Science Camp 2005 Week Two

We had a great group of campers this year and they had fun trying lots of science experiments.

The Seventh and Eighth Grade Campers

They had the opportunity to participate in activities in 5 fields of study.


This year the campers checked some pennies.  The found their weight and therefore density was different.  It depended on the date they were minted, earlier ones were all copper and later ones copper clad zinc.  They masde a notch through the copper so they could dissolve the zinc out of the newer ones.  They investigated the corrosion of iron in different solutions and found that a wooden skewer could be pushed through a balloon without popping it, if you knew the trick. In fabric lab they discovered that some kinds of material took up dyes differently and that fact could be used to determine just what fibers each was made from. 

In biology they sampled their own DNA using cells from the inside of their cheeks, separated it from those cells and put it in a tiny container on a necklace they could keep.  They visited a remote island where they had to decide how to manage their resources so they could all survive.  Well actually they simulated the visit with paper stand-ins for their resources.  They also got to dissect grasshoppers and eyeballs.  

Computer Science
In computer science they learned about number systems including binary and how it is used to code letters and numbers in computers.  They searched the World Wide Web to find facts in an internet scavenger hunt and they became part of a model of the web showing how the whole network is linked together.

The campers investigated magnetic fields, how electric current could produce them and how a motor works.  They used some of what they learned to build telegraph sounders (those required careful adjustment) and then tried to figure out messages sent in Morse code.  Wednesday they investigated sound, some unusual musical instruments and built a couple.  They found that sound travels through solids and gases and that suggested an experiment they could try in a swimming pool.  They also were introduced to the decibel  (dB) scale.  The room as quiet as possible it was 64 dB (due mostly to a noisy air conditioner) , with everyone singing it was about 80 dB, and everyone shouting it was just over 100 dB.  Fifteen minutes a day at that level can result in damage to your hearing.

Campers built and investigated the properties of airfoils.  They used a wind tunnel to measure the lift of a test wing.  Then used what they found out to make full size wings for model airplanes. Thursday they had a contest to see which one flew the farthest and which stayed up the longest.

We had lots of contests  in addition to those in aeronautics and the web scavenger hunt.  There was the laser target shoot,  building and testing a toothpick bridge,  periodic table word search, water balloon slingshot, toothpick and marshmallow tower, an aluminum foil boat, and the science millionaire game had some of them scratching their heads.  A new contest this year was to figure out a shape that was hidden from view by rolling marbles at it and seeing which way they came out.  This is the same problem that early atomic scientists had when they were trying to figure out what the atom looked like by shooting alpha particles at them.  Some of the campers enjoyed learning the game of nim, solving Tangrams, and tackling the 8 queens problem.  No prizes for those other than the satisfaction of figuring them out.

The home construction challenge was to build a tower using pasta that would have a CD on top like a radio relay antenna.  The "foundation" was another CD that was bolted down during testing.  There was no restriction on the kind of pasta or glue and up to 2 pounds of materials could be used.  Of course the taller and lighter the towers were the higher they would score.  We bounced a laser off the top CD and on to a target so that we could measure how rigid the towers were.  They were then subjected to a "hurricane" supplied by a leaf blower with a variac for speed control.  The strongest stood up to a 220 MPH blast but were heavy so they didn't score well.  There was a lot of thought and ingenuity demonstrated in the designs.  The best had a good tradeoff between weight, height and strength.  The winner wasn't the tallest, strongest, or lightest but had the best combination of them all.
Lots of contests and lots of proud winners.

We all visited a great science museum in Columbus Ohio.    Some of them tried a unicycle high above the exhibits below and used their bodies to demonstrate centripetal force.   Some of them tried to lift themselves using the mechanical advantage of a block and tackle or disassembled a computer to its inter most  elements in the gadget cafe.   Rat basketball and a Foucault pendulum demonstrating that the earth is turning are things you don't see every day.

The Volunteer Helpers
The instructors really appreciate the hard working volunteers who helped out.  Most of them had come through the camp in prior years and had fun so they wanted to take part again.


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