Oceanography – Submarine Challenge – First Building Day!

Oceanography – Submarine Challenge – First Building Day!

Today was the first day that the students were able to start building their submarines for the Submarine Challenge! The campers used their knowledge of Archimedes’ Principle in order to design ballast tanks for the inside of their submarines. The ballast tanks are compartments that holds water on an aquatic vehicle, and provide stability & maneuverability. Students struggled with the design, but we can’t wait to see what they come up with after tomorrow when they continue building their submarines!

Ask your camper: What is Archimedes’ Principle and how does it apply to submarines? 

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Space & Weather – Astronaut Suit Up

Space & Weather – Astronaut Suit Up

Today our awesome aerospace engineers were tasked with the goal of designing their own pairs of space gloves that have the ability to protect an astronaut from the extreme temperatures of outer space. By using the knowledge they gained from all the materials testing conducted the day before, our campers were able to make wise materials choices to ensure that their space gear is able to provide maximum insulation.

Ask your camper: Explain the design of their space gloves and why they chose the materials combination that they did for their gloves?

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Makey Lab – Let there be Light!

Makey Lab – Let there be Light!

Let there be light! Today in the circuit section of Makey Lab, our campers learned all about the amazing world of circuits! They began by making models of circuits out of everyday materials and then went on to create working circuits out of wires, batteries, button switches, and LED lights. Now that our makers know how to build a basic circuit, they can apply these ideas the rest of the week to create new projects!

Ask your camper: what components make a circuit? 

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Oceanography – Message in a Bottle 

Oceanography – Message in a Bottle

Many organisms use “living light”, or bioluminescence, to communicate – a common occurrence in ocean organisms! Bioluminescence is the production of light by a living creature. Our student researchers learned how to subculture a declining population of ocean algae called dinoflagellates! These “dinos” show bioluminescence when exposed to a disturbance (such as waves in the ocean, or simply by swirling their bottled culture). The campers will monitor their cultures all week and then get to take them home (care instructions provided)!!

Ask your camper:  Why do the dinos need a light/dark cycle? (to mimic the natural light/dark cycle which allows them to ‘recharge’ during the light period so they can bioluminesce during the dark period).


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Space & Weather –  Build-a-Barometer

Space & Weather –  Build-a-Barometer

Welcome to an exciting week of Space-Weather Lab! To kick off the week, our young meteorologists got the opportunity to explore one of the key ingredients to all weather-related phenomena here on Earth – air pressure! They were able to do so by creating their own barometers and going on a field trip around campus in order to measure the air pressures at various locations.

Ask your camper: How does a barometer work? What areas on campus were you able to detect a higher (or lower) air pressure?

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Summer @ IMSA is Almost Here!

Summer @ IMSA is Almost Here!

What do thousands of sea fireflies, 50 lbs of dry ice, and 480 dowel rods have in common? They will all be used in IMSA’s summer 2019 STEM programs! IMSA’s original, hands on STEM curriculum requires LOTS of stuff, and we have been busy getting it all organized and ready for the first group of youth we will welcome on Monday, June 10. Spots are still open in some select programs in late June and July. Visit https://www.imsa.edu/site_section/summerimsa/ to register!


Micro STEM @ Aurora – Friday: Homemade Batteries

Micro STEM @ Aurora – Friday: Homemade Batteries

On our final day of Micro STEM, the campers made their own batteries! First campers made a hand battery. The hand battery works with a piece of aluminum and a copper sheet, which are conductors. They used their own body’s electric charge by placing a hand on each of the plates, then measured the electrical output with a multi-meter.

Ask your student:

What materials did you use for the aluminum air battery? Aluminum foil, paper towel, salt water, and activated charcoal.



Vital Signs @ Springfield – Friday: Prosthetics

Vital Signs @ Springfield – Friday: Prosthetics

Today, our campers developed prosthetic fingers through the use of their own engineering creativity. Our bold inventors have created their own artificial fingers to scale to fit their own hands, including mechanisms to both bend and unbend the finger at all of the joints. Throughout the week, students have been exploring bio-engineering which has allowed them to become experts at analyzing design solutions and repeatedly testing them in order to determine the best way to improve the product.

Ask your student:

Which tendons are responsible for bending and straightening the fingers? (Flexor and extensor tendons)

Vital Signs @ Springfield – Thursday: The Blood Part 1

Vital Signs @ Springfield – Thursday: The Blood Part 1

Today, our scientists delved into the study of blood type and the genetics that help determine it. Students first discovered the physical basis behind the ABO blood type group, analyzing different antigens. In the lab, they attempted to determine the blood type of different samples by creating antibody reactions.

The analysts-in-training also learned the basics of Mendelian genetics, discovering how blood type traits are inherited and why some are dominant over others.

Ask your student:

How many total possibilities are there for blood type? (there are 8 including both genes: A+/-, B+/-, AB+/-, and O+/-)

What is one method to predict the blood type of the offspring when you know that of the parents? (use a Punnett square)

C.S.IMSA @ Springfield – Friday: Drops to DNA Part 2

C.S.IMSA @ Springfield – Friday: Drops to DNA Part 2

The case has been cracked! Our junior forensic scientists worked in the lab today in order to extract DNA from the pieces of a broken vase that were found at the crime scene. After analyzing the evidence and comparing it to the DNA samples from several key suspects, the CSI team has identified the culprit!

Students concluded the week with a successfully cracked case, and experience with real CSI science!

Ask your student:

Were your suspicions from earlier in the week correct? If not, what evidence changed them?