Friday, August 15, 2014

Emerging Engineers

Engineering Design Process
It was our last week of camp this week and the morning was all about engineering!  On Monday, we were introduced to what engineers do and the engineering design process.  A big part of engineering is helping solve problems and creating those solutions. Campers were also given a Top Secret mission to develop a parachute delivery system to deploy an antenna to the ground.  They had to construct a parachute with the longest "hangtime" and best accuracy to the target.  Campers tested their designs by dropping them from the Rotunda balcony in the Museum.  Campers also built their own Kinetic Sculptures that had at least 2 parts that move in the wind. Engineers help make sure sculptures withstand strong winds. 

Tuesday was all about mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineers design things you would use in your everyday life, like the spoon you used a breakfast, the cap on your toothpaste or the chair you sat in.  Campers built their own catapult and launched marshmallows from it. They also designed and built their own small-scale model roller coasters using marbles as the cars on the track.  They had to think about what would make a fun roller coaster, but still safe at the same time.  Mechanical engineers also design vehicles. So campers built K'NEX cars and raced them down a ramp.  We measured how far the cars went and their speed.
One of the K'NEX cars

Wednesday was all about civil engineering. Civil engineers design and build bridges, roads or buildings.  They work to improve travel and help make structures that functional and cost-effective, as well as, nice-looking. First, we looked at columns and how engineers have to design a column that are very strong to keep buildings safe.  We looked at cardboard columns (toilet paper tubes) with different materials to see what happened.  One column was empty, one was filled with marbles (big particles) and one was filled with sand (small particles). Ask your camper what happened when the counselor stood on each one! We then built skyscrapers using straws and tape and anchored them into gelatin. Once we built our structures as tall as we could, we tested the structures for earthquakes and high winds. Campers also designed and built bridges and then tested them to see how much weight (pennies) it could hold.  

Working hard on their bridges

Working on their rockets
On Thursday, we learned about aerospace engineers and they work on designing and building aircrafts and space vehicles.  We talked about how there is no gravity in space and how would astronauts stay in shape.  Campers then drew their designs of an exercise machine for an astronaut in space.  We learned how space vehicles would transport delicate and sensitive equipment over long distances.  Campers had to design their own vessel for some delicate cargo (an egg).  We then dropped their vessels from a ladder to see how their designs worked out.  The two older groups eggs all survived.  So then they threw them as far as we could and they still survived! Last, we designed and built our own rockets.  We then launched them all together outside for the end of camp.  We had some great designs and even a confetti rocket that launched confetti everywhere.  It was a great end to camp!  

3, 2, 1, egg drop!

Setting off the rockets!

On Friday, we learned about some of the great engineering feats of the world.  We looked at the 7 Wonders of the World and then looked at the 7 Industrial Wonders of the World.  Campers then created their own modern day wonder.  Lastly we were visited by Washtenaw Engineering for Kids who did a Junior Robotics class.  The 2 younger groups built a Lego alligator and lion and programmed it to do different things. The alligator would close its mouth and the lion would lie down.  The 2 older groups built Lego robots and battled them in a Sumobot competition. It was a great end to an exciting fun-filled week.

A fierce alligator!

Who will win?

Science Extravaganza

A climbing spider!
We've finished our last week of camp here at Camp Explorations!  It's been bittersweet, but we had a great time!  On Monday, our topic was zoology.  Campers learned about the differences between insects and arachnids, played an insect drawing game, and made their own climbing spiders!  We learned more about some amazing animal feats.  Ask your camper about some special animal skills!

Who will finish their insect first?

Learning about the parts of a volcano
On Tuesday we learned about geology and had a special presentation by CoreKids from Western Michigan University.  They taught us all about volcanoes and campers got to experiment with different types of volcanoes.  To finish off the day, we made "mineral" mosaics to bring home.

Waiting for it to erupt!
Wednesday was all about astronomy.  Campers learned all about our solar system and how rotation and revolution affects what constellations we see in the night sky.  They made their own astronaut helmets to help them read secret messages (see if you can try to see what they say!).  Finally, we blasted off into space and through a wormhole in a planetarium show!

Decoding the secret messages
Our astronauts

On Thursday, we took a walk to Nichols Arboretum where we played a Camp Explorations favorite, Oh Deer!  Campers learned how the population of deer changes when resources are plentiful or scarce and the effects of predators. We also pulled out the parachute to play a quick windstorm game!

Playing Oh Deer!

One, two, three...
Testing out Spinosaurus teeth!

On the final day of camp for the year, we learned all about dinosaurs.  Campers made their own sponge fossils (make sure to take them out to dry!), learned about different types of dinosaur teeth, and sorted through some famous excavation puzzles.  To finish the week off, they learned a bit about different animals from the Mesozoic era and made their own timelines.  

Making a Mesozoic era timeline

We've had such a great summer and loved meeting all of the campers!  We hope to see you are the Museum soon!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Emerging Engineers Questions

We're excited to learn about engineering this week!  You can check this blog to follow camp events, both at the museum and beyond.  Please be sure to check again on Friday for some photos from the week!

Here are some suggested questions to ask your camper this week:

On Monday, we will be learning about what engineering is.

Ask me about the Engineering Design Process.
Ask me about the Parachute I made.  What was my "hangtime" and how close did I get to the target?

On Tuesday, we will be learning about mechanical engineering.

Ask me about the catapult I made and if I hit the target.
Ask me about the K'NEX cars we built and the raced.
Ask me about the roller coasters we designed. 

On Wednesday, we will be learning about civil engineering.

Ask me about sky scraper we built and if it withstood an earthquake.
Ask me about the bridges we built and how much weight it could hold. 

On Thursday, we will be learning about aerospace engineering.

Ask me about the explorations vehicles we designed and if our cargo (an egg) survived its journey.
Ask me about the rockets we designed and launched.

On Friday, we will be learning about robotics and some of the 7 Wonders of the World

Ask me about the Junior Robotics program by Washtenaw Engineering for Kids.
Ask me about the modern day wonder I designed and built.

Science Extravaganza Questions

We're excited to learn about science this week!  You can check this blog to follow camp events, both at the museum and beyond.  Please be sure to check again on Friday for some photos from the week!

Here are some suggested questions to ask your camper this week:

On Monday, we will be learning about zoology.

Ask me about our animal Olympics!
Ask me about the differences between insects and arachnids!

On Tuesday, we will be learning about geology.

Ask me about the CoreKids presentation on Natural Hazards!
Ask me about my mineral mosaic!

On Wednesday, we will be learning about astronomy.

Ask me about the planetarium show!
Ask me how we modeled the night sky!

On Thursday, we will be walking to Nichols Arboretum.  Please have your child wear his/her blue camp shirt and comfortable walking shoes and bring a water bottle, sun screen, and bug spray.

Ask me about our trip to the Arb!

On Friday, we will be learning about paleontology.

Ask me how fossils are formed!
Ask me about the different types of teeth dinosaurs had!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Amazing Animals 2

A beautiful firefly!

It has been another great week at camp!  On Monday, we learned all about insects.  Campers caught (and released!) different insects around the museum for observation and even made their own lightning bugs!


Tuesday was all about reptiles and amphibians.  Campers learned the differences between the two groups through several activities.  Ask your camper to explain to you!  In addition, we learned about some specific snakes, including Sanajeh, a dinosaur-eating snake.  Campers then made their own rattle snakes, shakers and all!

Learning about the differences between reptiles and amphibians

Red group listening intently

A rattlesnake, ahhhh!!!!

We walked to Nichols Arboretum on Wednesday to learn about different animals that can be found there.  We were lucky enough to see 6 deer and 2 fox in addition to many other animals!  
Spotting several deer and foxes!

A beautiful doe and fawn... And a thumb, oops!

Testing out the bug goggles

On Thursday, we focused on biodiversity and adaptations.  Campers learned about various adaptations and even tried some out!  We learned about some crazy sounding animals and came up with new, colorful species that could some day be real.

A colorful creature!

Learning about wings!

Friday's theme was desert animals.  We learned how animals adapt to live in the desert and had a desert animal relay race!  Campers made their own stand-up giraffes.  Ask them about giraffe spit!  
Walking like a verrrrryyyy long camel!

Working hard on his giraffe

We're sad to see the week end!  We hope to see you around the Museum!

Ecology in Your Backyard 2

Drawing our own "people" cookies
We began our second week of Ecology in Your Backyard by learning all about the importance of trees.  In addition to providing us with the oxygen we breath, trees are the source of many everyday objects we may not realize including rubber bands, rayon fabric, and dyes.  We looked at dozens of objects and tried to discern their origin.  After some deliberation and debate it turns out each object we had set out had a
come from a tree!  Now, that's something worth protecting.  Campers also got an up close look at a tree's cross section, also called a "tree cookie".  They drew pictures of their own cross sections, labeling important life events on each ring!  We were able to play "Every Tree for Itself", a game that illustrated the importance of all the different resources trees need to survive, as well.  We wrapped up our first day by checking out all the different micro-habitats in a single tree.  We observed the animals and other organism living from the tops of the highest branches to the roots and surrounding ground.  It was a fun way to learn that people aren't the only things that depend on trees!

Investigating trees as habitats

Our recycling relay
On Tuesday, we learned about renewable and non-renewable resources.  Campers started their day with a recycling relay!  Teams raced against one another to determine if each item in heir pile was recyclable, reusable, or just trash.  The more items you could justify as being reusable, the more points for your team (and Earth)!  Then, we took a peak at packaging by looking at different kinds ways goods are contained.  We brainstormed ideas on how not to waste resources with our packaging including how to make it more efficient and eco-friendly.  We even designed some packaging of our own.  Did you know that there are many  different resources used to create our goods and power.  Campers took a tour around the museum to try and investigate and determine which resources were renewable or not and how we can incorporate more renewable resources into our every day lives!

Experimenting with chemical run off
Learning watershed terminology
On Wednesday, campers focused their attention on the Great Lakes!  Did you know that between the five Great Lakes and Michigan's more than 11,000 inland lakes, we have more freshwater coastline than any other state! We worked together to make a large mural of all the different parts of a Great Lakes watershed, including the animals, plants, people, businesses, and cities that depend on them.  Campers also played a game that exhibited the harm that invaders to our local aquatic ecosystem can do called "Don't Stop for Hitchhikers!".  We even got to make a model of a real watershed using dyed water and colored sugars to represent various chemical and organic compounds prone to run off.  We used a large plastic sheet to create hills and valleys, then added water to demonstrate how water flows down into streams and tributaries that flow together to form one large lake.  Campers learned water shed terminology as well as the dangers of chemical run off.

Designing each piece of the watershed

On Thursday, Camp Explorations took a walk in the woods!  Campers took a field trip to Nichol's Arboretum where we played "The Carbon Dioxide Game".  A new take on tag, our "carbon dioxide molecules" tried to catch our "sunbeams" and keep them trapped in Earth's atmosphere.  We drew cards to determine what aspects of human behavior help or hurt our cause (driving puts CO2 into the air, planting trees pulls CO2 out of the atmosphere, etc).  We had a blast running around the meadow and building fairy houses as well!
Exploring the Arb

Carbon Dioxide game!
Building our eco-friendly fairy house

On Friday, we wrapped up our ecology session by focusing on environmental stewardship. Environmental stewardship is defined as the "responsible use and protection of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices". We played a game called "Virtual Water" to illustrate why water is so important to human interests and conserving resources is so vital. Campers were all assigned roles within a community and had to tug at a string connected to a central water. All the other campers could feel the pull of each other, a great way to show how the overuse or conservation of water affects everyone. We also took time to design our own Great Lakes community. We designed businesses, homes, and other aspects of a community and then carefully planned their positions on our mural in order to best utilize the available space and resources while still leaving enough area for our wetland friends and their habitats. Finally, we learned about oil spills! Oil spills are bad for our environment and often occur over large areas of water. Campers tried to clean up a mini oil spill, testing various absorbent materials to try to soak up and contain the oil. After experimenting with different substances they worked together to create the most efficient procedure for saving the ecosystem in the event of a spill.
Adding our community buildings

Virtual water

Aftermath of cleaning up the oil spill

Writing out our procedure