Science camp 2001 week 2

Seventh and eighth graders took over the science building this week.  They came charging down the hall with looks of eager anticipation.  The first day in physics we repeated some of the experiments of the early scientists who studied static electricity so some of them were charged even more in class.  The early Greeks knew that when amber was rubbed with a cloth it could attract particles from the air.  We didn't have amber but balloons provided a good substitute with Styrofoam balls for the particles.  We built electroscopes with which they could detect the charge on a balloon. We charged a pie plate by induction, checked if it was charged using the electroscope, and then used it to light a fluorescent bulb.

Again this week the Van de Graff generator got a lot of attention.  We were able to light fluorescent bulbs while holding them in our hands, though not bright enough to take a picture.  Most of the students wanted to see what it was like to be charged to more than 50,000 volts.  The humidity this week kept us from generating higher voltages.  Some of the students wanted feel what a spark was like so we limited the voltage and let them try it.
Some came back for seconds and wanted more ? ? ? ? ?

When we worked in the properties of electric currents and magnetism there was a lot of interest in the repulsion coil that Nancy is demonstrating.  You can see the aluminum ring repelled half way up in the second picture.  The students used electric meters like those on your house to measure the power used by lights, an electric drill, and a hair dryer. They were surprised that the hair dryer used the most by far.  They built batteries out of two pennies, one of which had the copper face ground away to expose the zinc interior.  They used pieces of salt water soaked paper towel as the electrolyte and were able to detect the electricity using an earphone.  The disk motor was a demonstration of the rotation produced by the current and magnetic field as well as the corrosive power of electric current through a conductive solution.  We had built Ferrofluid viewers that provided another view of the magnetic fields for the students to explore.  A magnet inserted into a container of mineral oil with suspended iron filings gave a demonstration of the field in three dimensions.  Nearly every student said "cool" or "neat" or even "that's beyond cool" when they saw it.  They also had the opportunity to explore the effect of magnetic fields on a TV picture and use a hand cranked generator to light 2 small lights.


We built crystal radios on the third day.   I am happy to report that we had a 100% success rate.  We tested them using a spark gap transmitter giving the students the experience of what the early radio pioneers had heard.  The students were interested in some of the history including the fact that my dad told me that he had built one when he was a kid.  They found it hard to believe that the sample we had of the original type of crystal, galena, was a naturally occurring mineral.  We were glad to hear that some of the kids were able to get their radios work at home.

With the help of one of the other workers at the camp I managed to get some pictures from the other classes.  In biology they dissected sheep hearts and eyes.  From the looks on the faces of the first pair I would say that the operation was a success, however I am afraid that the patient died.  They worked with impressive intensity and had a lot of fun on this project as you can see from the pictures.


The computer classes covered the internet and world wide web, how spreadsheets work, and a scavenger hunt for facts on the web.  They were given a list of questions and the ones that found the most correct answers won prizes.

In chemistry they analyzed shampoo, made pigments, and investigated electrochemistry.  Each of the students plated two pennies with zinc then heat treated one of them to produce the golden color.


In the astronomy class they built rockets, some with attached space planes which separate from the booster and glide back to earth while the rest returns by parachute.

Here are pictures of the classes.  The name tags were a different color for each group.  There was a strong competition among them.


Thursday we held a physics Olympics, launched the rockets, played Who Wants to be a Millionaire (science edition) and tested the spaghetti bridges that the students had built at home.  Some of the students were very artistic with the paint jobs on their rockets.  The bridges had to span an 18 inch river, be 4 inches or more wide and be made of no more than 1 pound of spaghetti and 7 3/4 oz of white glue.  The before and after pictures of one of the bridges shows the reaction when your bridge does well.  The strongest bridge supported more than 13 times its own weight.  43 pounds of spaghetti is a lot of noodles to clean up.


We all had a lot of fun and the winners got great prizes.  Here are the winners of the internet scavenger hunt, the physics Olympics, Who Wants to be a Millionaire (you can play at the Jefferson Lab web site), and the spaghetti bridge contest. Everyone attending science camp, including the teachers and volunteers came away winners with increased knowledge and appreciation for others capabilities.


We "surprised" Robert with another T-shirt that all the students had signed.  The quote this week was from a student who said  "Way beyond cool" when he saw the results of one of the experiments.

The visit to COSI on Friday gave all the students a chance to explore more of the world of science.  My group got to ride the unicycle on a wire high above the main lobby relying on the low center of gravity provided by the weight suspended below to keep them safe.

They investigated the mechanical advantage provided by pulleys.  One of them needed a little help or maybe his friends were just trying to make it look that way.  In class we had talked about the effect of a magnetic field on the electron beam in a picture tube.  Here you can see why I told them not to try it with their color TV at home.
Our intrepid adventurers visited a "dig" in the Valley of the Unknown. Our guide (first picture) gave us some information about the area and what we were to seek there but then left us on our own to explore the valley.  Their stability was thrown a little off kilter in the King's throne room (second).  Animal symbols that they found in the maze, cavern and temple had to be entered on the keys of mysterious shrines to unlock the spirits who revealed yet another piece of the puzzle (third).  When they had collected enough clues they could use them to enter the Observatory (fourth picture) where a secret message was revealed.  Upon leaving the observatory we began the process of translating the strange script that appears on the walls of the buildings found in the valley.  It was clear that we understood what needed to be done but that it would take a very long time to complete the task so we left the valley to explore other regions of COSI.
In the Ocean portion we could see how a ball set on a stream of water would be held in place by the flow around it, illustrating Bernoulli's principle.  Two bronze bowls from Tibet could be made to spout water when the handles were rubbed briskly.  The rubbing set up a musical resonance like the sound you can get by rubbing a moist finger around the rim of a wine glass.  The sound waves became so intense that the water was thrown into the air at the anti nodes near the rim of the bowl.  You can see three of the four in the picture.  If you put your finger into the water you could feel the sound waves in it.
The Gravitron was a circular room which could be spun at 35 rpm.  When it was up to speed the occupants were held in place against the wall by their inertia.  The demonstration was made even more memorable when the floor suddenly dropped out and we were left hanging on the wall.
We had a great time this week and hope to return for new science adventures next year.

More pictures and higher resolution versions of these and others are available if you would like a copy send an e-mail and I will try to oblige.

Check the news article that the Appalachian News-Express ran about the camp.

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