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…

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!

Week 2 Begins!

stem camp 2013Welcome to the UK See Blue STEM Camp week 2…for the 7th and 8th graders! We have a great group of 72 students this year who were very eager to start up this morning even though we had dreary weather for a Monday!

Today was “Engineering Day” with Dr. Bruce Walcott in the College of Engineering. Dr. Walcott has helped out with numerous outreach and education activities for the past several years; he is always a very big hit with the kids as he plans for exciting things! The kids got to tour various parts of the engineering complex and talk to a variety of different engineers. Many of the kids did not know what an engineer did nor did they know there were some many different types of engineers! They conducted a few small experiments (including the one below!) and got to explore different pieces of equipment. They also explored a few engineering principles (really mathematics principles!!) such as building a boat out of aluminum foil and seeing how many pennies it could hold, and building a special motor.

In robotics today, the students began by building their robots…this week the robots they are building and doing challenges with are the sumorobots. Almost all of the groups finished up building today and will begin their challenges tomorrow. 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’ evaluations of what they learned each day at the content session.

  • There are many types of ways that engineers help build everyday objects.
  • I learned that planning is very important in building.
  • Wing warping is a technique of controlling airplanes.
  • Nano boxes are used to send data to and from space.
  • How surface area affects sound.
  • The different fields and careers available in engineering.


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.


  1. What was interesting about Archimedes Principle?
  2. I didn’t realize UK had a space program…could you tell me more about it?
  3. What are these Aerokats I keep hearing about?
  4. I wonder if regular airplane wings can go into outerspace. Hmmm. Or do they need special ones?
  5. How do they do experiments on the International Space Station?
  6. What in the world is happening in the following pictures!?


IMG_1693Photo 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!

Week 2 STEM Camp




Systems Thinking for Sustainability – a true Multi-disciplinary course

Systems Thinking for Sustainability is multi-disciplinary course (architecture, engineering, marketing, and STEM education) that will offer UK students a unique opportunity to develop projects in sustainability as members of collaborative teams. Together, these teams will tackle sustainability issues involving complex systems where economic, social, and technical factors interact in dynamic and challenging ways. Team-taught by faculty from four colleges (Education, Engineering, Business, Design), STFS will be an essential preparation to the student’s senior capstone projects and application of content to K12 classrooms.

I am excited and happy to be a part of this fabulous project! Stay tuned for more!