs to create an ArtBot, that drew beautiful squiggles (Now available for sale at the art fair). The older campers created mazes for the HexBugs to race around in.

Building ciruits
Making a human circuit!
On Tuesday, the campers played with electricity and circuits.  The campers built all kinds of cool creations with Snap Circuits by snapping together different components like Legos to build working circuits.  The campers also learned all about a short circuit and how to avoid creating one. Then the campers lit our energy tube by completing the circuit with their own bodies!  By forming human chains, the campers themselves became a part of the circuit. Later, the campers built retro circuits with stripped wire, batteries, and light bulbs. In the process they learned about parallel and series circuits, and the benefits of each circuit. Towards the end of the day, the campers got to experience the power of a lemon. Or four, to be exact. By connecting 4 lemons together with wires, galvanizes nails, and zinc pennies, the campers managed to get a small LED to light up. When life gives you lemons, make lemon-lights! 

On Wednesday, the campers learned about the manufacturing process, and mechanical engineering.   Using foam car pieces, the campers created an assembly line process to quickly assemble all of the cars.  Much faster than when they tried to build each car individually! Next the campers built crash test cars, where they had to protect a hard boiled egg from a crash. To end the day, the campers built their own roller coasters, complete with twists and loops! The campers used their engineering skills to get the marble to roll all the way down their creations. (It's harder than it looks!).

Testing the crash test cars

Building the crash test cars

On Thursday, the campers became structural engineers and were challenged to build the tallest structure they could using only newspaper and tape.  All the counselors were blown away with how creative all the campers were with their towers!  The younger campers made their own HexBug mazes, and had fun racing them. The younger campers also made pop-up cards, and learned about  The older campers started working on building their SumoBots for a battle on Friday.  Washtenaw Engineering for Kids made a special visit to help with the SumoBots.  They brought in programmable Lego robots, and the older campers got to program and assemble the bots!

On Friday, the campers started the day off with some Engineering Challenges.  Using only craft sticks, cups, and wooden cubes, the campers had to complete timed challenges by building the largest (stable) structure they can! After snack, the older campers returned to their SumoBots to put the finishing touches on them and to battle them.  The younger campers had their own program with Washtenaw Engineering for Kids, and got to build a variety of Lego animals and other vehicles complete with moving electric parts!

Sumobot Battle
The winners of the Sumobot Battle!
Programming their creation

Dinosaur Mysteries

This week at camp was all about investigating mysteries from the past: Dinosaur Mysteries!

On Monday, we learned all about dinosaur size. In one activity, we taped some footprints of a dinosaur called Coelophysis to the floor, spacing them apart so the stride length was 67 inches, and the kids tested their strides to see if they could outrun a dinosaur. 

Yellow group's dinosaur creation!

Drawing Dinosaur Teeth
On Tuesday, we had a tour of the second floor, focused on dinosaurs and their teeth! We learned about and got to touch the teeth of different dinosaurs. 

We also got to make our own diorama for a dinosaur that we got to take home, building it a habitat and making sure that it has plenty to eat in its home.

Next, we made activity lap books to help us sort dinosaurs by lots of different criteria, like when they lived, what they ate, and even how big they were. Finally, we used evidence to figure out who – or what – ate the Ammonite, a creature that lived millions of years ago!

On Wednesday, we focused on what dinosaurs are, and when they lived. We went on a tour of the 2nd floor to learn about what makes something a dinosaur, and played a game where we sorted different animals based on whether or not they were a dinosaur. We learned that some things that some people think are dinosaurs actually aren’t dinosaurs at all! Next, we made dinosaur timelines to show when dinosaurs lived, how long they lived, and what came after the dinosaurs. We also drew some murals to show what kinds of things were alive when the dinosaurs were alive, and what things live before or after the dinosaurs.

Lastly, we made some very fun-looking pterosaurs, and learned about how pterosaurs are actually NOT dinosaurs!

On Thursday, we learned all about fossils, the mysteries they hold, and the mysteries they can help us solve! For one activity, we looked at evidence from a prehistoric crime scene to decide if the animal died, or if it was killed! Next, we learned about layers in the soil under our feet, and did puzzles to see if we could figure out which layers went where in the dirt. After that, we worked in groups to be paleontologists, and looked at some paper “fossils” to try to figure out what kind of animals we had. Turns out paleontology is a lot harder than it looks!


Finally, we looked at footprints and saw how they can actually teach us a lot about what prehistoric animals were doing. We even put our dinosaur detective’s skills to the test, and had to figure out what had happened based on some dinosaur footprints!


On Friday, we asked, “Where did the dinosaurs go?” and we found some crazy answers! First, we learned about how dinosaurs went extinct, and read about some of the different theories that scientists have about why the dinos all died out. We used these theories to write stories about a dinosaur that lived, or didn’t live, through the extinction. Next, we learned about the dinosaurs that did survive: birds! We made paper kites of Archaeopteryx, the “missing link” between birds and dinosaurs. Then, we talked about how birds are actually dinosaurs and how they evolved from dinosaurs. We looked at dinosaur bones in the museum, compared them to bird skeletons, and saw how similar they look!