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

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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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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Space & Weather – Convection Currents

Space & Weather – Convection Currents

Up, up, and away!! Yesterday, our meteorologists were able to study the movement of convection currents in water – (and how those can end up resulting in hurricanes…!) – and today we shifted our attention to seeing how convection currents behave in the atmosphere by designing colorful tissue paper hot air balloons! Students worked in groups to figure out the optimal hot air balloon shape, size & design and then they harnessed the power of air convection currents to send their creations into the air.

Ask your camper: Why is it that hot air rises and cool air sinks? (Hot air rises because it is less dense, which allows it to “float” above the cooler air.)

Aurora Program Pictures

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Belleville Program Pictures

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Makey Lab – Morse Messages

Makey Lab – Morse Messages

Wireless communication is something that we use every day. But years ago, Morse Code was used to send messages. This form of communication was based on a series of dots and dashes that stood for individual letters and numbers which were sent by telegraph on radio channels. It was sent by whistle, buzzer, tapping, flags and many other ways! Using a buzzer  and a button switch, campers recreated the original Morse code and sent each other secret messages to decipher. 

Ask your camper: When listening to a sound code, how can you tell when a new word is starting? There are four seconds of silence between each word

 

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Oceanography – Squid Dissection

Oceanography – Squid Dissection

Today the young biologists dissected another creature from the depths of the sea – a squid! Squid are unique molluscs for a variety of reasons. They have an internal shell called a pen that evolved to support their streamlined body plan, allowing faster swimming speeds. Squid are fantastic simmers that move via jet propulsion; they take in water into their mantle and then expel it forcefully through their siphone. Some squid can reach 20 mph! Interestingly, squid have three hearts, allowing them to pump blood and deliver oxygen as quickly as humans do.

Ask your camper: Squid are invertebrates – what does that mean?

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