Thursday, July 19, 2018

Summer STEM Camp at ASA

Building a display stand for a statue! 

Creativity and Innovation Through Teamwork and STEM

July 9th through 12th a group of creative and innovative designers from 1st through 8th grade gathered at the middle school with Mr. Fillman for STEM camp. Their first challenge was to work as a team to lift, and then hold in place, an object placed in a small ring with string. The round ball pictured above was a challenge, but they were successful with a small stuffed animal.

The next challenge of the week was to design and construct a display stand for a "statue." There were a variety of different ideas! Many stood alone and held a test plastic frog, but didn't support the weight of the final test statue.

As the quote from Thomas Edison in the front of the middle school science lab says "I have not failed. I've just found 1,000 ways that won't work." STEM campers reflected on and experienced what it means to learn from "failures." They observed and talked about where their prototypes were weak and how they could improve on their initial designs.

On Tuesday Mr. Fillman started camp by reading Beneath the Sun, a book about how animals seek shelter from the sun's heat on hot summer days. He then took campers outside and introduced them to solar beads, a craft supply that changes color when exposed to the sun.

The first design challenges inspired by this story and item was to design an animal with solar bead eyes. Then groups constructed a shelter for their animal to rest in, protected from the sun.

Groups spent time talking about their designs and sharing ideas with other campers! 

Inspired by another book and a Gingerbread Man needing a lift across a river campers assembled and testing a raft for a gummy bear. Mr. Fillman provided "hurricane" winds in te form of a fan to propel each prototype through the science lab sink.

Learning about the parts of plants with Mr. Levi! 

Doing a little weeding and planting. 
Campers worked with our friends from Urban Roots and our Master Gardener friend, Mrs. Carol Tuesday and Thursday morning! They learned about the part plants that we eat: roots, leaves and fruits. They tasted peas, carrots, and blackberries. Campers found a number of baby frogs living in our garden. They learned about various types of ground cover, like straw and pulled weeds, used to help keep plants wet and cool in the summer. They also helped to weed and plant peppers and Swiss chard.

Exploring how plants get relief from the hot summer sun AND looking for frogs! 

The final project of STEM Camp week was designing and testing a prosthetic leg for an elephant. Campers watched a short video clip about a team who designed a prosthetic leg for a dog. They learned about the many different styles and ideas the team when through until they found the perfect replacement leg. Then they read about an elephant in need of something to help her walk and set out to prototype an idea that they could test on their own limbs. Students came up with a number of great ideas and learned some valuable insights about the importance of comfort and sturdiness when building a device to help someone walk.

Throughout the week campers engaged in discussion with Mr. Fillman about the technology and real world connections to all of their STEM challenges!

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