Magical, Mystical Storm Glass: Space & Weather

Magical, Mystical Storm Glass: Space & Weather

Today our meteorologists-in-training discovered the properties of the chemicals (potassium nitrate, ammonium chloride, camphor, and ethanol) in a storm glass. They then made their own storm glass and learned how they “predicted” weather. The premise of the functioning of the storm glass is that temperature and pressure affect solubility, sometimes resulting in a clear liquid and other times causing precipitants to form. In similar barometers, the liquid level moves up or down a tube in response to atmospheric pressure.

Ask your camper: is a storm glass completely accurate? (No, it is not a truly scientific method)

Aurora Program Pictures

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Shark Dissections – Oceanography

Shark Dissections – Oceanography

The ocean is one of the most diverse habitats, with a great variety of animals at all different depths. Fish are just one of the many different types of animals that call the ocean “home”.  Today, our campers explored two types of fish (dissected earlier in the week) – a bony fish (perch) and a cartilaginous fish (spiny dogfish shark). They analyzed the similarities and differences between the two fish side by side, and quite literally got an ‘in depth’ view of the structures and functions of both fishes. One interesting investigation had the campers compare the livers of each fish.

Ask your camper:  What happened when you placed both fish’s livers in water? The shark liver (markedly larger) floated while the perch liver sank. Why did this happen? The shark liver is largely involved with helping the shark remain buoyant in the water (perch have a swim bladder to help with buoyancy while the shark doesn’t). 

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Fairytale Roller Coasters – Makey Lab

Fairytale Roller Coasters – Makey Lab

The fairytale roller coasters are complete. After working hard for two days in groups, the campers finalized and tested their roller coaster designs. The coasters were created for the same fairy tale creatures the campers built houses for earlier in the week! The designs contained twists, turns, drops and loops. 

Ask your camper: Were you able to create any loops? If so, how?  

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Genetics: Nature or Nurture? Day 5

Genetics: Nature or Nurture? Day 5

After a week of hard work, exploration, and discovery, campers performed a protein purification process to isolate the GFP (green fluorescent protein) product from our bacterial transformation experiment. Our budding molecular biologists used the same process that is performed in the ‘real world’ (by actual molecular geneticists) to isolate a protein product (such as insulin or growth hormone) that has been mass-produced through bacterial transformation. 

Ask your camper: What part of the central dogma deals with protein production in the cell? (translation)

 

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Jellyfish in a Bottle – Oceanography

Jellyfish in a Bottle – Oceanography

Jellyfish are one of nature’s most bizarre and beautiful animals. The students were put into the role of biomedical modeling engineerings and tasked with creating life-like models of jellyfish! Jellyfish have a transparent, bell-shaped body that is 95% water and allows for perfect camouflage. Many creatures of the deep ocean, including an estimated 50% of all species of jellyfish, often exhibit bioluminescence.

Ask your camper: Why do jellyfish bioluminesce? 

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Twist and Slide! – Makey Lab

Twist and Slide! – Makey Lab

Today our playground  engineers experimented with angles and materials to test the speed of items going down a slide, and learned about gravity and kinetic and potential energy in the process. They then were challenged to build a slide that has at least two twists and allows the object going down to land safely at the bottom without being thrown off the slide!

Ask your camper: what physics concept is essential for a slide to work? (Gravity)

Genetics: Nature or Nurture? Day 4

Genetics: Nature or Nurture? Day 4

Today the campers continued their explorations of drosophila melanogaster – the common fruit fly (a widely-used model organism in biological studies). Throughout the week, campers have studied normal fruit flies (as well as flies with various genetic mutations) in order to get familiar with handling and observing them. We’ve challenged them to become acclimated to “best practices” with data collection from these tiny, yet useful organisms. Some of our mutant flies are from a lineage of flies that has been used in actual genetics research involving epilepsy.  Our campers identified stimuli which elicit seizure-like activity in the mutant flies, to determine the longevity of the seizure and latency time (recovery time, post-seizure). They followed these studies with a fascinating experiment which tested the effect of (actual) anti-epileptic drugs on the seizure-activity of the flies.

Ask your camper: What treatment did you give your flies and how did the flies respond? (answers vary by student experiment)

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Cloud in a Bottle – Space & Weather

Cloud in a Bottle – Space & Weather

Yesterday our young meteorologists were able to create lightning in a bottle so today we’re going to see if they’ll be able to create a whole thunderstorm inside a bottle!! (Or at the very least the accompanying clouds that come with a thunderstorm…). The young meteorologists started trying to make a cloud in a bottle using warm water, ice, and a small mason jar… but had no luck in creating a cloud. They quickly learned the importance of a CCN – a Cloud Condensation Nuclei – which is necessary for every cloud to form! The campers also tried to make clouds using balloon pumps to create a high pressure system in a bottle, then quickly released the pump. The change from high to low pressure also created a cloud! 

Ask your camper: What does a CCN do? 

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Space & Weather: Galactic Glow & Goo

Space & Weather: Galactic Glow & Goo

One primary reasons why space has captivated the human imagination for so many centuries is arguably because of the beautiful lights and dazzling twinkle that can be seen in the night skies and today, our scientists were able to capture some of that “galactic glow” in the classroom. Campers were able to learn about some of the different ways light gets produced and even created some glow-in-the-dark slime to keep as a momento as well.

Ask your camper: What is chemiluminescence?

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Oceanography – Submarine Challenge

Oceanography – Submarine Challenge

Today our young ocean engineers continued working on their week-long challenge of building a functional model submarine. By this time they should have begun to refine their designs and optimize their submarine’s functionality. Campers were able to apply their knowledge of buoyancy and water pressure from their explorations on monday as well as channel their inner engineer as they solved problems and overcame challenges!

Ask your camper: How did your submarine perform by the end of the activity today? What are your plans for tomorrow?

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