GEAR UP’s summer STEM camp started Monday, June 15th and went until Thursday, June 25th. Eight, 2 hour days were filled with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math centered activities. These activities were both fun and educational and were put together by GEAR UP tutors Sarah Garza and Erika Martinez and River View HS GEAR UP Site Manager Amandalyn Rubio.
On the first Monday, the first activity was a collection of Brain Teasers. The students had to work on different teasers with ranging difficulties. There were a couple that stumped the students but they enjoyed trying to problem solve individually and as a group. The next thing the students did was make Oobleck. Oobleck is a non-Newtonian substance made of cornstarch and water that is classified as both a solid and a liquid. The students had fun experimenting with the Oobleck.
On Tuesday, the students took part in a Paper Airplane Challenge. Some of the students found it difficult to make paper airplanes but they enjoyed testing out different designs and trying to make them fly. The second activity of the day was making slime. The slime was made out of Elmer’s glue, Liquid Starch and water, which combined chemically to make a slime substance that the students were able to play with without it sticking to them.
Wednesday, students made their own Homemade Ice-cream in a bag. The students started by adding basic ice-cream ingredients cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla into a Ziploc bag. They then added that bag into a larger Ziploc bag that was filled with ice cubes and ice- cream salt. Both bags were shaken for up to 20 minutes. The shaking caused the salt to melt the ice which dropped the temperature surrounding the ice-cream mixture, causing it to freeze. Everyone really liked this activity and said the ice-cream actually tasted really good. After the ice-cream activity the students made their own Popsicle stick catapults, using Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, spoons, and cotton balls.
Thursday, the activities were the Balloon Rocket Car Challenge and the Newspaper Challenge. The Balloon Rocket Car Challenge gave students the opportunity to make a balloon rocket car out of recycled water bottles, straws, caps, skewers and balloons. They were then able to race their cars against each other. The Newspaper challenge tested the students’ ability to build a sturdy table able to hold a large textbook out of 8 sheets of newspaper, an 8 in. by 11in. sheet of thin cardboard, and masking tape. Two students completed the semi-difficult task.
The second Monday of the camp students participated in a Math Scavenger Hunt where they had to race around the classroom while trying to; for example, find an object that measured exactly 5 inches. The second activity of the day was learning about the components of blood. Props included water beads, foam pieces, and ping pong balls as blood cells and platelets. A large cutout person made out of paper also showed the students the blood flow through the body.
Tuesday, students had the opportunity to make their own lava lamp out of recycled water bottles, water, oil, food coloring, and Alka Seltzer. The students thought the chemical reaction that made the solution look like a lava lamp was really cool. On this day students also took part in a graphing activity. They had to make a picture on graph paper using plotted points and make a rule set so their partner could make the exact same picture on a blank graph. This was an activity they had previously done in Math class.
Wednesday, students were treated to STEM Jeopardy in the Lecture Hall. This homemade Jeopardy included the classic components of Jeopardy including Double Jeopardy, Daily Doubles, and Final Jeopardy. Categories were based on STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and also included a Pop Culture category.
The last day of the camp the students competed in two challenges. In the Spaghetti Challenge student pairs were given 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 yard of masking tape, 1 yard of string, and one large marshmallow. The teams had 20 minutes to build the highest spaghetti tower using their given materials that they could. The only rule was the marshmallow had to be at the highest point of the tower. It was interesting to see the different approaches the students had to the challenge. The final activity was the Egg Drop. The ultimate objective for the Egg Drop Challenge is for students to build a protective casing for a raw egg so that when it is dropped from a height of 10ft it will not break. One of the main rules for the challenge was the egg had to be visible by at least a quarter sized opening and had to be able to be taken out of the contraption after the drop. The students were able to use up to 12 different types of materials and had a fun time showing their creative sides.
Overall the STEM camp was a success for the program. A total of 8 students participated during the two weeks and seemed to really enjoy all the educational activities and lessons that were put together for them.
A special thank you goes to GEAR UP Ambassador Carlos Orozco, for being a positive role model and for his leadership amongst the 8 students that attended the camp. He was an integral part of getting some of the students to attend during the two weeks and made all efforts to help GEAR UP staff with any tasks that needed to be completed.