Halfway through!

Another steamy, hot, awesome day at See Blue STEM Camp! We’re thankful the weather has been cooperating this week, although this afternoon was not quite as fun to walk across campus in.

The red and blue groups were busy today with Dr. Thomas and making flying objects. They used the engineering design process and lots of mathematics (surface area) to create a flying object out of different types of materials and did some challenges around how far they could get it to fly. I’m sure they enjoyed showing you their creations tonight!

The green and yellow groups spent time with Dr. Cooper today in his lab with his graduate students and with the medical outreach center. They learned more deeply about the nervous system and how it works. Many of them brought home body tracings they did and some of the major nerve pathways drawn. They did some investigations around nerve impulses with crawfish and also talked about their own brains and nerves and what happens when you learn how to do something.

In robotics today, all four groups continued along with their challenges. They worked with sensors, loops, variables, and stringing more complex code together. They really enjoyed the different challenges. We love how persistent they were and how they are really problem solving through changing different variables to get the robot to do something different. It’s truly amazing with robotics (and other technology) that when they fail, they’re actually more motivated to fix it and get it right! This is truly a joy to watch during camp, especially their faces and the excitement for when they overcome a challenge. Tomorrow they will begin the First Lego League Challenge for this year. They are very eager to get started!

In their words…

  • There’s a variety of molds for planes
  • All airplanes are tilted a little bit, to fly.
  • I learned about airodynamics, physics, + thrust
  • That a plane need 4 diffrent forces to keep it in the air.
  • Aerodynamics and Lift, drag, trust, and weight.
  • The wings on the plane are bent down a little so the air molecules hit the underside of the wing violently to keep the plane up against gravity.
  • The toy poodle can detect missing people the best
  • That the brain controls more of your hand than any other body part
  • Once our body gets used to doing somehting we can multitask and forget the first thing.
  • I learned how craw fish are very sensitive on the tails.
  • I learn about how we hear differently than animals.

Conversation Starters

Red/Blue Groups:

  • What makes an airplane go into the air?
  • What did you take into consideration when you created your airplane? How did that work for you? What are some other things you tried?
  • What challenges did you complete in robotics today? What did you do to get your robot to go?

Yellow/Green Groups:

  • How do the brain and nervous system work together?
  • What is one of the most sensitive parts of the body? Why is it so sensitive?
  • What happens to the crawfish’s tail when you touch it?
  • What challenges did you complete in robotics today? What did you do to get your robot to go?

Photo of the Day…

Steamy STEM Fun!

We’re cruising right along this week. The students really have gotten into a nice groove already! They’ve really done well with teamwork and have conducted some great investigations already!

Today the blue and red groups ventured all the way across campus to discover things about their nervous system, look at the human organs in the medical science education center, and conduct some investigations around introreceptors, contracting muscles and other fun stuff!

The yellow and green groups took their turn with the UK engineering complex. Along with the different labs, they got to build some motors and use the engineering design process to investigate surface area and mass.

In robotics, both groups dove right into programming today! They started with some of our maze challenges and many jumped into the sensors and using the sensors. Tomorrow we have some more unique challenges up our sleeves! The students are paired up for the robotics and they have truly done a fabulous job of working together already! We always emphasize collaboration, taking turns, and talking through problem solving together; it’s really nice to see such great teamwork in action on Day 2 already!

In their words…

  • I learned you can create electricity with your arm
  • I learned that your fingers are more sensitive than your arm.
  • you have the ability to sense PH
  • Our muscles create electricity.
  • I really liked doing the crafrish activity because it gave a good understaing of sensitiveity + senses
  • I liked the tour becuase it explained alot about Engineering at UK.
  • most boats don’t sink because they have a large amount of volume
  • I liked going the the sound canceling room and the 3-D Printing room.

Conversation Starters

Red/Blue Groups

  • How do muscles in your arm move? What is the path of the signals?
  • How do you create electricity with your arm?
  • What was the most interesting thing you learned about the human organs today?
  • What did you want your robot to do today? How did you get your robot to do what you wanted it to do?

Yellow/Green Groups

  • Tell me about your plan for your boat you assembled today? What did you take into consideration? Did you change your plan at all?
  • What was your favorite part of the engineering tour? What did you learn about engineers today that you did not know before?
  • What did you want your robot to do today? How did you get your robot to do what you wanted it to do?

Photo of the Day…

Click the picture and it will take you to the weekly photo album. 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! If there is a photo you wish to have removed, please email me and we’ll take it down!

Week 2 off to a Somewhat Rainy, but Awesome Kick Off!

Wow! What a great first day everyone had…it rained at just the right moments…when all the students were where they needed to be! We are very excited to welcome 122 campers for week 2 this year! Although they were a bit quiet and timid this morning, we got them engaged right away and they are already coming out of their shells! Thanks so much for everyone’s assistance and patience this morning as we got all campers checked in!

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 students 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 have a goal to post a blog post each night this week with some highlights from the day and some conversation starters. [Admittedly, our family obligations have been great this summer, so I fell off the bandwagon last week 🙂 ] The conversation starters are meant to help you get over the “What did you learn today?” “Nothin’” or <shrugging the shoulders> we often see with our school-age students. We’ll also post a link to the photos we are taking throughout the week. 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.

Please make sure and check twitter throughout the day this week – https://twitter.com/SeeBlueSTEMCamp – we’ll post more pictures and updates throughout the day the rest of the week.

Red/Blue Groups

They spent half their day with Dr. Bruce Walcott, exploring the engineering complex, touring labs, learning how to build motors, and investigating surface area and mass. The students were amazed at all the different labs, but by far their favorite was the anechoic chamber! Many of the students also did not realize all the different types of engineers you can be…so many fields and so many opportunities!


Yellow/Green Groups

They spent half their day with Dr. Lisa Amick, building 3d models with 3d pens and paper folding! The students really enjoyed the challenge of the origami. It was fun to learn about how to fold the paper in different ways and to put the nets together to form the 3d shapes. 3d pens are always a big hit every year. Not only do they help students build their own models, they also tap into their creative side. They take a lot of pride and ownership in their creations! We love seeing the uniqueness of the students come out!

Robotics for all groups

Day 1 is building day. All the students are doing EV3 robots this year. Today they focused on building their robots and learning about how the different parts and pieces work together. Tomorrow they will dive into the programming and start some of our challenges. For the challenges, we use a blend of our own curriculum our robotics instructors have created and some of the FLL challenges, including the new one for this year.

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 🙂

  • I learned that civil engenreing was a thing
  • I learned that shapes can absorb sound.
  • How engieneers think to solve problems.
  • I didn’t know that 3-D pens existed
  • That a tetrahedron is made of triangles
  • Small shapes can make up very large shapes and I found that very fascinating.
  • I liked that we got to work in groups and how we learned in fun but productive ways.
  • geometry is all around us and I  want to learn more about my surroundings.

Conversation Starters… 

We know 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.” “I didn’t do anything.” So, each day we’ll post some suggested conversation starters centered on camp activities or STEM-related themes.

Blue/Red Groups

  • Tell me about your plan for your boat you assembled today? What did you take into consideration? Did you change your plan at all?
  • What was your favorite part of the engineering tour? What did you learn about engineers today that you did not know before?
  • Tell me about how you assembled your robot. What is your robot’s name? What do you think you will get your robot to do when you start programming it?

Yellow/Green Groups

  • What shapes did you use to put together your big origami shape? How did you know how to fit the pieces together?
  • What did you create with your 3d pen?
  • Tell me about how you assembled your robot. What is your robot’s name?What do you think you will get your robot to do when you start programming it?

Photo of the Day…

Each day we’ll post a camp highlight.  Click the picture and it will take you to the weekly photo album. 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! If there is a photo you wish to have removed, please email me and we’ll take it down!

<Stayed tuned…we’re having issues uploading pictures today>

Bridges to build and DNA to observe!

It was another exciting day in the life of a STEM and robotics camper! The sea of green and blue shirts were an awesome sight and generated some great buzz amongst the faculty and staff on campus! The students are doing a great job using their manners and were great listeners today.

Vex Robotics

The groups finished building the Clawbots today and dove into learning to code on RobotC. Some have had a little bit of experience on RobotC, but most have not. RobotC is different than most of the students’ prior computer programming experience, so it takes a little bit to get the hang of it. They will dive deeper into the coding tomorrow and dig into some great challenges! Overall, they have really enjoyed getting to learn about a different robot and one that requires more building and understanding of moving parts than compared to the EV3 or NXT robots.


Red/Blue Groups

They spent half of their day with Dr. Testa extracting DNA from a strawberry! They were very careful scientists with their tools and were amazed at what the DNA looked like! They also explored different types of DNA and how scientists use DNA to look at what living things are made of.

Yellow/Green Groups

It was bridge building day with Dr. Thomas! For a creative warm up, the students had to build the tallest free-standing structure they could, with very limited supplies. Then they moved on to bridge building, where they talked about supply and demand and material costs. After weighing through all their options, they had to build the sturdiest bridge with the cheapest cost. We had some amazing, creative, and sturdy bridges today!

Robotics for Elementary

All the technology was working today, so the camp staff were extra-thrilled! They got into some cool building challenges and really are getting the hang of programming their robot to do different things. There was lots of dancing, high-fives, and positive words and excitement throughout the day as their confidence increased with programming.

In their words…

  • I learned that you can get DNA out of things.
  • That everything that is on the world is made of the things on the periodic table.
  • The middle [of a bridge] is not the strongest part.
  • I learned to proberly (properly) + creadivly (creatively) bild (build) a bridge.
  • if the bridg(e) falls you can all ways fix it.
  • I learned about strcutures. and also learned to keep trying
  • that evrybody (everybody) has divrint (different) DNa’s.
  • that you can all ways fix it.
  • How to desighsin (design) different things.
  • Yes [I would like to learn more], because I want to see other fruit and people’s DNA.

Conversation Starters…

Yellow/Green 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?
  • How tall was your tower you built?
  • What did you want your robot to do today? How did you get your robot to do what you wanted it to do?

Red/Blue Groups

  • What is DNA?
  • What things have DNA?
  • How did you extract DNA from the strawberry?
  • What did it look like?
  • What did you want your robot to do today? How did you get your robot to do what you wanted it to do?

Vex Robotics

  • How different was it to build the Clawbot compared to the EV3 (or other robot they’ve built)? What kind of tools did you have to use?
  • How are you feeling about programming in RobotC? What makes it different from other computer programming you’ve done?
  • What did you want your robot to do today? How did you get your robot to do what you wanted it to do?

Picture of the Day…

Day 1 of Week 1 is in the books!

Wow! What a great first day everyone had! We are very excited to welcome 90 elementary campers and 62 Vex robotics campers this year! They’re quite the eager group and we’re thrilled to have them on UK’s campus! Thanks so much for everyone’s assistance and patience this morning as we got all 152 campers check in. It went as smooth as it could have and 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 students 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 with our school-age students. We’ll also post a link to the photos we are taking throughout the week. 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.

Please make sure and check twitter throughout the day this week – https://twitter.com/SeeBlueSTEMCamp – we’ll post more pictures and updates throughout the day the rest of the week.

Vex Robotics

Today was all about building and becoming familiar with the Vex system. The groups worked on building their chassis for the clawbot. Some groups also started trying some basic programming to get their clawbot to move. All the groups will be into the programming tomorrow, so expect more stories about how they’re getting their robots to move!

Red/Blue Elementary Groups

It was a robot day today for these groups! They spent half of their day with Dr. Walcott and Dr. Thomas building scribble bots from scratch. They learned about how motors worked, how electricity flows though the battery, and the importance of a cam on a motor. They had a lot of fun trying the bots out and even personalizing them a bit 🙂 The blue groups got put in their bags, so some didn’t make it home quite in one piece, but the students know how they are to be put together, so you can help with them that endeavor.

Yellow/Green Elementary Groups

They spent half of their day with Dr. Testa extracting DNA from a strawberry! They were very careful scientists with their tools and were amazed at what the DNA looked like! They also explored different types of DNA.

Robotics for Elementary Groups

In robotics, they are using the We Do 2.0 robots from Lego Education. UK switched over to a new wireless network last month and some of the Chromebooks had some issues, but we are happy to report that they’re all resolved and we’ll be back on track with devices tomorrow! The students were awesome with sharing devices and still getting their building in. Many of the students were able to program their robots and try out some of the basic different programs. Lots more fun challenges coming tomorrow!

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 🙂

  • That fruit has DNA
  • That I could see DNA if I do a few things
  • How to build a really cool robot that I have never built before
  • I liked it because theres a lout of creativity
  • I love chemistry
  • I want to learn more so I could see more DNAs

Conversation Starters… 

We know 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.” “I didn’t do anything.” So, each day we’ll post some suggested conversation starters centered on camp activities or STEM-related themes.

Blue/Red Groups

  • Tell me about how you assembled your scribble bot. What tools did you have to use carefully? How did you know how to connect things? What did your scribble bot do when you connected the motor to the battery?
  • Tell me about how you assembled your We Do robot? What is your robot’s name? What did you get your robot to do today?

Yellow/Green Groups

  • What is DNA? What things have DNA? How did you extract DNA from the strawberry? What did it look like?
  • Tell me about how you assembled your We Do robot? What is your robot’s name? What did you get your robot to do today?

Vex Robotics

  • What is a chassis? How did you get it built?
  • If they programmed today, what did they get their Clawbot to do?

Photo of the Day…

Each day we’ll post a camp highlight.  Click the picture and it will take you to the weekly photo album. 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! If there is a photo you wish to have removed, please email me and we’ll take it down!