Thursday, July 2, 2015

Science Sampler

We've had a blast with our Science Sampler session here at Camp Explorations!  This week we learned about a new branch of science every day and got a taste for each one.

Converting energy 

Monday's theme was physics, so campers learned all about movement, energy, and much more!  Campers discovered how energy can be converted into different forms, designed and tested parachutes, and learned about oobleck.

Playing with Ooblek
On Tuesday we learned about chemistry.  We made "boo bubbles" with dry ice and tested out properties of bubbles.  Campers made bubble wands to try out at home, too!  You can even make your own super bubble solution!  Blue and Yellow groups also tested to see if there was water on planet Zork.  Ask them how they knew which of the samples was water!
Testing out bubble solution.
Holding dry ice bubbles

"Powers of Ten" game
Wednesday was all about Nanoscience.  Green and Red groups read Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who!, and made themselves Horton-size ears.  We learned how many nanometers we are, and learned about the size of other objects in nanometers with a fun game.  Lastly, campers made stained glass windows.  Ask them why we learned about these on nanoscience day!

Classic art meets pop culture.
A beautiful stained glass.

Horton-sized ears!

Our last day of Science Sampler was about engineering.  Campers created buildings step-by-step to make them as resistant to earthquakes as possible.  Ask your camper how they did it!  They also built Lego cars and tested them for speed and distance.  Finally, Campers discovered how electricity works and tested out circuits and conductors.

Potential energy

Kinetic energy

Red group and their engineered vehicles

We had a blast this week and we hope you did, too!

Digging Up the Past

Monday was our first day of camp.  Campers first learned the definitions and differences between archaeology and paleontology.  After a short, interactive quiz to test our new knowledge we were ready to check out some exhibits.  We got a chance to learn about the museum's mastodons and the humans who lived alongside them.  We even made our own "clovis points" which are a kind of spear head used by people of that period in this region.  Working as a group, campers also deciphered the order of the geologic time scale while learning about the major events and dominant animals of each period.  Our second craft of the day was making a piece of earth strata art.  Campers made a 3D picture of the unique layers of our earth's crust.  Paleontologists and archaeologists, alike, use an artifact or fossil's position within these layers to determine its relative age.
Building our strata craft

Adding rocks!
On Tuesday, we focused on dinosaurs!  First, campers got a tour of dinosaur highlights found on our second floor.  Once we were in the dino spirit, we colored and constructed our own styracosaurus hand puppets and learned about plant eating dinosaurs.  Do you ever wonder how dinosaurs and other animals get their names?  We learned about how dinosaurs are classified and grouped together by similar traits and then named for them.  Did you know Pachycephalosaurus means thick headed lizard in Latin?  We have one in our museum.  Fossils aren't usually found neatly put together.  It takes paleontologists a lot of time and effort to reconstruct a preserved animal.  We worked like paleontologists to reassemble our dinosaur reconstruction puzzles.  Ask your camper if it was easier to put the puzzle together with just a picture of a fossil or with a complete artist's rendition.

Styracosaurus hand puppets
Dino reconstruction puzzles!
Wednesday, we delved deeper into paleontology.  Campers also got a chance to simulate a real dino dig.  Using tools and techniques used by paleontologists, we dug up our own fossils casts and and decorated them with paint.  We also used our powers of inference to decipher some dinosaur footprint mysteries.  Our older campers even learned about how we learn about a dinosaur's size and speed just from its footprints.  Adaptations are an important part of survival for all creatures and an explanation for life's great diversity.  In our adaptation game we provided campers with different survival scenarios and they had to race to discover and choose adaptations that would help our animal survive harsh winters, blistering heat, lurking predators, and more.

Digging up our fossils!

Painting our teeth
Thursday was the last day of our shortened camp week.  Campers looked more closely at archaeology today and learned about ancient peoples rather than animals.  With our pot sherd mystery activity we learned how archaeologists can find the size and potential use of a bowl from just a small fragment.  We also tried our hand at cave drawings using pastels and crayons to draw our own depictions of ancient life.  What things are important to modern kids that we might find in our cave drawings?  Campers thought like archaeologists by looking through some artifacts and making inferences about their origins.  Where were they found?  How old do they look?  What modern day tools do they resemble?  These are all questions archaeologists ask to help them learn more about ancient people and their habits.
Planning our cave drawings
Working together for ideas
Working on our cave drawings

Monday, June 29, 2015

Science Sampler Questions

This week in our afternoon session we are exploring various fields of science!  Here are some questions to keep your camper engaged even after they head home.

On Monday we are learning about physics.  Ask me about...

  • The parachute I made.
  • What ooblek is.
  • How energy is converted.
On Tuesday we are learning about chemistry.  Ask me about...
  • What bubbles can and cannot do.
  • What "boo bubbles" are.
  • How heat affects glow sticks.
On Wednesday we are learning about nanoscience.  Ask me about...
  • My stained glass project.
  • How many nanometers I am.
  • The nano-story I wrote.
On Thursday we are learning about engineering.  Ask me about...
  • The buildings I made and tested on an earthquake simulator.
  • The Lego car I built.
  • The electric exploration stations.

Digging Up the Past Questions

The morning camp session is all about paleontology and archaeology as we learn about digging up the past.  Here are some questions to keep your camper engaged even after they head home.

On Monday, ask me about...

  • The difference between archaeology and paleontology.
  • My earth strata craft and how archaeologists and paleontologists know about relative ages of finds.
  • How ancient people hunted mastodons.

On Tuesday, ask me about...

  • My styracosaurus puppet
  • How dinosaurs are grouped by name.
  • A fact about our dinosaur tour.

On Wednesday, ask me about...

  • Our simulated dinosaur dig and my discovery.
  • The adaptation game we played!

On Thursday, ask me about...

  • Our cave paintings.
  • How archaeologists study and measure broken pottery.
  • What objects we used context clues to interpret.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Amazing Animals

It's been a wild week at Camp Explorations!  We've been busy learning about animals from around the globe!  From the freezing arctic to our own backyards, campers discovered facts about animals big and small.

Working hard to create the ideal habitat.

On Monday we learned about habitats and created some of our own!  Campers selected an animal, and using what they learned is necessary for all habitats, created a very special home for their animals.  We learned how to tell where in the world an animal lives just by looking at it and lastly learned about specific habitats for animals living in Michigan.

Learning where animals live.
We dove deep into the sea on Tuesday to learn about creatures that swim.  Campers learned about the animals that live at different depths of the ocean by playing 3D bingo and making a pull-through craft.  Red and Green groups explored how whales communicate with balloons; make sure to ask them about it!  Campers also learned that some deep sea animals don't even have to move to get their food!  Lastly, we got a bit messy and painted wooden sharks.  We've got some very colorful new species!
Deep Sea Bingo

A shark fit for the sea.

It was a beautiful day for a hike!
On Wednesday we hiked through the Arb on a mission to find as many animal homes as possible.  We found plenty of webs, nests, and holes for critters to live and even had a deer visit us for a brief moment!  Ask your camper what kinds of animal homes they saw the most of.

It looks like they've found something noteworthy!

Thursday was all about birds.  We started out our day with some very special visitors from the Leslie Science and Nature Center!  Campers learned about three very special birds and have an experiment to show their friends and family that explain why owls' wings are so quiet.  We learned about what different birds eat based on the size and shape of their beaks and then discovered the trials of being a migratory bird.  Ask your camper if he or she made it all the way to the nesting site!

Ask your camper what's going on in this picture!

The Bald Eagle liked to show off.
There's a toucan on the loose!
We finished off the week with endangered species and adaptations.  We learned why certain animals are endangered and what threats they face.
Our Skype with Buffalo Bill.

Learning about endangered species.

Endangered species board game!

Everyone came up with their own animal!

Thanks for spending the week with us here at Camp Explorations!  We had a great time and we hope you did too!

Fun with Physics

This week, morning camp was "Fun with Physics"!

On Monday, campers learned the basics of physics.  Physics is a complex science that applies combines math and the physical forces of the universe. We discovered the science behind the "artificial gravity" on the international space station with some model space stations of our own.  You just have to make sure it keeps spinning (which isn't a problem in the friction-less, vacuum of space.
Making miniature space stations!

Campers also learned about inertia which is a property of all matter, by applying measured force to matchbox cars and observing how far they travel.  Do we know who's first law of physics inertia falls under?  

Inertia challenge, a raceway to physics

Campers also took a look at the force of friction with our salt and marble mystery.  Did you know that if you shake your cereal before you open it, your cereal prize will magically appear at the top?  You guessed it, that's because of relative friction.  The larger toy prize has less surface area for friction to act upon (relatively) so it makes it's way to the top, less impeded than the smaller cereal piece or, in our case, salt.

The theme for Tuesday was the physics of flight.  Campers learned about drag, lift, force, and thrust and all the important ways planes are built to get them off the ground.  We got to make our own paper airplanes and experiment with their design.  The fastest planes might not fly the farthest and vice versa.  Trick planes have a unique shape compared to distance planes.  When it comes to flight shape is everything and making trade offs in design is important part of the physics of engineering.

Making paper airplanes!

In order to better understand flight, we did a few experiments to learn about air pressure.  When you blow over a sheet of paper or between two hanging balloons, the paper rises and the balloons come together.  Why?  Well, we pushed all the air out of those spaces and the paper and balloons are pulled in to fill the new gap.  This same principle is why the shape of a plane's wing is so important.  We also showed how forcing air (or in our experiment, water) through a smaller space will cause it to move more quickly.  This principle is found everywhere from engineering to musical instruments!

Squeezing the stream causes it to increase is speed

Wednesday's camp was all about sound!  Campers made their own musical instruments including a "sound sandwich" and a soda straw "flute".
Sound sandwich

Tuning fork ripples
Did you know sound is made from vibrations?  Campers got a chance to actually see sound waves.  When sound waves travel through the air, they're invisible.  But what about water?  By placing vibrating tuning forks into water we can actually see sound waves as ripples!

Thursday, we learned about light and optics.  Campers learned about different words in physics to describe how objects and light interact including transparent, translucent, opaque, reflect, refract, and absorb.  We went on a museum wide scavenger hunt to try see some of these interactions for ourselves.  Campers also had the opportunity to see a cow eye dissection up close.

Cow eyes are very similar to human eyes so we learned a lot about our own eyes and how we see.  Spinning color wheels helped us learn about how white light is made up of an entire rainbow of colors.  We learned about refraction and reflection by creating our own controlled environment on which we could shine white or colorful light through a glass of water.  Water causes light to travel more slowly, refracting it and causing hings submerged to appeared distorted.

Check out our color wheels!
Refraction in action

That's a lot of potential energy
Our last day of camp was Friday and campers focused their energy on, well, energy.  We started off learning about the potential and kinetic energy with our many energy based toys,  Then campers got a chance to build their own roller coaster.  We learned that the amount of potential energy stored in an our marble car depends on where you put it on the track.  Where should you put your marble if your track has a lot of loops (and a lot of gravity to fight)?  Campers made their own battery out of objects they probably have in their house.  Using a few nails, copper wire, and a dash of vinegar, we were able to generate enough energy to light up an LED bulb.  This helped us learn about circuits.  We made a human circuit with our energy stick, but you have to make sure you keep your circuit closed!

Playing with groan tubes!