Friday, June 27, 2014

Phenomenal Physics 2

Today was our first day of focusing on physics at Camp Exploration.  We learned about gravity and friction by making mini zip lines in the morning.  We also performed some cool experiments where we observed about gravity and its relation to wind resistance. After introductory activities, we traveled to the Dennison building on campus where U of M staff gave a truly phenomenal physics demo that included cannons, Tesla Coils, and a closer look at sound and light!  It was a great kickoff to what's sure to be an even better week.
Example Tesla coil

Ping Pong ball air cannon!

On Tuesday, we focused our energy on sound.  Did you know sound is made from vibrations and travels in waves?  We found out about these vibrations from our tuning fork activity.  We also learned how sound can travel by making our own cup and string telephones.  Our campers got to observe how vibration creates sound up close when they created their very own "bee hummer", a homemade noise maker that imitates the sound of swarming bees.  We had tons of fun making our own kinds of sounds with our sound charades game, as well.

Learning about sound vibrations by seeing how tuning forks displace water.

String telephone!

Trying out a bee hummer!

Learning about SUPER absorbent polymers!
Wednesday we learned all about polymers.  Polymers are large molecules made up of chains of many smaller molecules called "monomers".  These polymers, natural and synthetic, are all around us and used by us every single day.  We started off our day by making our own polymer chain models with pop beads and paper dolls. We learned that polymers have strength in numbers and the greater number of tangled chains we added, the more difficult they became to tear.  Then, we conducted some experiments of our own on everyday polymers, testing them for strength, stretch, water resistance, and more.  Did you know you can make a kind of plastic at home with things from your kitchen? Using vinegar, we altered the milk's proteins to make our own polymers.  We even made it outside to test different conditions that affect polymers by freezing tennis balls and studying how temperature affects their bouncy abilities.  Don't forget our diaper experiment!  We used the super absorbent polymers found in diapers to make a glass of water unable to be poured: a fun trick and an even cooler experiment!

Frozen versus room temperature. Which ball do you think will bounce better?
Plastic milk!

Thursday, we had a camp field trip to the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum where we participated in a lab on electricity and circuits.  Our campers had a blast learning about series and parallel circuits, and even made a few circuits of their own design.  Did you know is made up of a load, a power source, and a control device all connected by a conductor?  Our campers sure do!

Having fun with circuits

Teaming up!

Friday was our last day of Phenomenal Physics camp, but this ending was more sweet than bitter as we spent our morning studying Candy Science!  Ever wonder why M&Ms don't melt in your hand?  We learned about their non-water soluble coating by making our own "magic", floating "M"s.  We also learned about how layered candy is made by observing the dyes in Gobstopper candies.  The dyes won't run together, which we were able to demonstrate ourselves.  Our campers also learned a lot about light and rainbows today by making a rainbow in a test tube with jelly crystals.  We talked about the different wavelengths of light and how the three primary color crystal colors, appear to blend into a whole rainbow. We even made our very own "rainbow scopes", to see the whole spectrum of light from any source of white light.

Floating "M"s

Gobstopper's after a few seconds!
Making our rainbow scopes! 
Rainbow test tubes!

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