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…

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

Week 1 Day 1 is successfully in the books!

stem camp logo 2016We had beautiful weather to kick off the first of our two weeks of 2016 UK See Blue STEM Camp! We are very excited to welcome 216 campers over the course of the next two weeks. Seventy-two of them started today. Registration went very well this morning and we really appreciate everyone’s patience in getting all the forms UK requires turned in. You all are awesome!

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 adolescents and can be replicated. We also look at students attitudes towards STEM and the impact of our activities. We do not collect test scores or anything similar for your students nor do they have to be a Fayette County student to participate. 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!

We will post a blog post each night this week with some highlights from the day and some conversation starters. The conversation starters are meant to help you get over the “What did you learn today?” “Nothin’” or <shrugging the shoulders> we often see at the adolescent age. 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.

Today the students split up and 1/2 saw Dr. Bruce Walcott and the other 1/2 saw Dr. Isabel Escobar. (If you like TED talks, you can view hers here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-wbHD77kMWE) In both sessions students were immersed in the wonderful world of engineering…using their hands to build and explore just as engineers do.

In robotics, students started by engineering their robots. They got to build their robot and get to know it. They always love this part, but we’re eager to continue moving them on to basic programming challenges. We have some exciting new challenges planned for them this week!

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.

Dr. Walcott – What I learned today…
  • We used a slinky as a demonstration of sound waves.
  • I learned that the first woman that graduated from engineering helped invent AC.
  • I learned that weight matters less than volume when it comes to making boats.
  • I would like to be an engineer.
  • The testing of new designs.
20160606_100017Dr. Escobar – What I learned today…
  • That if you mix a type of powder and water and turn whatever you put it in upside down it will not spill.
  • I liked that we did hands-on things instead of just talking about it.
  • You got to play and touch it and experiment with it.
  • I liked that we got to learn things chemical engineers get to experience.
  • I want to learn more about the powder and water because it was really cool watching the powder form into a solid.
  • I liked that we got to do the experiments that went with the lesson.

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.

20160606_095937Dr. Walcott:

  • Tell me about how you assembled your robot. Did you follow instructions? Did you just try to figure out what parts went together?
  • Is there a particular field of engineering that you think might interest you?
  • How many pennies did your boat hold? If you could build it again, what would you do differently?

Dr. Escobar:

  • What happened when you mixed the powder and water and turned it upside down?
  • What does a chemical engineer do?
  • Is there a particular field of engineering that you think might interest you?

Photo of the Day… Each day we’ll post a camp highlight. Clicking on the picture will also link to all of the pictures taken at camp – It’s not working right now because I forgot to bring the camera home to download the pictures. 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! (We did not do too well at taking pictures today with it being day 1, but we promise to do better tomorrow!)

20160606_100055Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to get live updates throughout the day! https://twitter.com/SeeBlueSTEMCamp 



The Wonderful World of Engineering!

IMG_4837 copyWith all 143 students back on campus today we were all pretty busy…having lots of fun! Today was full of engineering fun for both groups. Red and blue groups had a blast with the Dr. Walcott and other College of Engineering staff. They got to tour the different facilities and laboraties the College of Engineering has. One of their favorites was going into the sound proof room…now if only we could get them to stay quiet for 30 sIMG_4861 copyeconds to really experience it 🙂 They also got to design an aluminum boat and test it’s floating capacity. In robotics, they got started on the Green City Challenge today and had a lot of great successes. There were lots of smiles and high-fives as the students completed the various tasks associated with the challenges. Tomorrow they are in for another treat with Dr. Brett Criswell and some nanotechnology action! IMG_4867 copy Since the astronomy viewing was not available all week because of night time cloud cover, Dr. Tim Knauer – Director of the MacAdams Observatory – came over after his class today and set up his special telescope that allowed the students to view the sun directly. They were very excited to see the fiery ball and even a ring was visible! We only wish the other two groups could’ve seen it too, but he is teaching a class until 12:30 each day. IMG_4844 copy

The yellow and green groups took to some design engineering activities with Mr. Doug Klein from Project Lead the Way. Mr. Klein had them building away during their session. The students were very excited to be “real engineers” for the day and got to design and build dams and levees. In robotics they started the newly-released Space Challenge. Since this is a new, it brought about it’s own set of challenges, but the kids did a great job of working through it all together, being patient, and working on programming. One group got up to 53 blocks for one program! Wow! Tomorrow they will get to end with a STEM Camp favorite – Dr. Bruce Walcott.

In their words…

The wonderful world of engineering! (Dr. Bruce Walcott) – red and blue Groups

  • ​I learned that when being an engineer you have to consider the volume of what your creating like what we did with the pennies.
  • That concrete boats float
  • Yes because I enjoy both math and science which are what you use in engineering.
  • The more the volume of a boat, the better it can float with weight.
  • I thought the activities made it fun.
Design Engineering – Mr. Doug Klein – yellow and green groups
  • ​Building the egg mobile
  • That we got to actually enginer stuff.​
  • I learned how to build a dam.
  • I am interested in a career in engineering because I like to create things and solve problems.
  • Yes; engineering is all around us and is a big part in life.
  • Levees (effective ones, at least) can be made with tape, cardboard, dirt, and popsicle sticks.
  • It was interactive, fun, and included one of my possible careers.
  • Yes because I love Stem and it is my passion.

IMG_4793 copyConversation Starters…

Blue and Red Groups

  • What is a sound proof room? What makes it sound proof?
  • How many pennies were you able to put into your boat? What makes your boat float?
  • How did you find the area or dimensions of what your boat needed to be?
  • What was your favorite part of engineering today?
  • What challenge did you complete in the Green City Challenge?
  • How do you and your partner(s) work together to program and complete the challenges?

Yellow and Green Groups

  • What does it mean to be an engineer?
  • What do you need to build a successful levee or dam?
  • Talk to me about how you created your levee or dam today. What did you take into consideration as you built it?
  • What is an egg mobile?

Picture of the Day… Be sure to scroll through the pictures as I noticed that I didn’t hit accept to publish the pictures from yesterday. I’m missing half of the pictures from today so I will get them uploaded in the morning…my apologies…we’re trying hard to keep up with these great kids! IMG_9635 copy

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