(read the first Science Camp post here) If you’re also reading on Christie’s blog, A Lemon Squeezy Home, you’re getting a double dose of science camp information. Sorry about that. But this was a huge project, and one of the most fun, rewarding thing I’ve done with my children. So overlap and all, I’m documenting it!
The first day was all about arriving, setting up and getting acquainted (my kids were the only ones that knew everyone else). We roasted hot dogs and made s’mores for dinner. I was supposed to talk about the science behind melting along with the s’mores. But in the rush to eat, since we were running a few hours late due to Suzi’s exploding tire, I completely forgot. But the s’mores were tasty even without the knowledge behind them. We also had them with Nutella. I *highly* recommend this over regular milk chocolate. But then I don’t really like milk chocolate, so my opinion is already bias…towards awesomeness!
The second day started out with Christie doing an area overview. Poor Christie, she got stuck with this topic when both Suzi and I have been the ones spending nearly every summer of our lives down here. But she did awesome. We discussed local floral and fauna, with the kids drawing pictures of what they’d already observed around them. She went over rocks and even found a huge sandstone for the kids to feel. The coolest part of that was that you could also see the layers in it. I loved how hands-on our camp was. I’m sure that’s why the kids were so engaged the whole time. Not only were they learning the facts, they were playing with the science. Keeping the attention span of 10 kids ages five to 11 is no simple feat, but we had no issues whatsoever. The kids all did every assignment, and were so on-task. Then Suzi did a unit on weather. Suzi teaches fourth grade, and has even won awards for her teaching in California and Nevada. It’s funny, as her sister, seeing her go into teaching mode. She loves it and it shows. She had the kids imagine different types of weather (can you tell Christie’s son, C, is imagining a hot summer day?!)
And then Suzi launched into a series of really awesome experiments:
Weather in a Bag:
Condensation and Frost in Tin Cans
Cloud in a Bag
and a Homemade Thermometer
After each experiment, as a true teacher, Suzi had the kids record their observations in their notebooks
And then it was back to Christie for Sun Science. We did an overview of various sun facts,then Christie had the kids do sun art with photosensitive paper. It was super cool. The kids each got two pieces: one to use the included stencils with and one to go out and find natural objects to use.
Then they’d walk out in the sun until the paper turned white
After a rinse in water, the art dried to look like this
It was like magic and the kids thought it was awesome. I did, too.
And then we let them start fires. Okay, not really, but Christie talked about the sun’s power and we used the magnifying glasses to burn holes in paper. Only my oldest was the only one that could get the paper to burn. After some trial and error, we discovered if we put dried weeds on top of the paper, it would ignite, and we could burn the holes that way. The kids spent so long doing this, and we even had to lay down some rules to keep the older ones from burning down the place the rest of camp. But seriously cool, and a useful skill to have.
In all our scheduled learning, us adults had made sure to schedule plenty of free time. We wanted this to be fun, relaxed and something the kids were excited about, not overwhelmed with. So even though we had more planned, after a full morning of science, the kids seemed to need a little bit more play. We had a water balloon fight, that last all of five minutes (the prep time : play time ratio for water balloons is super lame, fyi). And then buckets were brought out and the real fun began.
For those that didn’t want to fight with water, we laid a shower curtain out with the hose and had a homemade, really small, kind of ghetto, but still somehow fun slip n’slide.
As much fun as the kids had, Suzi, Christie and I laughed so.hard. watching the kids playing. We sat in the shade refereeing, chatting, and egging them on.
After dinner, Christie had the kids make ice cream in a can. It was so funny watching the various methods the kids employed to “roll” their cans…
It took some time, but after a while, we had ice cream
Christie’s and my oldests were the first to achieve the finished product. And it couldn’t have happened to two more humble, reserved children.
Yeah, they were a bit proud.
But everyone eventually got there
By this time it was after 9:00, and we thought the kids would be exhausted. They were, but they were also insistent and unanimous in wanting to go over the science unit we had skipped earlier in the day. So with the kids pleas for more science, it was Suzi’s turn for a late-night space lesson
She had the kids make planets out of Play-Doh, completing each layer separately And then cutting open
To observe the various layers
We had planned for the kids to all have lights out by 9:00 every night. We’d even packed movies and a DVD player for us adults to have some down time by ourselves in the evenings. But none of us, kids included, got to bed before 11:00 any of the three nights. We had so much going on and we were having too much fun to ever be done anywhere close to 9:00. It made for some bleary mornings, but again, no complaining from the kids. Their excitement for it all kept us adults going, too. And we had even more planned for the next day…