‘Polar’ camp takes the heat out of summer
From investigating an Alaskan murder to building robots to explore the Antarctic, students are taking part in a number of cool science activities this week at the James E. Richmond Science Center’s “Polar Explorer” camp.
The one-week Polar Explorer camp is the second of three camps being run by the science center this summer for rising fourth through eighth graders.
Last week, the science center held “Expedition Earth,” a study of wetlands, geology and meteorology, and from August 22-26 will hold “Up, Up and Away,” a camp on aerodynamics and flight.
Richmond Science Center director Monique Wilson said the frigid theme of the camp was one way to help beat the heat of summer.
“We thought we’d do a polar theme, because it’s the middle of summer, and it’s hot, so it makes a nice distraction,” Wilson said.
Monday kicked off with an investigation scenario. Camp participants took on the role of investigators as they tried to solve the mysterious murder of a scientist at the “Anchorage Polar Research Institute.”
Students analyzed blood and hair samples, fingerprints and tire tracks to identify the murder suspect, and even measured simulated maggots to determine the victim’s time of death.
“We set it in the scenario of, this is a researcher in Alaska. He was tasked with protecting the wildlife in the oil reserves and he got kind of crooked, and one of the townsfolk decided to kill him,” Wilson said.
Later in the week, Wilson said students would use liquid nitrogen to make dry ice “ice cream,” write their own music to penguin calls and build robots designed to explore Antarctica.
“The rovers will have different tasks; they’ll have to measure different landmarks, take a reading of the humidity, measure how deep is the ice floe,” Wilson said.
Camp participants also get a swim break at St. Charles High School’s swimming pool in the middle of each day.
Zariya Cowan, 11, said she took part in the previous camp and wanted to return for a second week.
“It was a different camp last week, but I had fun, so I said, can I go next week, and they said sure,” Zariya said.
Zariya said the best part so far was the crime scene investigation, including examining hairs from the “crime scene” under a microscope.
“I never knew there were cells or anything inside of hair. I thought it was just a strip of hair, and that was it,” Zariya said.
Terrell Pullen, 11, was another participant in the camp. He said he was excited to take part in the Polar Explorer camp.
“I really love science,” Terrell said. “There were a lot of activities and I thought it would be really fun, and I want to learn more about science.”
Wilson said one of the goals of the camp was to create a fun, exciting way for students to develop or keep a love of science during the summer.
“This also helps them stay sharp for school. They’re expected to use math … measurements, critical thinking, inferences,” Wilson said. “We do have fun … but we are also developing STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] skills, and teaching them about being good citizens.”
James E. Richmond Science Center camp participants Zion McCoy and Chrissy Brown theorize how the victim was killed during a “crime scene investigation” scenario at this week’s “Polar Explorers” camp.
Camp participant Jayden White tests simulated blood for A and B antigens during a “crime scene investigation” scenario at the James E. Richmond Science Center’s “Polar Explorers” camp this week.