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

This week in the morning sessions, campers will become paleontologists and archaeologists and learn what these scientists do in real life!  Here are some questions you can ask your camper to engage them at home.

On Tuesday, ask me about...
  • What artifacts I found in our Midden dig site!  What tools did I use?
  • The difference between archaeology and paleontology.
On Wednesday, ask me about...
  • Which dinosaurs I saw in the Museum today!  What fossils did I get to see?
  • My Tyrannosaurus Rex hat that I can wear.
  • What I learned about dinosaur footprints
On Thursday, ask me about...
  • The planetarium show I saw today.
  • What message I wrote using Hieroglyphics.
  • How many books my Ancient Greek building could hold up
On Friday, ask me about...
  • Our dinosaur dig site.  What did I find?
  • How animals become fossils. What game did I play to show me this?

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!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Amazing Animals Questions

We're learning all about animals and their amazing feats this week in the afternoon session of Camp Explorations!  Here are some questions you can ask your campers this week to keep them engaged even after they've left camp.

On Monday we will learn about habitats.  Ask me about...
  • The habitat I created for my animal
  • The four essentials for every habitat
  • Where different animals live throughout the world
On Tuesday we will learn about sea creatures.  Ask me about...
  • The different levels of the ocean and the animals that live in them.
  • Whale communication (Red and Orange groups)
  • How non-moving deep sea creatures eat (Green group)
  • The shark that I painted
On Wednesday we will go to the Arb.  Make sure to bring a water bottle, camp shirt, good walking shoes, sun screen and bug spray.  Ask me about...
  • Our trip to the Arb
  • The game we played there
On Thursday we will learn about birds.  Ask me about...
  • The birds we saw from the Leslie Science and Nature Center
  • The different types of bird beaks
  • The troubles birds face during migration
On Friday we will be learning about endangered species.  Ask me about...
  • The species I designed
  • Different threats to endangered species
  • Our Skype lesson with the Buffalo Bill Center

Fun with Physics Questions

This week, Camp Explorations' morning session is all about physics!  Here are some questions you can ask your camper to keep them engaged with the topic even after they head home.

On Monday, ask me about...

  • How we created artificial gravity, and how it works on the international space station.
  • Relative friction from our salt and marble mystery test tube.
  • Newton's First Law and our "Inertia Challenge"
On Tuesday, ask me about...
  • How high I can fly (just not for very long)
  • How a plane's wing works.
  • The paper airplane I made
On Wednesday, ask me about...
  • My sound sandwich and straw flute!
  • How sound is made.
  • When we can see sound waves (not in the air, but what about water?)
On Thursday, ask me about...
  • Our cow eye dissection and how similar cows' eyes are to ours.
  • My spinning color wheel and what happens when it spins really fast!
  • The difference between opaque, transparent, and translucent (maybe ask for some examples)
On Friday, ask me about...
  • Our "Human Circuit" and why a circuit needs to be a complete circle.
  • Our roller coaster, and the difference between potential and kinetic energy.
  • Our "ice-tray battery" and how you can make a battery at home.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Astronomy Adventures

It's been an exciting and fun first week here at Camp Explorations!  This week we learned all about space, from stars and our solar system to the Moon and space explorations.

Creating a "star"

On Monday we learned all about stars.  Campers acted out the life cycle of a star with a parachute, created a supernova, and made a "sunion" to show the layers of stars.  Although it was a bit rainy, we also made sun dials.  Make sure to try them out on a sunny day to read the time!

Red group looking at pictures of stars in different parts of their life cycles

The solar system is stunning!
On Tuesday we blasted off into space to learn about our solar system.  Campers got a special planetarium show from one of our very own counselors to learn about each of the planets in our solar system.  The yellow and green groups took a short walk over to the Diag to create a human orrery while the red and orange groups went on a mission into space to travel to all of the planets.  Campers also made their own mobiles to decorate their homes!

Showing off a beautiful solar system mobile
She's got the whole Mars in her hands.

Wednesday's theme was Earth's moon.  We explored the phases of the moon using some hands-on activities, a fun version of "Yahtzee!" and a moon phase journal to bring home.  Make sure to fill it out throughout the next month to see the whole cycle!
Learning about the moon phases

Making their constellation viewers

We learned all about constellations on Thursday.  Campers went into the planetarium once again for a show all about the stars and constellations that we can see if we were to go outside tonight.  They also made constellation viewers of some of the most famous Northern hemisphere constellations and learned the legends behind them.  Lastly, they used their imaginations to create their own constellations.

Working in space
Our final day was all about space exploration.  We tested our astronaut skills and tried out what it would be like to work outer space and even made space shuttle gliders.  Green and yellow groups also learned about the Drake equation, which scientists use to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations there are in the Milky Way galaxy.  Ask your camper what number they came up with!

Diligently working on their space shuttle gliders
We had a great time and we hope you did too!  Thanks for spending the week with us and learning about space!

Archaeology Quest

It's the first day of camp! Today we learned the basics of archaeology.  What is it, who does it, and how can we become archaeologists ourselves?  After the first week meet and greet we dove into our activities.

Asking our friends to help hypothesize.
Can you guess what the object might be?

Looking at our objects on the projector.
We learned about how archaeologists use context clues to determine what an object is and how it might of been used.

We honed our skills of perception while doing our Bag 'O Artifacts activity.  Archaeologists have to be very observant and be logic when looking at unknown artifacts.

Our Filling in the Picture activity helped us learn about how dig sites are designed and explored.  We got to solve a few picture mysteries ourselves.

Tuesday, 2 of our groups (Blue and Green) went on a field trip to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology to learn about Roman soldiers.  We had a lots of fun with our tour guides and were able to see real Roman armor, make our own mosaic, and visit the exhibits.  We even got to play the same games the soldiers played with knuckle bones as dice!

Red and Yellow group got to stay at the Natural History Museum to learn about ancient Egypt.  Campers learned about ancient Egyptian fashion and made their own Egyptian collars.  We also learned about how the ancient Egyptians wrote down their history.  Did you know they used hieroglyphs for their alphabet? We deciphered some hieroglyphic messages and wrote some of our own!

Red and Yellow group also took a virtual tour of a Egyptian temple and learned about mummification.  There's a lot that goes into making a mummy!  We even got to make our own virtual mummy based on what we learned!

On Wednesday, Camp Explorations learned about ancient Greece and the Olympics.  Did you know the original Olympic athletes were awarded wreaths to be worn on their heads, not medals?  Our campers followed the more modern tradition and designed their own medals.
We learned about Greek gods and goddesses and played a matching card game to help us remember them all (Greece had quite a few).

After we learned about Greece we held our own Olympics.  We held our soda straw javelin event, our long jump competition, and our hopping foot race where all our campers competed as excellent sports.  Luckily, each one had a medal to prove it.

On Thursday, Red and Yellow group got their chance to go to the Kelsey and learn about Rome and their soldiers.  They did many of the same activities as Blue and Green group did on Tuesday.

Our Blue and Green groups also got their chance to study Egypt.  We took a virtual tour of the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx via Google Earth.
Campers also made their own Egyptian relief sculpture by carving a chosen Egyptian symbol in balsa foam.  These sculptures were often carved out of or into he rocks and walls of ancient Egypt.  

We also played Mehen, a popular game in ancient Egypt somewhat similar to backgammon. Blue and Green group also took a trip to the planetarium to enjoy our Stars of Pharaohs show that relates ancient Egyptian culture and architecture to astronomy.
Our last day of camp was an overview of ancient culture.  We followed a story of a prehistoric man on a mastodon hunt and put ourselves in his shoes. What items would you take with you?  What kind of drawings and items might you make for fun? Campers also learned about some ancient mysteries including investigating items from Catalhoyuk (a site in Turkey) and the Incas.
Cultures tend to put images of important people or sites on their money.  We made our own ancient currency by designing our own coin with images that were important to our campers.
Finally, we used all of our knowledge to remember and draw ancient artifacts from all of the cultures we discussed.  We played a matching game and had all of our friends try and place our artifacts with the correct cultures!