Make your own gak, anechoic chambers, and new challenges!

File Jun 11, 5 17 00 PMThursday was another eventful day at See Blue STEM Camp. The students are really engaging well with the content and material and the loudness of the chatter is increasing exponentially, which we view as a good thing. They usually come in pretty quiet and reserved at the beginning of the week, and as they get more comfortable with their groups, the structure of the camp, etc., they really start to come out of their shells. STEM Camp has a knack for bringing out the smiles and voices of even the ones who don’t usually talk!

The Blue and Red groups got to explore the wide and wonderful world of engineeringIMG_1856 today with Dr. Bruce Walcott, a professor in electrical engineering and one of the co-founders of STEM Camp. The students dove deeper today into the design engineering process they learned about on Monday and got to apply it further through small investigations. From a lesson on buoyancy to building small generators to looking at how sound waves move, many were inspired to consider a career in engineering. They got to tour the engineering complex and several of the laboratories where the UK students and faculty really get to build and test their ideas. They got to talk to the UK students and faculty; our students asked them some great questions! The favorite on the tour again today was the anechoic chamber!

The Yellow/Green Groups explored and learned about materials science today with Dr. Brett Criswell, a science education faculty member in our Department of STEM Education. He kept them very busy the entire time, conducting mini experiments, testing their hypotheses, discovering electrical properties of different mediums via squishy circuits, and even got to make their own gak! If the cornstarch in your pantry goes missing, you might check your child’s room… ūüôā

IMG_0774In robotics today, each group started their challenge…red and blue groups started the Green City challenge which focuses on ideas around sustainability and energy. The yellow and green groups started the Space Challenge today which focuses on ideas around physical science and astronomy. Since it was new, there were some frustrations, but as they got the hang of the concept of the new challenges, there was some great excitement in the air. All are looking forward to the final day tomorrow where they will really get to put all of their skills together for some more complex programming.

It’s hard to believe tomorrow’s the last day! We sure have enjoyed having them this week. They are truly a great group this year!

In their words…

Red/Blue Groups

What did you learn about today that you did not know before?

  • that it is possible to create a room without echos
  • that slinkies have different sound waves
  • I learned how a boat floats
  • that concrete could float
  • dencity and how it works [sic]
  • how engineers solve their problem
What did you like about what you learned today?
  • learning about echolocation
  • making aluminum foil float
  • I love engineering!
  • calculus
  • how we got to build a genorator [sic]
IMG_1868Yellow/Green Groups
What did you learn about today that you did not know before?
  • glue+water+Borax = Slime!
  • I learned about how to make electricity out of playdough, the different sands and how to make goo
  • That kinetic sand can’t absorb water in any way
    that scientists have to catigor things based on structur and characteristics [sic]
  • what material science is, how to make silly putty, different kinds of sand
  • that you could make a solid out of water and glue
  • You can make putty using borax, water, and glue. Also, magic sand is hydrophobic (water resistant)
What did you like about what you learned today?
  • Getting to make my own gak. An learning about the field of material science
  • I liked that I got to keep this gooey stuff and you could bounce it
  • you can turn corn startch into science
  • I liked making all the slime
  • the scientists can use the materials to make better modified items to change and solve problems
  • materials science is awesome. I’d like to learn how to make more mixtures

Conversation starters…

Blue/Red Groups:

  • What was your favorite part about the engineering tour today?
  • What is an anechoic chamber?
  • How many pennies did your boat hold? If you could build it again, what would you do differently? (The red group didn’t have time to get to this today)
  • Is there a particular field of engineering that you think might interest you?
  • What challenges did you work today in programming your robot for the Green City?

Yellow/Green Groups:

  • What is materials science? What makes it special?
  • You did an experiment with several different types of sand today…what were you trying to figure out? Did your results match your hypothesis?
  • I heard you watched a really cool video about corn starch…can you tell me about it?
  • What is so special about the Gak you made…and wait, you made gak!!??
  • What challenges did you work today in programming your robot for the Space Challenge?

Photo of the Day… (Click here to view the photos and click here to view the videos we’ve been able to get uploaded). Our teacher leaders are rocking the Twitter world this week, so don’t forget to follow us throughout the day!

See Blue STEM Camp was featured on UKNow today…you can read more about it here!

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Brains, 3d pens, and robots…oh my!

CHKFD7EWgAEes_UDay 3 was so intense and great I don’t even know where to start! One teacher leader from the Yellow/Green groups summed up our thoughts pretty well:¬†From programming a robot to handling a human heart: that’s pretty good breadth of experience for a day.¬†

Today the Yellow and Green Groups got to visit Dr. Robin Cooper’s biology laboratory where they were immersed into the world of stereology. They learned about tumor sizes, especially how they determine them from 2-dimensional slices such as from a MRI machine. They also got to practice 3d modeling using Sketchup today. Then they got to handle some human organs, including the brain, use an EMG to discover electricity in their muscles, and talk about the human body in general through the outreach center.

The red and blue groups got to experience the world of mathematical modeling with Dr. Jen Eli today. They heard the buzz about this session yesterday, so many were very excited about today. They first got to work on their mathematical vocabulary and communicating with a partner through a series of short challenges. Then they dove right in to 3 dimensional figures and used 3D pens to create models of figures such as pyramids, tetrahedron, and even some did the dodecahedron! They really enjoyed using the 3D pens and seeing how the world of modeling has opened up with recent technology devices such as the 3D pens coming down in price.

In robotics today, all four groups continued to work on their challenge mats. We had¬†lots of successes today and the students are feeling confident going into their challenges tomorrow. The most favorite mat has definitely been the “K mat” where the students get the robot to spell out C-A-T-S (and when achieved there areIMG_1835 lots of “CATS CATS CATS” shouts of joy ūüôā ). Tomorrow, the yellow and green groups will be doing the Space Challenge and the red and blue groups will be doing the Green City Challenge.

In their words…

Yellow/Green Groups

What did you learn about today that you did not know before?
  • The leg has the most pulses
  • I learned that they take a picture of different sections of the brain to comoe up with the size of a tumor. [sic]
  • I learned about different parts of the organ and different diseases.
  • How the brain works and about the different brain sections.
  • That there is air and water in ur head¬†[sic]
  • I learned about the human body, lie detector tests, the brai, and what foods have in it.
  • Sick hearts actually get larger.
  • I didn’t know kidey made urine¬†[sic]
  • I learn about the differences of a healthy heart and a heart that’s sick
What did you like about what you learned today?
  • I like that I can use this in real life
  • I liked learning about the human body, also I liked touching the preserved organs.
  • It is something I could use in my career
  • I got to play on sketchup and see lots of things
  • It was fun to hold the organs, and the people were very willing to answer questions. I was never bored.

IMG_0748Red/Blue Groups

What did you learn about today that you did not know before?
  • I learned about a hexagonal prism.
  • How to use a 3 dimensional pen and how to draw connected cubes
  • that you can melt plastic safly¬†[sic]
  • I learned how to draw 3-D shapes with isonic paper.
  • That there was more 3d shapes than regular
What did you like about what you learned today?
  • It was really fun to draw cubes and 3 dimensional shapes on 2d objects
  • I liked using 3-D pens
  • how to use math for archutechual things¬†[sic]
  • it was really hands on

Conversation Starters…

Yellow/Green Groups

  • How big do tumors actually get? How do they know how big they are?
  • What was your favorite organ to learn about and touch? Why?
  • What did you find out when you did the EMG?
  • What challenges did you work on today in robotics? How comfortable are you with the programming now? What did you get your robot to do today?

Red/Blue Groups

  • What polyhedra did you build today with your 3D pen?
  • How successful were you and your partner at communicating during the mathematical challenges today?
  • What challenges did you work on today in robotics? How comfortable are you with the programming now? What did you get your robot to do today?
  • What was your favorite part about using the 3D pen?

Photo of the Day…¬†(Don’t forget to click here to see all the camp photos; and here to follow our twitter feed – no account required!)

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Ending on a high note!

IMG_2384 copyIt’s hard to believe that we’re already at the end of the week! Today was an even busier day since it was the end of the week and the students¬†were extra alive today from all the activity this week. The blue and red and groups got to experience Dr. Brett Criswell’s wonderful awe-inspiring world of nanotechnology. From experimenting with peach fuzz and different types of plants, to talking about polymer-chains found in over-the-counter indigestion medicines, the students were taken to the teeny tiny world of nano-land. They had a great time conducting different experiments and even remembered such things as Congo Red! In robotics, they wrapped up an awesome week with finishing many challenges in the green city challenges. There were lots of screams of excitement, joy, and high fives going around as the students became more communicative within their groups and more confident in their programming skills. We tried to capture some video of it today. Clicking on the video will take you to our YouTube Channel where you can view more videos from today.

IMG_2359 copyThe yellow and green groups got to experience the wonderful world of engineering with our resident engineering expert, Dr. Bruce Walcott. The students got to tour the engineering complex at UK and got to go into many of the different laboratories that UK College of Engineering has. There were faculty and graduate students onsite in the laboratories so they were able to show the students some of their latest research discoveries and experiments and let the students tinker with some of the lab materials as well. Seeing real research happening is always inspiring to the students and they really ask great questions that sometimes even stump the researchers! Of course the favorite again was the sound proof room. I’m not sure what it is about that room, but they always enjoy it! They also built mini motors and talked about simple machines with Dr. Walcott. They really enjoyed the various engineering design activities and applying their content skills. They ended their engineering time with some teamwork activities, including the favorite Hula Hoop Challenge. Students often forget that in the real world, most of our work is done in teams and communication is vitally important. So the students had a great time learning to communicate and talk to each other more.

IMG_2361 copyLego robotics for the yellow and green groups was much more successful today. We even had a couple of groups do all the challenges on the Space Challenge! The Space Challenge and EV3 programming is definitely a lot different from the NXT programming, so some were frustrated a couple of days ago, but were much more confident today. It was such a joy to watch them grow over the past week in this area. They really enjoyed the Space Challenge…it is definitely more complex than the Green City they were used to before!

We all had such a great and enjoyable week with the students. It would not at all have been possible without the tremendous staff that we had this year! I had a bit of a panic moment when (because of snow days) we decided to combine both camps into one week; but some quick creative thinking brought on an awesome opportunity for our preservice teachers in our middle and secondary programs and our doctoral students at UK. Some of the college students took a Robotics class with me prior to camp starting and assisted Mark Evans and Robbie Randall in the robotics rooms and some of the college students just wanted to help out with the camp. I would like to take the opportunity to introduce you to and thank our staff this year.

We have a great group of graduate students in the STEM Education department at UK and these 5 are no exception!

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L-R Back – Kayla Blyman, Floyd Broughton, Thomas Roberts; L-R Front – Maranda Miller, Marla Lemmon

Our inservice teachers are priceless! Robbie and Mark take the lead on the robotics, Brooke (Green Group), Tavin (Yellow Group), Megan (Blue Group), and Candice (Red Group) were our team leaders this year, of course Craig is the inventor, creator, and director of the See Blue STEM Camp. The camp is a way for our inservice teachers to stay connected to the university, provide high quality mentoring to the preservice teachers involved, and even have the opportunity to engage and learn new content and materials alongside the students.

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L-R Back – Robbie Randall (Beaumont MS), Mark Evans (Jessie Clark MS), Candice Cprek (Henry Clay HS); L-R Front – Brooke Powers (Beaumont MS), Tavin Feheley (Jessie Clark MS), Craig Schroeder (Beaumont MS). Not pictured – Megan Vogel (Tates Creek MS)

Since we were going to 1 week with 144 students, we knew we had needed to have more help. It was an obvious choice to offer the opportunity to the preservice (future teachers) middle and secondary mathematics and science students in our College. Through this unique experience, they got to work with the students in a smaller, low-stakes setting that allowed them to really practice their classroom management skills, their questioning techniques, and work on developing appropriate relationships with students. They were mentored through this process by the high quality inservice teachers as well as the college faculty we had involved. Although they were exhausted by the end of the week, they all stated this was the best learning experience they have had thus far and really enjoyed the opportunity to grow as future educators and felt they gained a lot of STEM content knowledge alongside the students as well.

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L-R Back – Andre Henderson, Brian True, Alex Freeman, William Schooler, Michael Delfino, Eric Garwood, Zeke Edwards; L-R Middle – Ben Wolfe, Maria Richards, Brittney Denton, Lydia Speler, Amy Allen, Tyler Waters, Chris Rogers, Clay Rehmel, Shelby Cameron; L-R Front Row Katherine Poe, Alanna Briggs, Jamie Kosel, Michael Plas

Craig, myself, Christa Jackson, Mark Evans, Gabe Brown, and Bruce Walcott are the team that make up the directors of the camp. We do everything from logistics to food to parent communication to anything else that needs to be done to help things run smoothly.

L-R Craig Schroeder, Christa Jackson, and Margaret Schroeder; Not pictured- Mark Evans, Bruce Walcott, and Gabe Brown
L-R Craig Schroeder, Christa Jackson, and Margaret Schroeder; Not pictured- Mark Evans, Bruce Walcott, and Gabe Brown (they were making sure everything was running smoothly while we were snapping pictures!)

Conversation starters…

Red and Blue Groups

  • What is nanotechnology?
  • What kinds of things repel water? Why do they need to repel water?
  • How do you make magic sand?
  • Peaches reflect water? I‚Äôve never heard about that. Tell me more!
  • What challenge(s) did you complete in the Green City Challenge?
  • How do you and your partner(s) work together to program and complete the challenges?
  • What was your favorite part about STEM Camp?
  • Out of all the things you learned this week, what was the most interesting?
  • What career do you want to pursue when you get older? What kinds of classes are you going to need to take in order to be successful in your career?

Yellow and Green Groups

  • What is a sound proof room? What makes it sound proof?
  • What was your favorite lab you visited? What made it your favorite?
  • What challenge(s) did you complete in the Space¬†Challenge?
  • How do you and your partner(s) work together to program and complete the challenges?
  • What was your favorite part about STEM Camp?
  • Out of all the things you learned this week, what was the most interesting?
  • What career do you want to pursue when you get older? What kinds of classes are you going to need to take in order to be successful in your career?

Video¬†of the Day‚Ķ¬†This video really exemplifies why we do this and why we feel it’s important for students to have these opportunities.

Check out the Camp Pictures here

Check out videos Here

Don‚Äôt forget to follow us on Twitter ‚Äst@seebluestemcamp

We thank you for a wonderful week with your students and hope you have an enjoyable rest of the summer!

Next year’s camp dates are tentatively set for June 8 Р12, 2015 at the University of Kentucky Colleges of Education and Engineering for rising 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. 


We made it through Hump Day!

IMG_2591It was yet another busy, fun-filled, informative day at the See Blue STEM Camp! The Yellow and Green Groups loaded up the buses and headed out to the Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER)¬†today while the red and blue groups remained on campus for a day of robotics and mathematical modeling with Dr. Cindy Jong. The yellow and green groups really enjoyed their time at CAER and learned A LOT. They came home with some paving stones that they made themselves and learned about the chemical reactions between concrete and cement…be sure to ask them about it! If the stones start to crack put a little water on them as that should help it as it cures. Since they were out at CAER today there was no robotics for them.

IMG_2868The red and blue groups had a great time doing some mathematical modeling with Dr. Cindy Jong. I always love having the students experience “pure mathematics” because most come in sullen that they “have to do” mathematics and then they realize that math can be engaging and fun! They first talked about 3D structures and had the opportunity to build with some sticks and balls manipulatives trying to figure out the varying strengths of different configurations. Then they learned what origami had to do with math. They made origami cubes and some even got to the crane today. They were all very excited by the end!

In robotics they worked on programming. They learned how to do a 180 degree turn, complete the parking lot challenge and the square challenge. They learned that not all robots are created equal and had fun figuring out which variables (math!) had to be changed in order to get their robot to do what they wanted it to do. That completes the basics for them so tomorrow they will start on the Green City Challenge.

IMG_4720 copyTomorrow we’ll all be back together on campus…we have deemed tomorrow Engineering Day! The students will spend most of their¬†time in the engineering complex tomorrow…it’s usually one of the favorites!



In their words…

Mathematical Modeling (red and blue groups):

  • ‚ÄčI learned about polyhedrons.
  • I liked doing the¬†origami crane.
  • I really liked that my bridge didn’t break.
  • I liked how we got to build 3D shapes.
  • Yes, because I would like to build bridges when I grow up.

CAER (yellow and green groups):

  • ‚Äč‚ÄčSeaweed can be made into fuel and is edible.
  • A lot¬†of the information we learned today could benefit us in the real world. ¬†Some of the information we learned could inspire us to be¬†scientist
  • I find this very applicable to real life situations.
  • Yes, because I like science and I wish to work here one day.
  • About how many biofuels like algae can consume carbon-dioxide and create any fuel.
  • I liked learning these things today because It will help my future.

Conversation Starters…

Yellow and Green Groups:

  • What did you learn on your energy walk today?
  • Where does Kentucky rank in comparison to the other states in energy usage? Why is our ranking so high when we have such a low population?
  • What in the world is Flocculation?
  • I always thought that cement dried…what happens to it if it doesn’t dry? What is it actually doing?
  • What was your favorite part of going to the Center for Applied Energy Research?

IMG_4681 copyRed and Blue Groups:

  • What does origami have to do with math?
  • What kind of shapes did you use in building your bridge?
  • How did you get your cube together without using tape or glue?
  • Why is mathematical modeling important?

Picture of the Day…¬†Don’t forget that clicking the picture will take you to all the pictures we took today!

Collage Day 3

Getting down and dirty on Day 2

IMG_4638 copyThere was an exciting buzz in the air this morning with the red and blue groups eager to go on their field trip to the Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER)! The day definitely lived up to their expectations as they got to explore many different aspects of energy and energy consumption in Kentucky in particular. The students interacted with nearly 25 of CAERs research faculty and staff in their laboratories. They brought home a handmade paving stone. Be sure to ask them about the properties and differences of concrete and cement! The stones will need a few days to cure…if it gets a little crumbly or starts to crack, some water on the top should help that out while it cures. The students spent all day out there so there was no robotics for them today.

Bq6bol2CcAERAL6IMG_2210 copyMeanwhile back on main campus the students had a fun and exciting day with Dr. Uneeda Bryant, from UK Veterinary Science. At last year’s camp, this group of students experience medicine from the human side and so this year we decided to give students exposure to the animal side of medicine. Dr. Bryant brought a great energy to the classroom and got the students very excited about pigs!¬†The students loved the exploratory activity and were even more excited to get to touch and experiment with some of the other animal items she brought with her. I think there were a lot of eyes opened to different side of medicine that many had not considered before!

IMG_2146 copyIMG_2147 copyRobotics today for the yellow and green group meant a lot of time learning how to program. They are using the EV3s this year and the programming looks different than the NXTs. There was quite a learning curve with it, but it was so much fun to watch them catch on to programming and try to get their robots to go in a square and follow a line using the color sensor. They also explored the ultrasonic sensor and some got to the medium motor today as well.

It was another adventorous day for the students and the staff. We love having them on campus! It brings such energy and life to the building that is sometimes lost and forgotten in the late spring and early summer. The red and blue groups are eager to return to robotics and build some bridges tomorrow with Dr. Cindy Jong while I know the yellow and green groups are excited about their field trip to CAER. Don’t forget long pants and closed toed shoes!

In their words…

Veterinary (yellow and green groups)

  • ‚ÄčI liked dissecting the pig because I am now interested in being a pathologist.
  • It was hands on and new
  • I would like to learn more about this topic because it will help me if I choose to become a biologist.
  • That we actually got to dissect a pig!
CAER (red and blue groups)
  • ‚Äč‚ÄčI learned things that I had never even heard of before.
  • It was fun I liked the stones.
  • Many things like coal ashes can be recycled and turned into something new.
  • That not just the person teaching was doing it we all were.
  • That was FUN!

Conversation Starters…

IMG_6184 copyRed and Blue Groups

  • What did you learn on your energy walk today?
  • Where does Kentucky rank in comparison to the other states in energy usage? Why is our ranking so high when we have such a low population?
  • What in the world is Flocculation? (hint – pictured here)
  • What was your favorite part of going to the Center for Applied Energy Research?

Yellow and Green Groups

  • What did you like or not like about dissecting the pig today? (Some did not like it so it would be good to talk to them about why…especially some of them mentioned to us that they wanted to go into medicine but did not like dissection at all.)
  • What did you learn about pathology and veterinary science?
  • How did you like programming the EV3 robots? How did you know what to change when you were trying to make your robot go in a square?

Photo of the Day…¬†

We took our group photos today so there are two…click either one to get to the photo gallery. We did a much better job of capturing photos and tweeting today…thank you for your patience!

Yellow and Green Groups at Memorial Hall

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Red and Blue Groups at Center for Applied Energy Research

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