Space & Weather: Cosmos Cuisine

Space & Weather: Cosmos Cuisine

What do astronauts eat when they are out in space serving on a mission?? Well, like anyone else, they need to eat – but since they can’t exactly pull into the nearest drive-thru on the way to Mars and there aren’t grocery stores floating in space, astronauts have to be very intentional about the kinds of food they bring with them on their missions. Today our campers took on a dual role: they were both astronauts in training and & food scientists! They evaluated food samples to determine how suitable certain foods are for going into space!!

Ask your camper:  Do you prefer eating fresh fruits or dehydrated fruit?

Aurora Program Pictures

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O’Fallon Program Pictures

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Oceanography – Planktonic Organisms 

Oceanography – Planktonic Organisms

Planktonic organisms are the drifters; the free floaters within the aquatic domain – but they are so important because they form the basis of the food chain. Today, our Aquatic Microbiologists studied a tiny crustacean called Daphnia, aka “water flea”.  They turned camera phones into microscopes using a tiny lens that sticks to the camera aperture!! Using this tool, they could take pictures and videos while they studied Daphnia physiology. Tomorrow they will use this baseline data as a way to compare how the Daphnia respond to certain environmental cues, such as temperature. 

Ask your camper: How did you like using the “Micro-Phone Lens”?

Aurora Program Pictures

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O’Fallon Program Pictures

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Makey Lab – Let There Be Light!

Makey Lab – Let There Be Light!

Let there be beautiful light! After learning about circuits on the first day, our electrical engineers also took on the role of artist. Using LEDs, copper tape, and conductive pens, the campers created light up pictures. Once the circuits worked, pairs colored in the images. What made it so special? Each pair had one image in a series of 10 pictures that when put together created one giant picture!

Ask your camper: Which part of the circuit they created is the load? (The LED lights)

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Genetics: Nature or Nurture? Day 2

Genetics: Nature or Nurture? Day 2

After extracting our own DNA from our cheek cells yesterday, we performed a lab technique that makes thousands of copies of part of our genome (Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR) in order to have enough DNA to analyze. Today, we used special “molecular scissors” to cut the DNA copies into fragments and then separated them out using a technique called gel electrophoresis. Overnight, our gels with our separated DNA fragments will be stained, and we’ll check them out tomorrow, to identify our own genes (DNA) for a particular trait (in this case, the ability to taste a bitter chemical or not). 

Ask your camper: What electrical charge does DNA carry? (negative)

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