Week 1 Rainy Day Kick Off!



Even with the rainy start today the day, there was quite the excitement and buzz in the air to kick off the first of our two weeks of 2017 UK See Blue STEM Camp! We are very excited to welcome 228 campers this year! One hundred twenty-eight of them started today! Registration went very well this morning and we really appreciate everyone’s patience as we had to move things inside because of the rain. You all are awesome!

Just a note about the consent and assent forms that we ask for every year. Our camp is subsidized by an NSF grant that requires research and reporting to the agency.  The purpose of the research is to develop a camp model that promotes STEM careers to adolescents and can be replicated. We also look at students attitudes towards STEM and the impact of our activities. Without this grant and consent and assent to participate the camp simply would not exist. We never report any names or any individual data…it’s always aggregated together! You can read about some of our work here.

We will post a blog post each night this week with some highlights from the day and some conversation starters. The conversation starters are meant to help you get over the “What did you learn today?” “Nothin’” or <shrugging the shoulders> we often see at the adolescent age. We’ll also post a link to the photos we are taking throughout the week (NOTE: my camera battery died tonight so most of the pictures will be uploading in the morning 🙂 ). If at any time you want a photo removed that is of your child, please let us know and we’ll be happy to take it down.

Yellow/Green Groups

Today the students split their time between Dr. Bruce Walcott and Dr. Isabel Escobar’s graduate students today. (If you like TED talks, you can view hers here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-wbHD77kMWE) In both sessions students were immersed in the wonderful world of engineering…using their hands to build and explore just as engineers do. In Dr. Walcott’s group, students got to build simple motors and talk about what electrical engineers do. They also tested out their design engineering skills by building a boat out of aluminum foil and seeing how many pennies it held. Dr. Escobar’s graduate students led the students through some fascinating polymer explorations today. They took polymers found in disposable diapers and used hydrochloric acid to break it back down, finding its saturation point. The students loved getting to explore and test!

Red/Blue Groups

Today the students got to experience mathematical modeling and bridge building with Dr. Thomas! They had a variety of supplies to choose from, but there were stipulations so they really had to get creative. Boy, they really did get creative! They got to test out their bridges as well.

All four groups…

In robotics, students started by engineering their robots. They got to build their robot and get to know it. They then start on some basic challenges of getting to move their robots…on a UK football field this year! They had to move their footballs forwards and backwards.

In their words… Each day we’ll post some excerpts from the students’ reflections of what they learned each day at the STEM Content session. We don’t correct for spelling or grammar in these 🙂 

BLUE & RED – Dr. Thomas

What did you learn about today that you did not know before?
  • I learned about how bridges support weight and how to hold up a tower.
  • I learned about structures and the best way to support budlings.
  • I learned that you always need to have a foundation.
  • How a beam can affect the rigidity of a bridge
    the weight of a paper clip can make a big difference
  • sometimes simpler things work better
  • I learned that a bridge need a strong cord.
GREEN & YELLOW -Drs. Walcott and Escobar
What did you learn about today that you did not know before?
  • That polymer could be your hair.
  • You can find the N and S pole of a magnet using a compass.
  • Polymers are molucules with repeating units.
  • That we can make polymer out of anything
  • that polymers are created from monomers linked together to make a pattern
  • That you could make a motor with wire, batteries, and magnets.

Conversation Starters… We know that your child is getting to the age where it might be like pulling teeth to get them to talk about their day beyond “It was fine.” “It was fun.” Each day we’ll post some suggested conversation starters centered on camp activities or STEM-related themes.

Yellow/Green – Drs. Walcott and Escobar:

  • Tell me about how you assembled your robot. Did you follow instructions? Did you just try to figure out what parts went together?
  • Is there a particular field of engineering that you think might interest you?
  • How many pennies did your boat hold? If you could build it again, what would you do differently?
  • What happened when you mixed the powder and water and turned it upside down?

Red/Blue Groups:

  • What do bridges need to be strong?
  • How did you decide what materials to use for your bridge?
  • How did you decide on your design for your bridge?
  • How did your bridge do when you tested it?
  • Tell me about how you assembled your robot. Did you follow instructions? Did you just try to figure out what parts went together?

Photo of the Day… Each day we’ll post a camp highlight. Click here to go to the pictures. Please note that we try to capture pictures of all the campers, but we cannot guarantee that we will get every single one. We try our very best to though! Also we are STEM teachers and not full time photographers, so our pictures are not perfect and we leave them unedited, so if you love to edit photos…feel free! 

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