Game Day STEM – Race Day

Game Day STEM – Race Day

The day has finally come! Our game day engineers have been working hard all week long to build a model mechanical swimmer that can outperform all others! After days of designing, troubleshooting, and testing, these mechanical swimmers were put to the ultimate test – a race against another team’s mechanical swimmer! 

Ask your camper: What was the primary difference between the movement of the swimmer in air, compared to water? (resistance was higher in water, so the swimmer needed to overcome that in order to move in water)

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Game Day STEM – Gold Medal Archers!

Game Day STEM – Gold Medal Archers!

Katniss & Hawkeye aren’t the only ones in town who know how to handle a bow & arrow! Today, our aspiring archers designed and tested their own bows & “arrows” (don’t worry, we kept it safe, parents). Students explored various factors relating to bow design as well as arrow design. It’s not easy creating a functional bow and arrow, given all the factors we can manipulate, so they had to troubleshoot and solve problems along the way. Campers explored some key physics concepts behind their design and how they can hit that coveted bullseye using their own equipment!

Ask your camper: What term is given to the speed and distance of an arrow when using a particular bow? (cast)

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Game Day STEM – Cycling Fun!

Game Day STEM – Cycling Fun!

The quest for the optimal knee flexion angle continues! Today we shifted our focus from achieving the highest vertical jump to figuring out how to reach the fastest cycling speeds through the power of our knees and how we choose to bend & extend them. Students played the role of cycling coaches and analyzed various training video clips to try and determine the knee flexion range that produced the best results in terms of both power and speed. (Fun Fact: The current high speed cycle record was set by American cycler Denise Mueller-Korenek in 2018 when she accelerated up to a speed of 183.93 mph after being initially dragged by a race car to a “starting speed” of 100mph.)

Ask your camper: What is the optimal knee flexion angle that gives bicyclists maximum efficiency? (Maximum efficiency occurs when the minimum knee flexion occurs at approximately 67°- 70° and the maximum knee flexion occurs at around 120°-130°.)

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Game Day STEM – What’s your Vertical?

Game Day STEM – What’s your Vertical?


Humans may not have evolved the ability to fly but there are humans out there who can achieve vertical (jumps) of up to 60 inches (His Royal Airness, Michael Jordan, was able to regularly clock-in with a vertical jump of at least 40 inches for his dunks)! Today students investigated how the position of their body affects the ways in which it can move. Investigations included how much we should bend our knees or what we should do with our arms (before and during take-off) in order to optimize resulting jump height. Our athletes used a special tool to measure knee flexion angles (how much we bend our knees) to determine how high they could jump when bending their knees at various flexion angles! They had to keep their arm position consistent for each jump, too!

Ask your camper: What was the name of the tool we used to measure knee flexion? (goniometer)

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Game Day STEM – Spin

Game Day STEM – Spin

If you’ve ever wondered how pitchers are able to throw wicked curve balls or soccer players are able to “bend it like Beckham” then today’s lesson will help solve the mystery! Today students were able to learn & explore the Magnus Effect – the cool physics phenomenon behind these “mind-bending” sports feats. In class students practiced applying this technique and analyzing the difference the additional spin had on how their projectile’s trajectory.

At Home: Ask your camper to demonstrate the magnus effect.

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Game Day STEM – Catapult Olympics 

Game Day STEM – Catapult Olympics

Today the campers wrapped up their catapult designs! After testing and building yesterday, they put the final touches on their catapults. Using their catapults the campers designed new sports games they could play. Some examples were catapult-basketball, catapult-long jump, and catapult soccer. They also created the accompanying game equipment like nets and hoops.

Ask your camper: What is the optimal angle of release for your catapult?

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Egghead – Game Day STEM 

Egghead – Game Day STEM

Helmets are designed to protect the cyclist’s head against various types of impact. Many materials are used in cycling helmets. The camper’s job was to analyze the use and effectiveness of materials similar to those used in helmets. Ultimately, the campers will use some of these materials to design and test a small helmet to protect an egg from impact.

Ask your camper: What materials did you select to build your helmet? Why did you select these materials?

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A Motion Picture – Game Day STEM

A Motion Picture – Game Day STEM

How is motion represented as a distance-time graph? Today, campers used specialized motion-detecting equipment (called a Calculator-Based Ranger, or CBR) which connects to a graphing calculator and provides a graphical display of detected movements. Campers were challenged to do certain maneuvers and examine the graphical displays to begin to make sense of graphical displays of the movements.

Ask your camper: What does the graph of a person jumping on a trampoline look like? (an arc)

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Power Up! – Game Day STEM

Power Up! – Game Day STEM

In their second day of working on their mechanical swimmers, our engineers added a motor! Swimming requires a series of complex movements in order for the swimmer to travel through the water. In this case, the motorized system will consist of a metal wire attached to a pulley powered by a mini-motor. A metal wire will rotate creating a propulsion mechanism that moves the swimmer’s body through the water. The students will finish building the “arms” of their swimmers later this week.

Ask your camper: What are some of the physical characteristics the mechanical swimmer should have in order for it to move through the water?

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Dive In! – Game Day STEM

Dive In! – Game Day STEM

It’s time to dive in! We have all seen water splash, but what actually creates a splash? Are all splashes the same? Working in groups, campers developed their own questions about splashes and designed experiments to test those questions. They experimented with different objects, masses and heights to see how splashes change.

Ask your camper: What happened to the splash when heavier objects were dropped? When the objects were dropped from higher distances?

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