Friday, July 15, 2016

Fun with Physics

We have had so much fun with physics this week! From exploring sound waves, to looking inside of a cow eye, to making various kinds of circuits, we saw just how vast the topic of physics really is! Here is a brief summary of all the fun that was had this week at Camp Explorations:

On Monday, we learned about sound. We used rubber bands, paperclips, and marbles to simulate a sound wave. We taped the marbles to the paper clips and connected several of these in a line using rubber bands. When we moved one end back and forth, we saw how the wave traveled down the line. We then learned about guitars! We watched a short video about the physics of guitar playing and how the strings create waves that bounce off of the hollowed out inside of the guitar. Then we got to make our own guitars using cardboard boxes and rubber bands for the strings! We had fun playing music with our new creations! Some campers got very creative and made necks and tuning pegs for their guitars. Finally, we used speakers to make oobleck dance! By placing oobleck (cornstarch + water) directly against a subwoofer speaker and playing sounds from an online sine wave generator, we were able to see the oobleck jump up and down!

Campers make guitars after learning about
how they make sound
Campers watch with excitement as the
oobleck stars to dance

On Tuesday, we explored forces and motion. We went through some force and motion exploration stations, where we tested different types of force and motion. We explored how to make the fastest marble run out of foam noodles, we discovered what types of objects allow us to blow the biggest bubbles, we saw how cars roll at different speeds over different materials, and experimented with how ping pong balls rolled when we blew on them with different sized straws. We also made inertia towers, where we stacked wooden blocks on top of each other with index cards in between each. When we pulled the index cards out fast enough, we saw how inertia (resistance to change in motion) helped the blocks stay in their same place, rather than falling over. We also saw how it was harder to keep the tower in place when we used paper cups instead of wooden blocks, as the paper cups have  a lesser mass and thus less inertia. Campers also got the chance to build popsicle stick catapults. We attached plastic spoons to a base of popsicle sticks held together with rubberbands, and had fun launching pom-poms across the room! Finally, we did an activity called "Sheep in a Jeep" where we did all sorts of experiments to see how we could affect the speed of a plastic animal driving a toy car. We built ramps and experimented with different types of surfaces to see how fast the car would go. We also did a "sheep drop" where we used different materials to see if we could affect how quickly our car would fall.

Campers play around with bubbles during the
 force and motion exploration stations
Campers build a ramp for their sheep in a jeep
Campers compare the inertia of a wood block tower
vs. a plastic cup tower
A camper explores how far he can make a
 ping pong ball go b blowing through straws

On Wednesday, we learned about color and light. We made rainbow paper by dipping black construction paper in water that had a film of clear nail polish. The nail polish left a rainbow pattern on the paper and looked really neat! We did an eye poke experiment that helped us to see how our eyes take in information upside-down and then flip it over so we see upright. We saw a planetarium show about light waves and color. We learned about why the sky is blue, and other fascinating ways that we see color in our world. And for the most wow-factor activity of the day, we dissected cow eyes!!! We got to see everything from the retina, to the lens, to the optic nerve, and even the tapetum, which is a shiny blue-green layer in he back of a cow's eye that helps it see at night!

Campers dip their black construction paper
into water with a film of nail polish to
create their rainbow paper

Thursday was all about energy. We talked about potential vs. kinetic energy and played a card game to sort different kinds of energy that we see everyday into the two groups. We explored light bulb efficiency by using a hand-held generator on incandescent and LED bulbs, and seeing which is brighter and which took more energy to light up. We made energy bead bracelets using some regular beads and some UV beads that change color in the sun! We also got to experiment with the UV beads by putting sunscreen on one- this bead did not become nearly as bright as the others when it was exposed to sunlight. We also played an energy action game where we acted out different things associated with energy. We laid down in a line to be a wire, and jumped with excitement to become electricity!

Campers make their energy bead bracelets

Campers play around with some
incandescent light bulbs that they
illuminate with a hand generator

Campers learn about light bulb efficiency

On Friday, we explored many different kinds of circuits. We learned about the difference between a series and parallel circuit, and made some examples of each in our journals. We made circuits using two different kinds of dough- one conductor and one insulator. We stuck an LED light into the conductor dough and then saw it light up when we put the end of alligator clips into the conductor dough as well. It was cool to see how the conductor dough carried the electric current without the clips even having to touch the light! We explored the difference between conductors and insulators more when we created circuits with a gap in them, and saw what happened when we filled that gap with a conductor, like a paperclip or tin foil, or an insulator, like a glove or a plastic cap. the conductors completed the circuit and allowed a light to shine, while the insulators did not complete the electric circuit and so he light remained dark. We also got to make paper circuits using teeny, tiny LED lights taped on a circuit of copper wire. Unfortunately, we had many difficulties with this project and so not all the campers got to see their LEDs light up, but it was still cool to see how many different things we can use to make circuits. Finally, we got to explore snap circuit kits. Campers got to pick from a booklet of many different circuits to put together on their snap board. some of their circuits turned on lights, and some even made fans spin around!

Campers build a snap circuit
                                          Campers succeed in completing a circuit
                                            with a paperclip while learning
                                           about conductors vs. insulators!
Campers make their paper circuits
Campers watch as their dough circuit
turns on an LED light

Campers create a snap circuit

Whew, we packed a lot of physics fun into one week! We hope your campers had a good time, and we hope to see some of you return next week for Emerging Engineers in the morning and Dinosaur Mysteries in the afternoon!

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