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

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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Vital Signs – Breaks/Sprains/Strains

Vital Signs – Breaks/Sprains/Strains

Common summertime injuries that can happen to kids while they’re playing outside on play sets, running up hills, falling off bikes… Today our doctors dove into the study of orthopedics and learned how to identify and treat various types of fractures as well as muscular strains and sprains. Students got to practice wrapping each other’s ankles and/or wrists in a comfortable and supportive manner such that it effectively immobilized the limb to allow it the chance to recover. They then had to learn how to identify and model different types of fractures that can occur in the bone, including transverse, butterfly and spiral breaks.

Ask your camper: What is the difference between a sprain and a strain?  (A sprain is when a ligament has been badly damaged or torn and a strain is when a tendon or muscle has been damaged or torn.)

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Oceanography – Microorganisms

Oceanography – Microorganisms

NOAA needs our team of oceanographers to investigate how temperature affects plankton physiology – ocean temps are on the rise, after all! Plankton play an important role in all water ecosystems, especially being a food source for many larger animals. If rising temperatures affect plankton adversely, we may need to anticipate a lot of trickle-down effects on the organisms that depend on them as a food source. Daphnia, commonly called water fleas, were studied today when our aspiring oceanographers turned their camera phones into microscopes in order to observe plankton physiology (such as heart rate, or abdominal pulses of the Daphnia). Yesterday they collected baseline physiology data (room temperature) and today they repeated their experiments using ice water and/or warmed water.

Ask your camper: How did the ice affect the physiology of Daphnia? (colder temperatures resulted in decreased heart rates). What about the warmer temps? (warmer temps resulted in increased heart rates and sometimes death)

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