Exploration Tuesday!

We had another fabulous day at STEM Camp! The sea of green looked awesome walking across campus, especially since freshmen registration and orientation started today all across campus!

The red and blue groups had a fabulous day with Dr. Walcott in the College of Engineering. They learned about the different types of engineering (Dr. Walcott likes to call them flavors) and toured several of the research labs where the graduate students showed them the latest research they were working on with the professors. They also made robots today called Scribble Bots…the students had a blast building their robots and learning about circuits. They may need some hope taking the battery in and out as the case is really tight for it.

The yellow and green groups took a turn in Dr. Cooper’s lab today with him and his graduate students! Many came home with tracings of their body – they traced themselves and then drew pathways of the nervous system. They then did some investigations with sensitivity, the nervous system, and crawfish. They also visited the medical education center where they looked at different human organs, some were diseased and some were healthy. The students were surprised at how heavy the brain was!

In robotics, all groups dove right into programming today. They learned about the FLL challenge they’ll be doing on Thursday and goals for programming this week. They started on the maze challenge and color sensor challenge. Tomorrow they will start stringing more code together and adding on different sensors.

In their words…

  • By making a lobsided moter it creates more vibration.
  • That non-flat walls take away or capture more sound then flat walls, flat walls make an echo
  • that dead brains look disgusting
  • I learned about nuerons and synapse
  • heat can change when you take your hands off nose
  • I didn’t know that the signals from the brain react to your body when you get hurt.
  • that crawdads have a tail reflex

Conversation Starters… 

Red/Blue Groups

  • 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 scribble bot. How did you know how to connect things? What did your scribble bot do when you connected the motor to the battery? What does the glue stick on the end of the motor do?
  • 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:

  • 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?

Photo of the Day…

Taking Flight and Solar Energy!

Another great day is in the books! The students got a lot of walking today as they were in the beautiful Don & Cathy Jacobs Science Building. The building is our newest academic building on campus and the science labs in there are always a treat for our students to do their investigations.

Today the red and blue groups were with Dr. Graham from the Department of Chemistry. He had them explore solar cells and how different materials used in solar cells compare. They also got to investigate how batteries work and made their own battery!


The green and yellow groups took their turn at flight school, looking at the mathematics and physics of airplanes with Dr. Thomas. They made a variety of different types of airplanes to investigate different effects. They had fun flying the planes and making predications about what was going to happen!

In robotics, the students started the FLL challenge today. In the FLL challenge, they take their programming knowledge to the next level by adding more sensors, multiple loops, and sequences to complete a challenge task. The students really enjoy the trial and error and of course the end result when their code works! The yellow and green group had a special treat today; they got to meet a local robot celebratory, Marty!

In their words…

  • we learng that air pockets create drag
  • That the position of weight on an airplane effects how it flies
  • … I find physics and aerodynamics fascinating
  • This is because I solved a problem by building something with my own mind. – This made me feel innovative.
  • I learned that all 4 dimensions of a plane equal out.
  • I learned that planes need drag, pull, and force to be level in the sky.
  • I learned that glliders are designed to go slightly downhill. I was really cool to see how physics has a part in paper airplanes
  • I learned more about how voltage works.
  • That Hibiscus can create the best solar panel out of pomegranite, Hibiscus and blackberry
  • you can use a lemon as a battery.
  • …chemistry is combining things to find something new

Conversation Starters…

Red/Blue Groups

  • How can you make a battery? What is voltage?
  • How do you make a solar cell? What different kinds of materials did you investigate today around making a solar cell?
  • What challenges did you complete in robotics today? What did you do to get your robot to go?

Yellow/Green 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 different types of airplanes did you make? How did they work differently?
  • What challenges did you complete in robotics today? What did you do to get your robot to go?

Picture of the Day…

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>

Last day extravaganza!

It’s hard to believe the week is already over! The students were really sad, but we made sure they had a great time (and were worn out!) by the time they left us today. It’s truly been an exciting week of discovery, adventure, and curiosity. The students were awesome! They were inquisitive. They explored. They tinkered. They built. They programmed. They persevered through challenges and celebrated their successes. We loved seeing the transformations!

WKYT and the Herald Leader stopped by today for a visit. The students were so excited to show off their knowledge and show them how things are done in “STEM” 🙂

WKYT Videos – http://www.wkyt.com/content/news/Middle-school-students-code-robotics-and-study-DNA-at-UK-camp-428884543.html

Herald Leader Video – http://www.kentucky.com/news/local/education/article156562794.html/video-embed

Red/Blue Groups

They were in a chemistry lab with Dr. Kenneth Graham, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, and his graduate students in the Don and Cathy Jacobs Science Building today and got to test out different types of solar panels and even created their own solar panel! They tested them inside and outside to see how much energy was needed to power a LED light. In robotics, they wrapped up the Green City Challenge…there were lots of cheering going on as there were many, many successes today!

Green/Yellow Groups

They got to use mathematical modeling to build bridges with Dr. Jonathan Thomas, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education. They got to use a variety of materials to first build the tallest tower they could, and then they built a bridge. They had to keep track of costs though on the bridge building; the goal was to hold at least 8 pounds. There were some fabulous designs! The students used the design engineering process to design, build, test, tweak, test, etc. their products. In robotics, they wrapped up the Space Challenge…just like the other groups there were many successes and lots of high fives, big smiles and cheering going on!

In their words…

Red/Blue Groups
  • “Black Berries can make a solar panel!
  • “Nylon is in tooth brush bristles.
  • (Do you want to know more about his topic? )”yes so I could possibly make my house solar powered.
  • “I liked making the solar cell”
  • “I learned what chemists did, how nylon was made, and how to make a solar panel.
  • “You can make a solar panel out of a blackberry!
  • “I learned the chimist are more inportant than I thought.”

Yellow/Green Groups

  • “Paperclips are a really strong building material.
  • “I learnd that quality is not all about how it looks
  • “how diffrent stuctures effect the strength of towers and bridges
  • “I liked when we got to test our bridge
  • “We got to build bridges”
  • “How to make sure a bridge works
  • “how diffrent stuctures effect the strength of towers and bridges”

Conversation Starters…

Blue/Red Groups

  • What is solar energy? What can it do for us?
  • What did you measure today using your multimeter? What did you find out?
  • Was there a difference in the panels you looked at today?
  • How did you create your own solar panel? Could you create one for our home?
  • What did you get your robot to do today? How did you do that?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? How do you think STEM will help you in your career?

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 get your robot to do today? How did you do that?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? How do you think STEM will help you in your career?

Photo of the Day…

Optical Illusions and 3D Pens!

IMG_6737 reducedToday was quite exciting with Dr. Jen Eli. She had the students create and experiment with several different optical illusions. Then she had them creating mathematical models (and other models!) with 3D pens. The students really enjoyed today’s creative outlet session; some probably brought some of the STEM art home with them today!

IMG_6831 reducedIn robotics, they began their programming and started some basic challenges. While Lego has some really nice basic challenges to begin with, Mr. Evans and Mr. Randall like to change it up each year and provide students with challenges more appropriate towards the final challenge they will be doing at the end of the week. So today they worked on driving around curves without hitting walls. There were lots of great successes!

In their words…

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

  • How to draw a art that tricks the eye. How to use a 3-d pen to make things
  • How neutral colors impact optical illusions.
  • That complementary colors are what mostly make illusions pop out
  • I learned about the parts of a 3-d pen

IMG_6793 reducedWhat did you like about what you learned today?

  • That optical allutions [sic] take the mind and eye to work
  • I liked learning about how 3-D pens work
  • I like making the 3d shapes
  • I used the 3-D pen to draw a shape and decorate it

Was there anything you did not like about what you learned today?

  • Nope! Except that we had to stop! I could have gone on forever!
  • No, i had a great time!

Would you like to learn more about this topic?  Why or why not?

  • Yes, because it is AWESOME + FUN!
  • Yes because i want to learn more about what shapes you could do
  • Yes i like making 3d stuff
  • Yes because there’s so much to learn and it interests me

IMG_6779 reducedConversation Starters…

  • What is an optical illusion?
  • How do colors affect optical illusions?
  • What did you make with the 3D pen?
  • How does the 3D pen work?
  • How could you use a 3D pen to build a model?

Photo of the Day… We took our STEM Camp photo today! Not all of our helpers are in here, but this is all the students and some of our helpers! Aren’t they a great looking bunch this week? Click here to view the rest of the photos from yesterday and today!

Week 1 Group Photo reduced