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):

  • ​I 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):

  • ​​Seaweed 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)

  • ​I 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)
  • ​​I 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

IMG_2200 copy

Red and Blue Groups at Center for Applied Energy Research

IMG_4651 copy 2

Day 1 is in the books!

stem camp 2014_edited-1After the longest school year in a while and some other area camps, it is finally time for the 2014 See Blue STEM Camp! We are so excited to have 144 campers this year…together…at the same time…in the same week (Craig and I may be greyer by the end of the week 🙂 )! Registration went very smooth this morning and we appreciate everyone’s patience in getting all the forms turned in, etc. You all rock!

We will post a blog post each night with some highlights from the day and some conversation starters. We’ll also post a link to the photos we are taking throughout the week.

Today the blue and red groups (rising 5-6th graders) headed to Dr. Robin Cooper’s (Dept of Biology) laboratory to do some neurobiology experiments today. They got to use iPads (Backyard Brains app – it’s free!) to collect data about muscle movements. Additionally they built some structures out of pipe cleaners that you should ask them about. Most of them fit in their sack packs and so you should be able to have them talk to you about it.

The yellow and green groups (rising 7th-8th graders) got to experience different aspects of nanotechnology with Dr. Brett Criswell from the Dept of STEM Education. They conducted several mini-experiments and were pretty wowed over by many of them! He was a definite favorite amongst the students today…hopefully the rest of the presenters live up to the high bar he has set today!

In robotics, both groups started by reverse engineering their robots. They were given a fully assembled robot and they had to disassemble it and re-assemble it. They always love this part, but we’re eager to continue moving them on to basic programming challenges. This year, the red and blue groups will be working with the NXT robots and the Green City Challenge. The yellow and green groups will be working with the EV3 robots and the newly-released Space Challenge. The yellow and green groups got a glimpse at the new programming software today and so that was pretty exciting for them.

We got so excited about watching the kids robots take shape that we forgot to snap some robotics pictures! We promise to do better tomorrow.

Your kids will be working in groups all week long. The robotics groups are teams of 2 and will stay the same all week long, while the other groups formed will vary throughout the week. As the “real world” continues to become more team-work oriented, we want to help our students grow in that direction as well. We hope your child gets to work with a variety of students this week and in turn meets some great new friends!

In their words… – Each day we’ll post some excerpts from the students’ reflections of what they learned each day at the content session.

What I learned today…

  • Muscles contract and relax. When you get a muscle disease your muscles start to slow down and your heart stops and you can’t breathe. People who get it have to wear masks to breathe for them. I learned that you can record electrical activity from insects. (red/blue group)

  • I learned about how muscles work. That energy comes from your body. You could record energy going through your muscles. I did not know anything about muscles, but now I know about myosins. (red/blue group)

  • I found out that calcium chlorine and antacid make orbs. I learned that things that absorb water don’t absorb oil or vice versa. You can make magic sand water proof. I learned more about chemicals and chemical reactions. (green/yellow group)

  • Plants have waxy leaves to self clean. Peaches reflect water because of the peach fuzz. I learned about the practical uses of nanotechnology in everyday life, particularly when it comes to manipulating liquids. I learned that some materials repel water molecules. Nanotechnology and how it’s a world too small for the naked human eye to see.  (green/yellow group)

What did you like about what you learned today…

  • My muscles conduct electricity. Seeing electricity in my arm with the iPad. It was awesome! Everything! I learned a lot and i really enjoyed it! The myosin heads and how they work. (red/blue group)

  • It is really cool to know college/high school level stuff. I liked testing my biceps with the meter. That muscles have electrical activity. (red/blue group)

  • It was interesting and fun. I liked being able to use my hands in everything. I actually enjoyed everything. I enjoyed how it was hands on and not just sitting and listening. (yellow/green group)

  • The magic sand repelled water. Everything, but the fabric and with special fibers was my favorite. I liked that we actually got to experiment. The experiments were cool and hands on. What i liked about nanotechnology was when the spheres expanded and when we took them out. i liked everything we did. I liked playing with the “magic” green sand. I thought it was very cool the way it worked.  (yellow/green group)

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.

Red/Blue Groups (rising 5-6th graders):

  • I didn’t realize my body could conduct electricity…tell me more about that!
  • What was the pipe cleaner structure that you built? Tell me more about it.
  • What kind of tests did you conduct on your muscles? What were you testing? What were you looking for?

Yellow/Green Groups (rising 7-8th graders):

  • 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’ve never heard about that. Tell me more!

Photo of the Day… – Each day we’ll post a photo collage highlight. Clicking on the picture will also link to all of the pictures taken at camp. Please note that we try to capture pictures of all of the campers, but we cannot guarantee that we will get every single one. We try our very best too! 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! (We did not do very well with posting to Twitter and taking photos today, but we promise to do better tomorrow!)

Collage day 1


Fruit Flies, Fighting Robots, Oh my!!

Today the students got to go across campus to the Old Pharmacy building that has now been converted into a “multidisciplinary building” that houses several biology laboratories, including Dr. Robin Cooper’s. Dr. Cooper and several of his graduate students led the students through a series of different experiments involving neuroscience, specifically our senses and the sense of fruit flies. Students explored heart rates using sensors and computer programming – they were able to see an echocardiogram of their heart. They analyzed their heart rates at rest and when they were excited.

They also worked with fruit flies, conducting a variety of experiments with them. They gathered data and analyzed their results to produce scientific conclusions. One of their favorite experiments was inducing a coma:

Robotics proved to be exciting today with the mini-challenges over and the rings taped on the floor…it was “fighting” time today! The students took turns having their robots competing against each other…the last robot standing won! Most of the competitions were one vs. one, but I heard through the grapevine there were about 6 robots competing against each other at one point…

In their words… We ask the students the three questions below each day…here are some of their answers.

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


  • That your heart rate changes when your scared rather than relaxed.
  • Flys can last 3 hours in cold temperatures
What did you like about what you learned today?


  • I made flies pass out…
  • I thought that looking at fruit flies’ behaviors was really neat because you could learn about why it is that they do the things they do.
Would you like to learn more about this topic?  Why or why not?
    • Yes, if I want to be a surgeon this will be vital to my success

Conversation Starters…

  • What are the rules of the sumorobots competition? How do you win? Do you program your robot for different moves or how do you take out your opponent? 
  • What does the light sensor on the robot do?
  • What did you learn about your heart?
  • What was the most interesting experiment you did on the fruit flies? What did you learn from it?
  • How long was your fruit fly in its coma?
  • Has this camp made you think about a career in mathematics, science, technology, or engineering? Why or why not?

Video of the Day…

Don’t forget about the pictures we have here! Can you believe tomorrow is the last day!!??

Building a Sustainable Future

What does it take to make a water bottle? How long does it take for a water bottle to decompose? What are companies doing to make their water bottles more environmentally friendly? What EXACTLY does it mean to be sustainable?

These are some of the questions your students had to think about as they worked with Dr. Leslie Vincent, an assistant professor from the Gatton College of Business. Dr. Vincent showed them the power of the media through a variety of pictures and asking the students for their reactions. They learned about sustainability, what makes a product sustainable, what a sustainable future could look like, and even got to design a sustainable product. In order to get their creative juices flowing, the students worked in teams to build a bridge out of newspaper and masking tape. The bridges had to be a certain height and the goal was to hold a gallon jug of water on their bridget for 10 seconds without collapsing. The students had a great time designing and building their bridges and we got the competition on video that we will be posting tonight after the uploads finish. We also were able to capture their innovative product presentations and we’ll be sharing those with you as well. You have some very creative students!!

In robotics, they continued with their sumorobot challenges in preparation for Thursday and Friday’s competitions. The students are really enjoying the different challenges and are really using their engineering practices to problem solve their way through the challenges.

In their words…

  • Pizza boxes are recycled boxes.
  • How much water and trees and other natural materials are wasted from bad eggs and pizza boxes.
  • I learned that billion of eggs are wasted per year because some are cracked before purchased, therefore the whole carton is wasted.
  • Many companies are working on sustainable products.
  • Cooperation is the key to making a product.

Conversation starters…

  • Tell me about the cracked eggs…
  • What is sustainability?
  • How did you work with your team to build your bridge? How long did your bridge stand? What were some of the challenges in building your bridge? How did you plan your bridge out?
  • Tell me about the product you designed. Do you think someone would buy your product? What makes your product sustainable?

Video of the Day… CLICK HERE!

Don’t forget to check out the pictures updated daily for glimpses of what your students are doing!