Friday, August 19, 2016

Best of Camp Explorations

It is fitting that we have finished out our summer of camp with Best of Camp Explorations, a week filled with some of the most popular activities at Camp Explorations! Here is a glimpse of what we did this week!

On Monday, we learned about zoology. We learned about bugs and insects, and adventured around the Museum to find some interesting bugs with our bug catchers. Some campers drew pictures of their bugs in their science journals, and some even got to identify their bugs using insect and nature field guides! We played a game called Oh Deer! that is a play-off of tag. Campers are separated into two groups: deer and things that deer need (i.e. water, food, shelter.) The deer have to tag the water, food and shelter and try to get everything they need to survive! We also painted some models of animals. Green and Red groups painted foam birds, while Yellow and Purple groups painted wooden snakes! Finally, some groups made Living or Non-Living cootie catchers to help us think about what sorts of natural things are living or not.

A camper paints their wooden snake
Campers paint their birds
A camper looks for bugs in the Butterfly Garden
Campers catch and observe bugs
in the Butterfly Garden

Campers play Oh Deer!

On Tuesday, we focused on physical science. We designed and built rockets using 2-Liter plastic bottles and lots of art supplies! Campers got creative using paper towel tubes, aluminum foil, and other materials to decorate their rockets. Some teams went for more aerodynamic models, while some groups made true art masterpieces. We also made bouncy balls using special crystals that we poured into a spherical mold, held under water for 3 minutes, and then let dry. Finally, we played around with snap circuits! Campers got to choose from over 40 different kinds of circuits- some that powered a light bulb, some that powered a fan, and some that even turned on a speaker!
Campers put together a snap circuit
Campers wait for the bouncy balls to soak

Campers show off their rocket

Campers make their rocket

On Wednesday, we took a field trip to the Arboretum! Despite an iffy weather forecast, we only felt a few sprinkles and otherwise had beautiful sunny weather. We made it back to the Museum for popsicles just before it began to rain. At the Arboretum, we spent a lot of our time exploring the Fairy Garden. Campers seemed to really enjoy building new fairy homes using natural materials and some unnatural materials that were given to the garden by other people. We also played a fun insect relay race game, where campers picked from different insects and then raced each other by moving as that insect would. They decided the honey bees are the fastest. We also played some parachute games!

Campers look at things in the Fairy Garden
Campers play parachute games
A camper makes something in the Fairy Garden
Campers show off their Fairy Garden home
A camper completed everything on the
scavenger hunt!
Campers play Insect Relay Race:
honey bees vs. beetles

On Thursday, we took a trip into space and learned about astronomy! We made space helmets using paper bags and red cellophane, and then used our colorful helmets to decode different messages and pictures. We had a blast launching the rockets that we made on Tuesday. We discovered that the rockets that had the least decorations went the highest, as they had the least resistance. To end the day, we saw a Star Talk planetarium show and learned all about the planets, stars and space!

Campers in their space helmets!
This camper really wishes it was Friday!

Campers color in the color analyzers that they
decoded using their space helmets
Campers watch the rocket launch

On Friday, we ended our week with paleontology day. We used popsicle sticks and toothbrushes to excavate ice age animals that were buried in a plaster mixture.  They were difficult to dig out, but we got a sense of just how challenging it can be to do a paleontology dig! Then we made ice age habitat dioramas for our excavated animals. We made amber fossil slime by mixing borax and water together, and then combining that with clear glue and orange food coloring. It made a gooey slime that looks like amber, and we put small plastic ants in it to represent how bugs can get fossilized in amber. Finally, some groups got a Prehistoric Life Tour in the Hall of Evolution, and got to see some real skeletons of their ice age animals- Woolly Mammoth, Mastodon and Smilodon. We even had the excitement of two fire drills in the afternoon. Unfortunately this meant that some groups had to cut activities short or even miss out on an activity, but we still had lots of time for fun paleontology adventures.

A camper makes a diorama for her
ice age animal
Campers prepare ingredients for the
amber fossil slime
A camper shows off her amber fossil slime
A camper excavates his ice age animal
Campers make their amber fossil slime
Campers excavate their ice age animals

It is hard to believe that this ends our summer of camp! Thank you all for spending some of your summer with us- we had a terrific summer of science exploration with your campers! We hope to see some of you again next summer, and wish you all a great rest of summer vacation.

Outdoor Explorers

On Monday, the campers learned some outdoor survival skills, such as how to build a shelter, and what kinds of knots they should tie depending on what they need.  Using just dowels, rubber bands, and plastic sheets, the campers were able to assemble their very own shelters. Some of them were even able to fit their entire group under a roof!  Then the campers practiced making a variety of knots, all with different uses. Need to tie down a tent? Try a Taut-Line Hitch knot. Need to hang a hammock? Try a Clove Hitch knot! In all, the campers practiced making about 10 different knots!  After all that knot tying, the campers made paracord bracelets by weaving together paracord rated at 550lbs.  **Please note, campers should not use this paracord for climbing**
A Camper works on his paracord bracelet
Campers take shelter

On Tuesday, the campers learned how to use a compasses to the figure out the direction they are heading.  Then the campers made their own compasses, which we used later in the week at the Arb!  They campers also learned how to use natural materials, such as gravel, coarse and fine sand, and charcoal to purify dirty water.  To finish off their day, the campers got to use the Museum's own 12 foot long stream table to experience the forces of water.  They watched as the water carved natural looking stream, and learned how polluted ground water can move underground towards rivers.

Campers at the stream table!
Campers watch as their filters clean the dirty water!

Campers play a card matching game in a small group
On Wednesday, it was all about the plants and animals of the forests.  The campers learned about some telltale signs for poisonous plants, and also about some edible plants that they can find here in Michigan!  We also talked to the campers, and explained that even edible plants can be unhealthy if they were grown in contaminated soil, and so they should never eat anything they find in the wild.  To end the morning, the campers walked over to the Diag, where they sketched pictures of the plants and animals they saw.  Some campers found an adult cicada! Then to end the day, the campers played a matching game, where they had to match animal tracks with the correct animal!

An adult cicada!
Campers observe and draw a cicada ----->

Thursday was archery day, and the campers fired off real arrows with real bows in a program lead by Our Global Kids.  Instructed by professional archers, the campers learned how to correctly hold and fire arrows!  They practiced archery right outside the museum, and fired arrows at targets about 10 feet away. A few campers even got a bulls-eye!  After learning about archery, the campers fired plastic arrows dipped in chalk paint to make a picture on our side walk.  To cool off a bit, the campers read wilderness survival skill knowledge cards in an air conditioned room. Finally, to end the day, the campers looked at various types of maps, and map projections, and then tried to make their own maps of the Museum's butterfly garden.

Ready? Aim. Fire!

On Friday, we took our trip to the Arb!  The campers got to check out critters down by the river.  We even found some albino millipedes!  The campers used their compasses to help them navigate the Arb, and learned that the university's north campus really is in the North! After snack by the river, the campers ventured towards the main valley of the Arb, where we played a fun game called bases!  While a counselor counted to various numbers with their eyes closed, the campers tried to tag a base, and hide again before the counselor opened their eyes. On our way to the valley, one of the counselors showed the campers a flowering raspberry bush.  After playing a few rounds of bases, it was time to head back to camp for frozen Popsicle treat!

Albino Millipedes were abundant, and an instant hit with the campers
A flowering raspberry bush in the Arb!

Science Explorers

This week of Science Explorers we have been learning about all different kinds of science.  On Monday we learned all about animals.  We made habitat dioramas using a variety of craft materials for a snake or a lizard.  We talked about how a habitat is an animals home and what that animal might need in their habitat. We then had different pictures of animal habitats and put various animals in their correct habitat.

We learned that there are different kinds of animals and sorted them into those groups.  There was an insect, fish, reptile, bird and mammal group.  We talked about the differences and then sorted plastic animals into their correct group.

On Tuesday, we were scientists and did all sorts of experiments.  We read the book Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle and learned about all the ingredients that go into making pancakes.  We then made our own "chocolate chip cookies" by putting all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing them together and then they change to what we know as chocolate chip cookies!  We talked about how a mixing some ingredients like flour and sugar is a physical change and when they are mixed they stay the same.  We then talked about a chemical change is when we mix all the ingredients together and then bake it to make chocolate chip cookies.

Mixing the ingredients
Adding ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies
What other ingredients do we need?

We made some puffy paint using foaming shaving cream, glue and food coloring. Campers then painted their own pictures.

Katherine showing us how to use the pipettes
We experimented by dropping colored vinegar onto baking soda to see the reaction and the different colors that were made just by dropping red, yellow and blue.

Look at the reactions!

When we were outside at snack we did another experiment, called Elephant's Toothpaste, because it comes out all foaming like toothpaste and it's big enough to be used on elephant's teeth! We got to touch the foam and feel how warm it was after the experiment.  We learned that is it warm because of the chemical reaction happening.
Adding the yeast mixture 

Waiting for it!

On Wednesday, we learned about space and became astronauts!  We read the Astronaut Handbook by Meghan McCarthy to learn what it takes to become an astronaut.  We then made and decorated our own astronaut helmets.

We went to the planetarium where we learned about stars and planets.  Then at 11:30 we launched our rockets.  We used Alka-Seltzer and "Rocket Fuel" (water) to launch our rockets.  All you need to do is put one-fourth to one-third tablet in the canister and add some rocket fuel.  Then give it a little shake, set it down and wait for it to launch!               

A beautiful blue gemstone
On Thursday, we learned about rocks.  We went on a rock hunt around the Museum and then looked at all kinds of rocks.  We sorted them into groups and used magnifying glasses to look closely at them. We made our own gemstones to take home and then looked at fossils in the Museum exhibits. We also made some mosaics using mineral pieces.
Sorting rocks
An emerald!
We found the canoe and just had to get in!
Look at that pretty rock!

"I found something!"
On Friday, we learned about paleontologists and dinosaurs.  We went on a dig and found lots of different fossils.  We got to take home a cast of a Deinonychus claw.  We made Triceratops hats and went to look at the different dinosaurs in the Museum exhibits.

We found Deinonychus claws. 
On a dinosaur tour
Touching a real mastodon tooth
A coprolite...dinosaur poop!

Decorating the Triceratops mask

We had a great week and a great summer!  Hope to see you next summer! Thank you!