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STEM at day camp

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  • STEM at day camp

    I am the day camp program director. I am completely out of my depth. I need to develop a STEM curriculum.
    • Monday Science: use the scientific method in a simple science project. I need a science project. I have to order materials. I have no idea.
    • Tuesday Technology: I'm completely stumped.
    • Thursday Engineering: explore how levers affect your every day life. I have only the vaguest notion of what should happen next.
    • Friday Math: (here I think I actually have something going.) Calculate how much you would weigh on the moon, calculate the height of a tree, guess the probability of your sneaker landing on its bottom, top or side and then flip it 100 times to find out which way it lands,. Use this probability to predict how a friend's sneaker will land.
    If anyone here has any advice on what I can do with the scouts at camp, I am very eager to hear. If you can point me in the direction of an interesting web site, I will also be grateful. Most of what I have found on my own has been far to vague.

  • #2
    Mine would be ...

    M: water bottle rockets,
    T: geocaching, or (if folks won't volunteer GPS's) radio station orienteering,
    H: catapults,
    F: lofting water balloons (to determine the probability of soaking the camp director)!

    Good luck. Get help from teachers. Ask them what they would like to do with their students but the classroom stuff got in the way. Ask lots, and in the process a few helpers might get roped in.


    • #3
      A simple science project is to determine which brand of paper towels is most absorbent. have kids develop a hypothesis, and the materials needed are different paper towels, eye droppers, and small cups.

      For Thursday, set up seesaw type levers (a long board, a round piece of wood long enough to use as fulcrum), and have boys adjust the two sides of lever to have little boys lift big boys or multiple big boys. For pulleys, you can use paperclips and string to make the different kinds of pulleys.


      • Tampa Turtle
        Tampa Turtle commented
        Editing a comment
        I have had the best luck with Home Depot pullys and paracord/rope. I'd say test, test, test to avoid disspointment.

    • #4
      Yep, I had exactly the same ideas as Q for M, T, and Th. For Friday you could incorporate compass skills as well or build inclinometers from protractors, straws, strings and plumbs for the height of the tree. Instead of calculating how much they'd weigh on the moon I might suggest having them do a standing long jump, measure their vertical leap, measure how far they can throw a ball, etc.. Then ask them how much those would change with 1/6 gravity. It's not exact but I guess they'd still have to multiple by 6 at a minimum. Maybe have them calculate the lift of a helium balloon (balloon tied to a fish scale maybe?) then calculate how many balloons necessary to lift various objects off the ground?


      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        good point, dc.

        Plus when you fit that bit in about how far you can jump on the moon using the same force (which has to deal with hang-time minus drag), you can point out that watching movements (among other methods) is how one can tell an authentic moonwalk from a staged one. The motion of the actors is different (longer aloft), and the dust that gets kicked up doesn't form clouds, it just flies up and drops (no drag)!

    • #5
      Great advice. I'm being asked to assist with similar project here. Very interested in anything else you discover.

      Howarthe: Send me a PM with your e-mail, and I can e-mail you a NOVA book I've worked up. Might be some help..


      • #6
        NASA has a help the educator program. I agree with quazse--make it fun. Also look at MAKE magazine and the Instructables website for inspiration. Boys LOVE catapults! Especially those that heave water baloons at staff! Levers with concrete blocks make the demonstration hit home. Scouts is all about hands on not ho hum. Ask around there a lot of real passionate engineers out there...

        Our Troop is going to a new Summer Camp that is stressing STEM Merit Badges but it turned a number of boys off. It is all in the presentation.


        • #7
          I went to the National Camping School training and I specifically asked if anyone had an idea of what we could do at camp at the technology station that was different from the engineering station (because everyone kept saying levers for both). NO ONE had any ideas. Incredible. But I've been pouring over the Cub Scout curriculum and reading it and re-reading, and I think I finally have something worked out.

          Science: "use the scientific method in a simple science project." This is from the science belt loop, but I still haven't decided what that science project will be. Water bottle rockets is an interesting idea, but you have to change a variable. If we could change the size of the fins, that would be perfect, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't manage it myself.

          Technology: "make a simple compass with a magnet and pin." This is from the map and compass belt loop. A compass might seem low-tech since it doesn't have any electronics, but it is a bit of technology that changed the world, literally, we had to re-draw all the maps. Also, "in the field, show how to take a compass bearing and how to follow it," and "measure your pace, then layout a simple compass course for you your den to try."

          Engineering: make three levers, one from each class. The NOVA book states: "make a list or drawing of the three types of levers," but I think it would be a lot more fun to build the levers than it would be to draw them. The three examples in the book include: a seesaw (Class 1), a wheelbarrow (Class 2), and a broom (Class 3). Class 3 levers are the hardest for me to understand, but they also include a lot of sporting equipment like tennis rackets, baseball bats, fishing rods, gold clubs and hockey sticks.

          Mathematics: "calculate how much you would weigh on the… moon… Jupiter…" also "calculate [the] height [of] a tree." This is straight out of the NOVA book. Calculating weight might be a bit dull, but calculating the height of a tree should be very cool.


          • #8
            The mentos and diet coke experiment is good for changing the independent variable. (How does the number of me toes effect the volume of the geyser). For $6 they make a device for this. This YouTube video show an interesting take using Nutella and a durex. Levers ? The cubs would love to learn how Howard Hughes used his engineering skills to invent the cantilevered bra to solve a problem with Jane Russell. Maybe do some experiments with water balloons.


            • #9
              I've never taken anything that comes out of NCS seriously since it said lifeguards shouldn't have whistles.

              Everything you listed just screams "catapult". The engineering would involve classes of levers, fulcrums, construction, etc... the technology would involve guidance, and upscaling from your marshmallow/dowel models, (e.g. "How much of a lever could we get from that tree?" "If we could, how far might it throw?" "If our target were on the other side of a hill, how would a scout figure the direction to aim?" "If we were on the moon or Jupitor would it work differently?" "How?")

              But seriously, you could take nearly anything, bicycles, PWD cars, mess kits, first aid, and generate a STEM program from it.


              • #10
                Another take on the mentos would be to use the same number of candies but different kinds of soda. Come up with a measuring platform behind the soda bottle, etc. You could do multiple trials and averages. Probably gets a bit expensive unless you have each group do one set of data and combine it all at the end?