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!

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!!??

Brainiac Tuesday at STEM Camp

Have you ever held a brain in your hands? Have you ever thought about what it would feel like? Our bodies are amazing functioning machines, with the brain and spinal cord at the core of that functioning. The students got to learn all about that today at STEM Camp and even got to hold a brain and a spinal cord. There was even a brain cut in half so you could actually get a glimpse of what the inside looked like! The students were really surprised at really how “squishy” the brain is. They learned about the importance of the dura covering the brain in addition to the skull itself. The students were also amazed at how narrow and flimsy the spinal cord was. They really enjoyed today…even the students who weren’t too sure about having a real brain in the room at first. In addition to the exciting hands-on features of today’s events, the students conducted nerve experiments on each other.

In robotics today, they finished building their robots if they needed to and then started on their first challenges. The students had a lot of fun trying to figure out the initial challenges and changing up the program code on their robots. It’s always great to see the students working together to problem solve and test their new solutions!

In their words…

  • When you are right handed you use the left half of the brain
  • The brain has a protective cover called the Dura mater
  • You have the same number of brain cells when you are a baby as when you are grown up
  • The frontal cortex is not essential to living
  • There was a man who had a train spike impaled through his head and lived

Conversation Starters…

  • So what was it like to hold a brain today? Was it what you thought it would be?
  • Why is the frontal cortex not essential to living?
  • What is important about the dura matter?
  • What challenges did you work on today at Robotics?
  • How do you like programming the robot?

Photo of the day…

IMG_1784Aren’t they a great looking group!!??

Click here to check out all the pictures we took today. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @seebluestemcamp for real-time updates about what your kids are experiencing throughout the day!

Day 2 See Blue STEM Camp – Week 1

IMG_1474Today was another exciting day at the See Blue STEM Camp! Ms. Carolyn Crowdus, a graduate student in the College of Medicine, brought real human brains and a real spinal column over to the College of Education today to help students understand more about neuroscience. Her presentation was, “Got brains? A journey through the human mind”. Campers had the opportunity to hold and touch the brain and spinal column (with gloves on of course!) if they wanted to. They also completed sensory activities with colored pencils and a partner to explore the different nerves and effects of touch on the human brain/body.

IMG_1513In robotics, the students began programming their robots. They worked more on trying NOT to knock down their Lego figures (the goal was to give them a close shave), but also added in turns and basic robotic movements. They had a lot of fun programming and trying out new and different techniques with their robots!


During lunch today, Dr. Tim Knauer – Director of the McAdams student observatory, brought his special telescopes and the students were able to view various parts of outer space, including looking (safely) at the sun! Dr. Knauer also shared a wealth of knowledge tonight to campers and their families during the night sky viewing. It was a little cloudy, but there was still a lot to see!

We were able to somehow rangle all the kids together and get all 70 of them to look at the camera for the camp picture! Aren’t they a great looking group?!!?

IMG_1467More photo highlights today can be found by clicking the image below:

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