Friday, June 24, 2016

Astronomy Adventures

We had a great first week of Camp Explorations! Despite some hot days early in the week, we stayed cool with activities that were out of this world!

Campers play "Travel Through the Solar System"
Campers learn about the planets
using an inflatable solar system


Campers work on their Solar system on a String craft
On Monday, we learned all about planets and our solar system. With the help of some inflatable planets, we learned what each planet looks like, what kind of atmosphere and environment they have, and where they are in our solar system. We did a "Solar System on a String" craft where we answered important questions about each planet and then put them in their correct orbital order. We played a game called "Tour the Planets" in which we drew our solar system and then drew cards to determine which planet we should visit and color in. Finally, we played a "Travel through the Solar System" board game to learn more about the planets and their order from the sun.

On Tuesday, we spent the afternoon learning about stars. We saw a planetarium show called "Cowboy Astronomer" where we learned about constellations and how they got their names. We made constellations out of rubber bands on geo-boards, and even designed some of our own constellations! We made beautiful constellation watercolor paintings to illustrate our favorite constellations. We drew the constellations with white crayons and then painted over them with watercolor paints. We also practiced estimating the number of stars in the sky using a star field. This involved dropping a small sampling window of paper on our star field, counting the number of stars in the sampling window and then using multiplication to estimate how many stars were in the entire star field.

Campers show of the "Cat Constellation"
they invented on their geo-board
A camper works on their beautiful Watercolor Constellation

On Wednesday, we talked about how people explore space, and what other kinds of environments and materials exist in space. We made straw rockets that use two drinking straws as their launch pad. We had fun launching them outside! We also worked in groups to make space rovers that had to fulfill missions on different moons and planets. Campers learned about the surface and sunlight levels of each destination, and chose tools that would be helpful for travelling across their assigned planet or moon, and be able to complete their tasks. Some of these tasks included studying soil or taking pictures. We are all prepared to lead some exciting space adventures on expertly-designed space vehicles now! Aside from learning about rockets and rovers, we also learned about meteorites and the extreme environments that exist on different planets. We learned about what meteorites look and feel like, and how they are different from other rocks. We even go to hold and look at two real-life meteorites, and see how they are dark in color and magnetic! Finally, we learned about some organisms that live in extreme environments on Earth, like penguins and some bacteria, to help us imagine what extreme environments may be like in outer space. Scientists study organisms like these to get a better understanding of what other organisms may live in places like Mars or Jupiter's moons.

Campers add tools to their space rover
Campers launch their straw rockets!

Ready, Set, Blast Off!

Thursday was all about the moon. The Orange and Red groups saw a planetarium show called Larry Cat in Space, about a cat that goes to the moon. The Blue and Purple groups saw a show called Sun, Earth, and Moon. They learned about Earth's rotations and revolution around the Sun, and how that affects the way that we see the moon and sun. We learned a lot about the phases of the moon, and did two activities to help illustrate the different appearances of the moon. We made moon phases plates, in which we glued the phases of the moon around the outside of a paper plate. Make sure to have your camper take out their plate and show you which phase of the moon we are currently in! We also played a moon phases game that was similar to musical chairs. Counselors called out different phases of the moon and campers had to run to the card with the illustration of that phase.

Campers wait for the next moon phase to be
called out during he moon phases game
A sticker-adorned camper makes a moon phases
plate craft

After learning all about stars on Tuesday, we learned about galaxies on Friday.  We looked at different galaxies and created out own classification system for them. Then we learned about the Hubble galaxy classification system, and how scientists use classifications to sort things into groups. We did an activity called Galaxy Go Round, in which we dropped little circles of paper in water and watched how they expanded when they spun it around. This activity helped illustrate how galaxies expand.

Campers learn about galaxies expanding during the
Galaxy Go Round activity
Campers paint their galaxy jars

Campers work together to figure out how
 they would classify their galaxies

With summer at its prime, we hope you can spend some time with your camper observing the night sky and learning more about the planets, moons, and stars! We sure enjoyed venturing into outer space this week, but are excited to come back to Earth next week for Adventures in Chemistry and Creature Features to learn about the science and animals from our home planet.

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