Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wild & Wacky Science art mini-camp volcanos and more

 We started the week making crystals and had fun mixing up each concoction. We made crystals from Epsom salt which makes needles in the fridge, salt that blooms on a sponge, borax over chenille stems, and geodes from alum. Most take days to make although the Epsom salt ones show growth within 24 hours--lots of fun to look at.
We spent part of the afternoon crafting a space station or future place from plastic recyclables. I filled a bin with item and the campers got to choose items and configure a project working in groups.  They used CDs, plastic tubs, aluminum pans, caps, and lots more that I collected and a lot of hot glue. Part of the project teaches creativity and group work, part is safety in using hot glue guns,  pliers and scissors, and part of it is encouraging them to describe the project and tell the story behind their work. Someday we'll get that on film too. We are so lucky to have 2-3 volunteers to help the kids out doing the projects.

Although it is not strictly natural science the mechanics of catapults seemed a natural fit and as in the first week of science camp creation caused a lot of concern about their fingers but once the first ball was launched on one seemed concerned about anything except how far their ball would go and who they could hit with it. Check out the video: catapults1 and catapults 2
Paper making is messy but is something not very many kids have done. I started with cardboard egg cartons and ground them in the blender before class to create the pulp. We talked about use of deckles (the frame for straining the paper) and the process to press the water out and turn out a page of paper with bits of paper or shred in the surface. We did not dye the paper this time although we have in the past. 
 Fossils are interesting and investigating ways to examine them teaches the kids something about archaeological methods too. I have been keeping a fossil box for a couple of years and collecting things that make good impressions to look at; small pinecones, shells, bones, twigs, and odd shaped other items are great to press into clay or in this case damp sand to make the beginnings of the project. Once the pressings are complete we mixed plaster to make castings of them. The kids got to learn about the right consistency to pour plaster.

It takes a day or so to set up well enough to unearth the fossils from the sand. We used large tubs to support the castings and catch the sand. They brushed off sand with stiff brushes until they could see their cast fossil copy then let it dry a bit more and rebrushed. Once the sand was off the results were pretty amazing--the kids were picking out things on the surface that they recognized from the pressing part and were pretty impressed.

We began and ended our week with volcanoes. We watched films of volcanoes erupting and discussed some of the volcanoes and how big they get, how far the magma is thrown into the air and other topics. We looked at Kilauea in Hawaii and Mt. St. Helens in various states of eruption. We talked about Pompeii but I wasn't able to find a short video for them on that.
Constructing a volcano from a juice bottle is easy using rigid wrap and newspaper. Everyone shaped one and set it out to dry. On Thursday they
just looked too white to this group so everyone painted theirs before the eruption. (click on picture to view)   From art camp 2012
The results were satisfying but more to come on that as we invite the younger kids to the eruption.                                                 

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