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STEM Camp focuses on extreme science

By Staff | Aug 4, 2017

Carissa Mavec/PCT Students at STEM Camp at Rugby High School watch as a volcanic eruption is demonstrated. Beth Boucher pours liquid into the volcano to make it erupt.

STEM Camp was held at Rugby High School this past week, July 31 August 4 from 8 a.m. 12 p.m.

Led by junior high science teacher Melissa Goddard, the week was full of extreme science, as Goddard called it.

“We don’t really have a theme for this year, but if I had to choose one, I’d call it ‘Extreme Science.’ We’re going to outer space, in the ocean, and with seasons, you have extreme temperature differences,” she said.

On Monday, this year’s 41 students learned about outer space, completing multiple activities. Because Goddard wanted to incorporate more art subject matter into the camp, the students did galaxy paintings, where they used paint and bubbles to mimic different galaxies on paper.

Students also made paper mache planets, talked about what they would pack for a trip to outer space, and got to make their own Space Shakes. Each student was given milk then chose a thickener and a flavor to create a space-like milkshake.

On Tuesday, the lesson was all about under the ocean. Students made ocean paintings by dropping paint onto paper and using a straw to blow the paint around.

They also did an activity called Jellyfish in a Bottle. “It’s about teaching them the negative effects of plastic bags in the ocean,” Goddard said. “The plastic bag looked like an animal once it was in the bottle.”

Wednesdays activities centered on Rumbling Volcanoes. They talked about the layers of the earth, examining rock and mineral specimens, as well as volcanic ash. Students made volcano replicas out of Play-Doh, and watched an eruption demonstration made from dry ice and water.

Students also got to play with “secret messages” on Wednesday. They used lemon juice to write on paper then ironed the paper to reveal the message.

Thursday’s lessons were on engineering, with a demonstration by the RHS Ag Department on the plasma cutter. Students also played with engineering kits that allowed them to build things such as robots, cars and rollercoasters.

On Friday, students learned about seasons. Each season had its own activity. “We’ve discovered that students are having trouble understanding seasons in relation to where the planet is in orbit and in relation to the sun,” Goddard said.

Throughout the week, students participated in two scavenger hunts, one space-themed and the other ocean-themed. The campers were also given a tour of the RHS Library’s 3D Printer. They were able to see different items made with the printer and how the computer sets up to print.

Another exciting activity the students were able to experience was a 3D movie dome, courtesy of North Central Education Cooperative. Movies were played on the ceiling of the dome. “The kids have really been enjoying it,” NCEC College and Career Readiness Coordinator Mandy McNeff said. “They were especially screaming during the dinosaur movie, with the dinosaurs running across the dome ceiling.”

Along with Goddard and McNeff, Cheryl Jacobs was another adult leader this year. Student helpers were Nate Goddard, Kate Heidelbaugh, Levi Tufte and Beth Boucher, who made the erupting volcano.

STEM Camp is for students entering grades 3-5.

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