STEMvironment-Friday: Energy House

STEMvironment-Friday: Energy House

This week students used various materials to insulate a cardboard house and then test its efficiency. students will explore concepts of energy involving efficiency and conservation.  Students practiced engineering and science principles through hands-on building and testing.  Today students analyzed the changes they made to their house to see if they improved the energy efficiency, then shared their houses with the group.

At the conclusion of today your students each were given a peat pellet and a sunflower seed (like the boy in Seuss’s The Lorax) with instructions on how to germinate it. We urge you all to plant it and transplant it outdoors!

  1. Set the pellet inside a small tray to keep it upright.
  2. Add an inch of water into the tray.
  3. It could take 30-60 minutes for the pellet to fully absorb the water and expand to a height of 3 inches.
  4. Empty excess water and plant the pellet in a seedling pot.
  5. Plant two seeds in the pellet, in case one doesn’t germinate.
  6. Cover with plastic to keep moisture in. It won’t require additional watering until the seeds sprout or until the pellet surface begins to dry out.
  7. Place near a sunlit window as they require 6-8 hours of light daily.
  8. Once the first seedling emerges, remove the plastic and apply basic care.

STEMvironment-Thursday: The Power of Recycling

STEMvironment-Thursday: The Power of Recycling

Today in the Technology strand, students were placed in the role of Environmental Engineer and asked to apply the principles of recycling to making paper. If your student has brought home the paper in a plastic bag it still needs to dry. Remove it from the bag and leave it overnight. When the paper is completely dry it will feel hard and brittle


Ask your student:

How many times can paper be recycled?

What uses less energy: making new paper or making paper from recycled material?

How Sweet It Is

How Sweet It Is

Another much beloved Summer@IMSA tradition is “Questions for Candy.” At the end of each program day all  participants from a program gather for that program’s daily closing, which includes a round of questions on the days’ activities and prime learning goals.The reward for an answer that comes close to the mark? Smartees, Laffy Taffy,  Jolly Ranchers………


STEMvironment-Wednesday: Plants and People

STEMvironment-Wednesday: Plants and People

One of the activities our STEMvironmentalists engaged in today was using a square plot equation outdoors to calculate the number of plants necessary to support the oxygen needs of one person. They then imagineered a world without plants, and shared the similarities and differences of what that world would be like. Students came away with an understanding that earth could go on without man, but could not without plants or the birds & bees that pollinate them.

Ask your student:

How much oxygen do humans consume in relation to how much a plant produces?

STEMvironment-Tuesday: The Greenhouse Effect

STEMvironment-Tuesday: The Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect happens when certain gases—known as greenhouse gases—collect in Earth’s atmosphere. These gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide (N2O), fluorinated gases, and ozone. Today our STEMvironmentalists used data inputs on normal versus actual temperatures in Aurora, IL to identify the pattern of increasing or decreasing on a bar graph. Then they did a lab which helped them deduce the mechanism of greenhouse gases.

Ask your student:

  • What Greenhouse gas is largest contributor to the rising temperatures? (CO2)
  • What can we do to limit this gas?

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STEMvironment-Monday: Habittrekking

STEMvironment-Monday: Habittrekking

This week in the Science strand (“S”TEMvironment) students will explore the habitat around the IMSA grounds, especially the IMSA pond. Their discovery started with reading “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss, which tells about the animals that lose their homes in the trees when the trees are cut down, and the fish that lose their homes when the water is polluted. The story may be fictional, but it is an all-too-real scenario today.

Students assembled and setup their Particle Collectors to gather data until Friday. These Particle Collectors were placed around the campus – near vents, in bathrooms, and outside. They then went habittrekking to observe the diversity and needs of the plants and animals that occupy our environment, and completed a data chart on the evidence they found.

Ask your student:

What is similar and what is different about the plants and animals you observed in the environment and those that are domesticated such as pets and potted plants?

STEMvironment: Saving the World one Worm at a Time


Saving the World one Worm at a Time

Get your green on as you explore how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is a part of everything around us. This program will give participants an integrated exposure to the various STEM fields and how they can be applied within an environmental context.

Explorations will include the chemistry of recycling, creating power from worms, and energy transfer. The week will culminate in an environmental engineering project where students will use these real-world STEM concepts to create their own energy-efficient home.