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?

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