Vital Signs – Prosthetics

Vital Signs – Prosthetics

Prosthetics are fake body parts that replace broken or missing ones in humans or animals. They can be made out of different materials and have different types of technology to move or to sense. One of the most complex parts of a prosthesis is the joint—how can it be engineered at the right place and to bend the right way to help someone in daily life? Our bioengineers created their own prosthetic fingers using the ratio of one of their own fingers to scale it to size. But fingers have no muscles—they are powered with tendons connected to arm and wrist muscles. The joints work with tendons to bend the finger. The campers had to create two separate “tendons” in order for the fingers to be able to move.

Ask your camper: Which two tendons allow our fingers to move, and what movement is each tendon in charge of? Flexor, curls fingers. Extensor, straightens fingers


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Oceanography – Deep Ocean (Part 2)

Oceanography – Deep Ocean (Part 2)

Today, our aspiring oceanographers wrapped-up their week-long ocean chemistry experiment (which examined the effect of pH on natural shells). After measuring the final mass of the shells and comparing that to the initial mass of the shells, students were able to conclude that ocean pH is an important abiotic factor for all ocean life, especially the organisms that need to build and maintain shells. Afterwards, they got to model and observe a chemical reaction that is contributing to ocean acidification. Our young oceanographers modeled how climate change and a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, can contribute to ocean acidification by watching a pH indicator (blue) change color (to yellow) before their very eyes!

Ask your camper: Why did the blue water turn yellow? (as COdissolved into our blue “ocean water”, the color changed from blue to yellow, indicating a pH change from basic to acidic


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Space & Weather – Space Blast!

Space & Weather – Space Blast!

What happens to an object when you compress the air around it? Campers explored Boyle’s Law – (a chemistry law which explains the relationship between volume and pressure) – in order to help save a group of friendly little aliens who appear to be sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure… Our new squishy alien friends were facing a grave danger when some other, meaner stick aliens kept trying to capture them! Campers used their knowledge of Boyle’s Law and a special tool – the Alien Relocation Device (ARD) – to launch our new alien friends to safety! 

Ask your camper: What is a term to describe the relationship between volume and pressure? (inverse)

Aurora Program Pictures


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Belleville Program Pictures


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Makey Lab – Water Slides

Makey Lab – Water Slides

It was the final day of playground construction, and what better way to end a hot summer week than by building a water slide! Our campers constructed their very own working water slides. They had to figure out how to waterproof the materials, ensure the slide was tall enough, and make sure all the water didn’t spill off the sides. To test them, they used little plastic animals to go down the slides by pouring water at varying speeds. The campers were successful and the little animals had a blast too!

Ask your camper: How did you waterproof your slide? Maybe they used foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, or plastic cups

Innovation Through the Ages – Day 5

Innovation Through the Ages – Day 5

Today in Innovation Through the Ages…….Huston we have lift-off! The students were clear to launch their bottle rockets this morning! Students studied Leonardo Da Vinci’s 3D shapes and other 3D innovations and then created a collaborative 3D form –a dodecahedron – made by the entire group. In Engineering, student groups each decided on an innovation that they believe contributed the most to humanity, they researched its history, designed and built a model of it, and created a brief power point detailing the history of the innovation and their process. Each group then had a turn presenting to the class.  

Ask your student what a dodecahedron is (a three-dimensional shape having twelve plane faces, in particular a regular solid figure with twelve equal pentagonal faces).



Innovation Through the Ages – Day 4

Innovation Through the Ages – Day 4

Today in Innovation Through the Ages…….students tested the power and accuracy of their siege machines but launching a projectile at the designated target! They then reviewed the history of rocketry and propulsion, rocket design and function, and chemical reactions. After, students designed and built vinegar and baking soda-powered rockets! Launch was delayed due to weather, but mission control has cleared a launch time for Friday morning!  They also learned about the development of the printing press, and created drawings inspired by their notes and observations during the week. Then they transferred their drawings onto Styrofoam plates and created prints.

Ask your student how vinegar and baking-soda can power a rocket!

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Vital Signs – Titrations

Vital Signs – Titrations

Antacids are often used to treat heartburn. When acidic stomach content comes back up the esophagus heartburn patients experience a burning sensation behind the breastbone. Our biochemist campers used titrations to find the appropriate amount of base to neutralize the acid. Their job was to change the pH from 1 to 7 (neutral), by adding the base. At the end of the activity, campers took the calculated amount of base (antacid), put it into a capsule that allows for diffusion, and set it into the acid (represents heartburn). On Friday they will check the results to see if the acid was neutralized!

Ask your camper: If we start with 10mL of the acid, hydrochloric acid, how many mL of the base, sodium hydroxide, so we need to add to reach a pH of 7? The same amount – 10mL! The acid and base are the same concentration, and at opposite ends of the pH scale. 


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Oceanography – Submarine Challenge

Oceanography – Submarine Challenge

Today the students started wrapping up their submarine designs. Submarines are a special vehicle that can be submerged and operated under water. Submarines must operate in agreement with natural laws like Archimedes’ Principle and natural forces like gravity, the buoyant force, and water pressure. Typically, a submarine has compartments that facilitate how it maneuvers (up or down) the depths of the ocean. A ballast tank is a compartment that holds air and water. The submarine pumps water and air in and out of its ballast tanks to manipulate its mass and therefore, its density. Different proportions of air and water help it rise or sink in the ocean based on the density of the entire vehicle.

Ask your camper: How did you design your submarine so that it could maneuver up and down in the water?

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Space & Weather – Hawt Hovercrafts

Space & Weather – Hawt Hovercrafts

Our aerospace engineers have designed suitable space gear to weather the extreme conditions of space, they have designed nifty compasses and telescopes to help them navigate their way around the galaxy, and today they were challenged with figuring out how to create a vehicle (specifically a hovercraft!) that can help them travel around and explore other planets. Through our study of Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion, students are better able to anticipate/predict what their hovercraft’s movements will be like in outer space, since the laws of physics apply for the entire universe and not only here on Earth!

Ask your camper: What is Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion? (For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.)

Aurora Program Pictures

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Belleville Program Pictures

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Makey Lab – Roller Coasters

Makey Lab – Roller Coasters 

Bring on the twists and turns! After successfully saving the fairytale world from the disasters earlier in the week, our campers were tasked with designing something fun and exciting for the elves and fairies – a roller coaster! The campers experimented with the different materials and found their perfect heights for the hills and loops. They are all prepared to build and test their coasters tomorrow/.

Ask your camper: Did the balls roll down the tubing faster when the tubing was held more or less steep? Why?

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