Friday, July 29, 2016

Archaeology Quest

We have had a fun week looking into the past! Take a look at some of the archaeological adventures we had at Camp Explorations this week:

On Monday, we stepped back in time to 3600 BC to visit Ancient Mesopotamia. We built 3D maps of Mesopotamia to illustrate places like the Arabian Desert, the Zagros Mountains, and important Mesopotamian cities like Uruk, Ur, Babylon, and Nineveh. We compared the map of Ancient Mesopotamia to what the region looks like today. the Arabian Desert, Zagros Mountains, and the many seas  and rivers surrounding the area remain the same, but the region is now divided into the countries of the Middle East. We then learned about two forms of communication invented by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia. We made cylinder seals, or cylinders engraved with a 'picture story' and used to roll impressions onto clay, and practiced rolling them out onto clay. Although Mesopotamian cylinder seals were made using stone, glass or clay, we made ours using cylindrical containers like Pringles tubes, and attached foam stickers to create our picture stories. We also practiced writing in cuneiform, a Sumerian system of writing. We included an image of the cuneiform alphabet in our weekly questions post, if you would like to take a look! We finished our adventure in Mesopotamia with a Sumerian Game, in which we walked through a day in the life of a Sumerian person in Mesopotamia and had to make decisions similar to the ones Sumerians had to make- such as whether to carry buckets of water from a far away river to water crops or build irrigation streams, or whether to protect the city-state by building walls and moats or having people stand guard around the city 24 hours/day.

Campers make a 3D Mesopotamia map
Campers make their cylinder seals
Campers get some background information
before playing the Sumerian game

On Tuesday, the Purple group and half of the Orange group went to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology for a program about myths and monsters, and the rest of the campers stayed at the Museum of Natural History to learn about Ancient China. At the Kelsey Museum, campers looked at archaeological pottery pieces, toured the galleries to learn about ancient myths and monsters, and even got to create their own monsters! At the Museum of Natural History, we had a variety of games and activities to help us venture back to China circa 1900 BC. For our craft of the day, campers made terracotta soldiers like the ones that comprise the Terracotta Army, a recreation of Emperor Qin's army hat have been used to protect his tomb. We played a Marco Polo Silk Road game, where campers traveled along the journey that Marco Polo made between Italy and China, trading goods as they went and learning about historical trade routes and some of the difficulties and dangers travelers would have faced. Campers also got to experience two games the kids in Ancient China would play. Tangrams are an Ancient Chinese puzzle using 7 geometric shapes to create different images. Campers had fun arranging the pieces to create different kinds of animals. We also played the Game of Nim, in which stones are set out in rows and players pick up stones according to certain rules, hoping to leave their opponent with the last stone.

A camper shows off his terracotta creation
Campers make images with tangrams

Campers make mythical monsters at the Kelsey Museum

Campers determine strategies while
playing Marco Polo Silk Road

Campers learn about ancient myths
and monsters at the Kelsey Museum

On Wednesday, we were all together back at the Museum of Natural History to continue our journey through time, this time to Ancient Rome around 900 BC. We started the afternoon with an exciting voyage through Ancient Roman ruins on Google Maps. We got to see the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Valens Aqueduct, the Pantheon, Pompeii, and man others. We then got to build two trademarks of roman architecture: columns and arches. Campers got to choose one of a Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian column to make using cardstock and clay. We used to plaster molds of ice cubs to build traditional Roman arches and go to see how essential a keystone is to holding up an arch. We also made some beautiful Roman mosaics and saw how the Romans used small pieces of stone and ceramic to make colorful floor and wall art.

Campers work on their columns
Campers make their Roman mosaics

Campers build a Roman arch 
Campers show off their Roman arch
Campers travel through Ancient Roman ruins on Google Earth

On Thursday, Yellow group and the other half of Orange group went to the Kelsey for their turn at myths and monsters, while the rest of the campers stayed at the Museum of Natural History for their trip to Ancient China. While the campers here enjoyed some of the same activities from Tuesday, like Tangrams and the Game of Nim, they also explored Chinese ming bowls and pictograms. Ming bowls are clay bowls decorated with blue paint. Campers got to look at some traditional Chinese designs, and then make their own bowls using clay and blue paint. Campers also got to paint some stories with Chinese pictograms and learned about how the pictograms use images to tell stories.

Campers make images with tangrams
Campers make images with tangrams

A camper paints his ming bowl

Campers paints their ming bowls

Campers play the Game of Nim

Campers make mythical monsters at the Kelsey Museum

On Friday, we delved a little deeper into the archaeological process and learned about how archaeologists work. We read a diary entry from a 9-year old boy living in 1845, and thought about what items archaeologists might find when excavating the boy's backyard. We learned about the difference between an artifact, objects that were used or made by people, and ecofacts, environmental remains. We looked at some objects found at a dig site and determined whether they are artifacts or ecofacts, and what their purpose may have been. Then we did a stratigraphy activity where we matched artifacts to their appropriate time period, Modern, colonial, or Prehistoric, and then taped them to a diagram of stratified soil layers. The bottom layer was the oldest, Prehistoric times, and included items such as mastodon artifacts and an arrowhead. The middle layer, Colonial times, had artifacts like shoe remnants and an old knife. The top layer, Modern times, showed us a computer, a motorcycle, and other modern-day conveniences. The times sure have changed! Campers also went to a planetarium show called Stories My Ancestors Told, where they learned about Native American creation stories and how archaeologists can use their discoveries to share stories of the past. Finally, we did a pottery dig and used our archaeology skills to interpret some of the images on the pottery.

Campers put artifacts in the correct layer of soil
Campers look at artifacts from an
archaeological site and determine
 what they were used for

Campers dig for pottery

We cannot believe we are already entering August and our 7th week of camp! This summer is flying by, but we hope to see some of you again this summer. Next week is CSI: Ann Arbor in the morning and Paleontology Rocks in the afternoon!

Wild Adaptations

Welcome to Wild Adaptations in the morning session of Camp Explorations!

On Monday, the campers learned about different kinds of adaptations that animals have that help them survive.  Specifically, they learned about the different types of beaks that birds have, and how the different shapes allow the birds to be specialized in eating different kinds of foods.  The campers played with slime made from Metamucil, which is similar to the slime of a hagfish - a deep sea creature!  Then the campers made cootie catchers and quizzed each other on different kinds of adaptations.  To end the day, the campers played bingo, using some of the new words that they learned today about adaptations!

On Tuesday, the campers saw the world in a new light.  The campers made Styling Deep-Sea Goggles that allowed them to see what everything would look like in the deep-sea! Hint - it's a blue down there.  Then the campers learned about the pressure of the ocean, by comparing a Styrofoam cup that has been taken down to 1,500 meters under the ocean and a regular one.

Flat Stanley visited us at camp this week.
Then the campers made finger paintings of shrimp that live all across the oceans.

On Wednesday, the campers got a special visit from the Leslie Nature and Science Center. Lannis, our educator from LSNC, brought two owls and talked about all the different kinds of adaptations the owls have that help them survive!  The campers also got to make mystery painting.  First, the campers used oil pastels to paint nocturnal animals on black velvet.  Then they added UV paint to their drawings, which only appear under black light.  Night time is when these pictures really come alive!

On Thursday, the campers learned about prehistoric adaptations and got a tour of all the cool dinosaurs on our second floor!

The campers then got to become a dinosaur, by making triceratops hats, claws and tails.  

Then the campers picked random traits for a dinosaur out of a bag, and drew a picture of what it might look like!

Watching clips of Prehistoric Sea Monsters*

*You can find the entire film of Prehistoric Sea Monsters on YouTube.

On Friday, the campers got to Skype with a real deep-sea grad student from Florida National University!  Earlier in the week they thought of some questions to ask her.  She talked about what she does, and what kinds of creatures she finds in the deep sea!

Asking questions to the scientist

Asking more questions

Next, the campers got to extract (and play with!) strawberry DNA. The campers also learned how scientists collect data about where deep-sea creatures live. The counted all the sea creatures they could find on our map, and counted how many of each kind they found in each location.  To end the day, the campers got to learn about DNA that's in all living creatures.  They even created their own songs about DNA!
Extracting DNA from strawberries
Flat Stanley helping extract the DNA

Animal Explorers

This week campers learned all about different animals!

On Monday we learned about Things with Wings.  Campers went to look at the birds in the Michigan Wildlife gallery and then decorated their own bird wings.  Then we read Stellaluna by Janell Cannon. We played a game outside where 1 camper was a bat and had to search for its food (insects).

Liz reading Stellaluna
Listening to Stellaluna

On Tuesday, we learned about bugs! We read The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle.  We made spider hats complete with 8 eight legs.  We then did some insect races outside where we hopped like grasshoppers and flew around like bees.   

We dressed up like butterflies and used these special glasses to see how an insect sees.  We also listened to the "Butterfly, Butterfly" song and danced through the 4 stages of the butterfly life cycle!

We also talked about what makes and insect and sorted plastic animals into 2 groups (bugs and non-bugs).   

On Wednesday, we learned about animals under the sea.  We read Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister and made our own rainbow fish with a colorful and shiny scales.  We then played a tag game of sharks and minnows outside.

We learned about different ocean animals by rolling the die of ocean animals and doing the movements of those animals. 

 We then made a paper plate jellyfish and did the Jelly Dance with them!

On Thursday, we learned about Furry Friends and started off with reading Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin. We talked about how "furry" animals are called mammals.
We made a paper bag bear puppet and then used them when we listened to the Forest Dance Song.

We played an animal dice game where one die had "furry" animals on it and the other one had actions on it like Stomp like... or Hop like.

Hop like... a lion.

Stomp like...a squirrel. 

On Friday, we learned about animals that can be found in our backyards.  We read the book, In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming.  We then had our own "grass" pictures where we "cut" the grass to see the animals hiding in the "grass".

The animals we found hiding in the grass. 

We also looked at pictures of insects and matched their X-rays to the pictures.  

We played an animal obstacle course outside.  We hopped like rabbits in the hula hoops and slithered like a snake between cones. We went on a nature scavenger hunt around the Museum to look for different animals and plants.

Flying like a bird over the cones
Slithering like a snake
Hopping like a rabbit

We also made Cheerio Bird Feeders that you can hang outside your house.