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

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


Day 5 – Working towards a sustainable future

IMG_1630On the final day of camp, Dr. Leslie Vincent, from the College of Business, kept the students very busy investigating sustainable solutions and dreaming up big ideas. They had the opportunity to do some team building activities including another bridge building activity, which was a nice extension from what Dr. Jong did with them yesterday. The students were IMG_1583immersed in “design thinking” as they came up with their dream sustainable product.

For the final day in Robotics, the students had mini-competitions…with themselves. Instead of doing a full competition, the students worked on completing the individual challenges for Green City. We saw lots of dams IMG_1662being broken down, smoke stacks being replaced, etc. The students really seemed to enjoy robotics this week and learned a lot.

We took some video today and we’ll try to get it uploaded by Monday at the latest. We really enjoyed this group of campers and we hope that they will consider coming to the See Blue STEM Camp next year!


Day 4 – What’s Math Got to do with it?

IMG_1527Today the campers got down and dirty with marshmallows, toothpicks, and paper in order to explore three-dimensional geometry. Dr. Cindy Jong, from the Dept of STEM Education challenged the students to see mathematics in everyday life through a bridge activity and then furthered the exploration with origami. The students were so excited they even worked through lunch on their origami figures!

IMG_1570In robotics, the students continued with their Green City Challenges. Today they focused on starting the windmill, placing a solar panel on a rooftop, and tearing down a dirty smoke stack and replacing it with a clean one.

The campers have really settled into their routines nicely! It’s hard to believe we only have one day left!! We did a better job of taking pictures today so click here to see the new additions!


Day 3 Got flies?

Day 3 brought a very nice follow-up to Day 2’s brain activities! The students got to go over to the biology laboratory with Dr. Robin Cooper from the College of Arts and Sciences to explore animal behavior and sensory systems. They experimented with the five senses using fruit flies – looking at how they function in various conditions. The students collected data on mouth movements of the larvae and other data regarding the sense using the lab microscopes. They also completed experiments involving their own neurobiology and the five senses.

In robotics the students have started the Green City Challenge.  This started with trying to block the dam of the city. On Thursday they will continue with windmills, solar panels, etc. The kids are really excited about the challenges and have really enjoyed programming and testing their programs – it’s great to see the engineering practices at work!

Did you know that the See Blue STEM Camp not only benefits your student, but students of UK as well? We are very fortunate this year to have graduate students from STEM Education, Engineering, and Biology help out with the presentations. They are learning a lot about working with adolescents as well as sharpening their presentation skills. We also have a few preservice mathematics teachers helping us out this week and next week; they have gained invaluable hands-on experiences in working with middle school students!

Click below for updated pictures

STEM Camp pics