Thirty-Two Summer STEM campers explore science and engineering, aeronautics, coding and competitive math games utilizing smart technology

Thirty-two outstanding young people in grades 6 through 10, from the Big Bend area, assembled at Bethel Family Life Center at 406 Bronough St. in Tallahassee for a variety of challenging, but interesting projects.

The 2018 Summer STEM Camp was sponsored by BUC Technologies, LLC of Tallahassee. Major student sponsors were “Take Stock in Children Program”, Margo Thomas, Director and “Distinguished Young Gentlemen Program”, LaRhonda Larkins, Director.

 STEM Camp Staff:

  • Mark Thompson, Instructor-retired NASA engineer, former middle school science teacher and current high school teacher for AP computer science.
  • Chris Weider, Instructor-middle/high school science teacher.
  • Rachelle Dierestil, Instructional Support and Activities Coordinator

The camp activities were divided into four rotating blocks of 90 minutes each. The activity blocks included science/engineering projects, science online modules and computer math games (Scratch and Sumdog), art/drama activities, and science lab lectures and experiments.

Science projects implemented during the four-block rotation by Mr. Thompson included the following:

  • Growing Crystals by creating two saturated solutions of water and dissolved chemicals. 
  • Students learned about the different elements of the Solar System. They built models of the eight planets and Pluto. Finally, the students demonstrated their knowledge through quizzes to compete for the right to take a solar system model home.
  • Students discovered the three states of matter through hands-on chemistry activities. They learned about non-Newtonian fluids by mixing liquid polymer with a reagent to produce silly putty. They also made slimy ooze and glow ooze.
  • Campers engaged in a discovery of states of matter. The students learned about turning liquid to solid by making butter from heavy cream. They could eat the butter afterwards. Finally, they made ice cream from milk, learning about the properties of freezing point and how we can change the properties of a substance by adding salt.
  • Campers learned about gas pressures (Ideal Gas Law). We used acetic acid (vinegar) and baking soda to produce carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. Students learned about the difference in density of different gasses by weighing the CO2 vs air.

STEM activities by Mr. James included the following:

  • Administer Pre-test covering middle and high school science facts (prize given for highest score by grade level)
  • Convene discussions about current NASA and space science news
  • Monitor “Scratch” (project building game) and “Sumdog” math game where campers can accumulate points (award given for highest points).
  • View relevant videos on STEM topics (prize given for best essay summary)
  • Creation of pictorial project boards for viewing on the last day by parents, visitors and stakeholders.

STEM activities implemented by Ms. Cotterell through the inclusion of the Arts:

  • Support activities where students would create an arts project from previous science and technology experiences that included one or more components of music, art and dramatization.
  • Administer post-camp activities until 5:30 p.m.

Science Labs implemented during the final rotation block by Mr. Weider included the following:

  • Dry Ice Lab and Experiment
  • Physical and Chemical Changes
  • Balloon Rocket Experiment and Competition
  • Extraction of DNA from Strawberries

Field Trips During Weeks 1 & 2:

  • Field trip to the FAMU Viticulture Center. Students learned about small fruit growing and extracted DNA from bananas and strawberries.
  • Field trip to Lake Jackson

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