Oceanography – Shark and Perch Comparisons

Oceanography – Shark and Perch Comparisons

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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Engineering Explorations – Off to the Races

Engineering Explorations – Off to the Races

It was off to the boat races! After a week of perfecting their designs, our engineers finally had the chance to test out their boats. There were two races – one that tested for the speed of the boat and one that tested the load capacity of the boat. First, the boats raced to see which one was the fastest, with there being one winner overall. After that, the boats were set stationary in the water and weight was added to see which design was the lightest while also holding the most weight. Some groups chose to focus on speed while others focused on the load capacity. Were their designs successful in the end? Ask your camper to find out! 

Ask your camper: What did your boat look like, and how did it hold up during the races?

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Makey Lab – Fairytale Coasters

Makey Lab – Fairytale Coasters

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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Oceanography – Hydra-ology

Oceanography – Hydra-ology

Today, our team of oceanographers worked on another NOAA project involving a freshwater Cnidarian, the hydra. Turns out, in the Great Lakes of North America there is a population boom of the invasive Daphnia luminex (a close relative to the Daphnia we studied earlier this week). The Great Lakes all connect to the Atlantic Ocean. To prevent invasive spread of D. Luminex into the ocean waters, NOAA wanted us to test the feeding response of hydra on Daphnia to determine if it could be used as a biological control agent. They turned their camera phones into microscopes to document their investigation!

Ask your camper: Did the hydra eat the daphnia? (answers vary by campers, but chances are at least someone in the class had a successful foraging event!)

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Makey Lab – Power Project

Makey Lab – Power Project

Let’s light up the night! Today campers began designing and decorating their own night lights, to finish and bring home at the end of the week. Campers applied their knowledge of circuits to draw out the base of the night light, where the lights and on/off switch will be placed tomorrow. To decorate their night lights, campers created tissue paper mache cups to place over the base that will illuminate beautiful colors!

Ask your camper: Which type/s of circuits will be part of your nightlight? (BOTH series and parallel)

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Engineering Explorations – Rube Goldberg

Engineering Explorations – Rube Goldberg

Second-to-last day of our engineering extravaganza week and our enterprising engineers should be feeling very excited and proud as their Rube Goldberg projects are starting to come to completion. Today students continued testing and troubleshooting their actions and working to link the actions of their simple machines together within their larger contraption to ensure that their machine is iterative (repeatable) and reliable. Teams then proceeded to document their inventions so that they are ready to present their creations to the whole on our final day tomorrow.

Ask your camper: What were some obstacles you had to troubleshoot and find solutions for your invention today?

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Oceanography – Perch Dissection

Oceanography – Perch Dissection

Our aspiring marine zoologists accomplished a perch dissection today! Perch are a type of bony fish and are fascinating because of many of their organs are analogous to our own (eyes, nose, jaw, bones, heart, stomach, liver, gonads, etc). Campers observed a variety of interesting adaptations unique to the perch, including a swim bladder which is a small, clear gas-filled sac inside the body of the perch which fills with air (or empties) allow the perch to have buoyancy in the water and gonads that take up so much room inside the perch that other structures are displaced!

Ask your camper: Why did the gonads of the fish occupy so much space inside the body of the perch? (fish carry out external fertilization, which requires production of a lot of gametes-hence, larger gonads – to increase the probability that at least some of the gametes become fertilized and turn into offspring, allowing those genes to pass into the next generation)

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Makey Lab – Merry-Go-Rounds

Makey Lab – Merry-Go-Rounds

The playground engineers of the local school have asked for our help! They lost the plans to all of the new playground equipment and it’s the job of our young engineers to design and build a new merry-go-round. Along the way the campers learned about centripetal force, which is the force needed to make something move in a circle. After building their merry prototypes, the campers tested their designs with differently massed objects. 

Ask your camper: What is centripetal force? 

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Engineering Explorations – Hull Designs

Engineering Explorations – Hull Designs

Our engineers worked hard the last two days to create a boat that floats and holds weight with a working propeller. The next step was to design an ideal hull for their boats. First our campers learned about the different hull types and the situations they are best used for. After researching the types and identifying points of failure in each one, our campers went back to the drawing board and revamped their own boats. The campers chose whether to create a hull that focused on speed, holding weight, or a combination of both!

Ask your camper: What are points of failure? Aspects of the design or building that are either additional constraints or are not conducive to the solution

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Oceanography – Sea-ing Glasses

Oceanography – Sea-ing Glasses

Some of the most fascinating of sea creatures live in the deep ocean – deeper than rays of light can penetrate. Over generations, these sea creatures have changed colors to help them survive in the deepest parts of the ocean. Today the “under-the-sea interns” examined how light travels beneath the waves and how it affects the living organisms and their survival. The campers created specialty “sea glasses” that allow you to visualize how much light reaches the various depths of the ocean by layering blue cellophane. Using their sea glasses, the campers tested different color fabrics and images of marine life so they could see how visible the sea creatures are at different depths of the ocean. 

Ask your student: How does the coloration of the animal help it to survive at different depths of the ocean? 

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Video of Daphnia magna taken by one of our campers, Yash, with his phone and a micro-phone lens!