Space & Weather – Compass Creations

Space & Weather – Compass Creations

Our young Aerospace Engineers continued their explorations of magnetism and magnetic fields in order to create an “out of this world” navigational compass. Magnetic compasses work well here on Earth since there is a natural magnetic field but do other planets have magnetic fields too? How do different magnets respond to different magnetic fields? Campers discovered how magnetism relates to navigational compasses in order to design and build one that could work on another planet!

Ask your camper: Which planet in the solar system has the strongest magnetic field? (Jupiter)

Aurora Program Pictures

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Belleville Program Pictures

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Space & Weather – Aerospace Engineering

Space & Weather – Aerospace Engineering

The importance of a spacesuit cannot be understated as they literally keep astronauts alive in the extreme conditions of outer space where the cosmic background temperature is -270.45°C (-455°F) but depending on where you are in relation to the Sun, temperatures can also get as high as thousands or millions of degrees! To kick off the week, our aerospace engineers were tasked with exploring the concepts of heat transfer and insulation in order to better understand the types of materials choices they should make to design the most protective space suit possible! 

Ask your camper: What is the difference between heat radiation and heat conduction? (Heat radiation is the transfer of heat through the emission of electromagnetic waves and heat conduction is the transfer of heat through physical contact.)

Aurora Program Pictures

 

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Belleville Program Pictures

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Oceanography – Deep Ocean

Oceanography – Deep Ocean

What are some important physical aspects of the ocean? In today’s activities, campers explored ocean chemistry and physics. They explored ocean chemistry by setting up a week-long experiment to investigate the effect of pH on shells. Since many organisms in the ocean depend on a shell as their primary home/protection it’s difficult for them to build and maintain a shell when ocean pH is dropping – aka ocean acidification is happening. They were also introduced to physics by modeling how light penetrates the ocean depths. Our budding Oceanographers created a model of the ocean that illustrates how certain wavelengths of light only reach so far down. 

Ask your camper: What color (wavelength) of light reaches the furthest depths of the ocean (blue).

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Makey Lab – Playground Engineers

Makey Lab – Playground Engineers

It’s day one for our playground engineers! This week, our campers will create five different pieces of playground equipment. Today, they designed and built a seesaw. A seesaw is a lever, and the goal for our campers was to build a see saw that was perfectly balanced with two masses, one on each end, with a pivot point in the middle. The most difficult part of the process was designing that pivot point to allow the seesaw to easily tilt back and forth.

Ask your camper: What is the technical term for the pivot point? Fulcrum

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Magical, Mystical Storm Glass: Space & Weather

Magical, Mystical Storm Glass: Space & Weather

Today our meteorologists-in-training discovered the properties of the chemicals (potassium nitrate, ammonium chloride, camphor, and ethanol) in a storm glass. They then made their own storm glass and learned how they “predicted” weather. The premise of the functioning of the storm glass is that temperature and pressure affect solubility, sometimes resulting in a clear liquid and other times causing precipitants to form. In similar barometers, the liquid level moves up or down a tube in response to atmospheric pressure.

Ask your camper: is a storm glass completely accurate? (No, it is not a truly scientific method)

Aurora Program Pictures

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O’Fallon Program Pictures

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Shark Dissections – Oceanography

Shark Dissections – Oceanography

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). 

Aurora Program Pictures

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O’Fallon Program Pictures

 

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Fairytale Roller Coasters – Makey Lab

Fairytale Roller Coasters – Makey Lab

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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Twist and Slide! – Makey Lab

Twist and Slide! – Makey Lab

Today our playground  engineers experimented with angles and materials to test the speed of items going down a slide, and learned about gravity and kinetic and potential energy in the process. They then were challenged to build a slide that has at least two twists and allows the object going down to land safely at the bottom without being thrown off the slide!

Ask your camper: what physics concept is essential for a slide to work? (Gravity)

Cloud in a Bottle – Space & Weather

Cloud in a Bottle – Space & Weather

Yesterday our young meteorologists were able to create lightning in a bottle so today we’re going to see if they’ll be able to create a whole thunderstorm inside a bottle!! (Or at the very least the accompanying clouds that come with a thunderstorm…). The young meteorologists started trying to make a cloud in a bottle using warm water, ice, and a small mason jar… but had no luck in creating a cloud. They quickly learned the importance of a CCN – a Cloud Condensation Nuclei – which is necessary for every cloud to form! The campers also tried to make clouds using balloon pumps to create a high pressure system in a bottle, then quickly released the pump. The change from high to low pressure also created a cloud! 

Ask your camper: What does a CCN do? 

Aurora Program Pictures

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O’Fallon Program Pictures

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Makey Lab – Coding a Dance

Makey Lab – Coding a Dance

Did you know you can write code without a computer? Today our makers did just that and, after being introduced to the basics of coding, began to create code with sticky notes, and quickly realized the precision needed in coding successfully.  They then worked in groups to code a dance (create an algorithm) by creating commands for each step. Eventually, each group performed a dance that a different group had coded!

Ask your camper: The background for your dance was your music. What might a computer programmer’s background be?