We are just finishing up our third and final camp for the Summer 2017 season. It’s been a summer of fun and discovery. There were so many times when STEM and Arts/Humanities were so interwoven you couldn’t distinguish one from the other – as it should be. This meant that we needed to highlight the STEM learning in the arts experiences in a way that fostered scientific thinking. I want to revisit some of those experiences with you here today.
Our first camp this season was Summer at Hogwarts. On the first day the youth constructed their student wizard hats. This was an excellent opportunity to introduce them to terms like circumference, diameter, radius, and pi. Those who were interested in the challenge were given the formula for circumference to see if they could determine the diameter of their circles. They then used this information to create their student hats.
To the left is a picture of a proud candidate who created her student wizard hat and wand.
Wands were an opportunity to introduce chemistry. Hot glue gave us an opportunity to have a discussion about adhesives and the polymers used to create hot-melt adhesives. The adhesive discussion would come up multiple times throughout the camp with the hot clue being a reference point.
The highlight of any Hogwarts/Harry Potter camp is the potions demonstration. A seasoned actor can make the science demonstration magical allowing children to suspend their disbelief as they make divination balls and see frozen dementors’ breath scream. We could simply allow the performance art experience to stand on its own but where would the STEM be in that. Instead, after the performance, before the hands on experience we challenged the kids to use their scientific thinking. What might this be in the muggle world? Then come the educated guesses. Then the discussion about dry ice being frozen CO2, states of matter, etc. We didn’t detract from the arts experience, we simply discussed the science with intentionality during the the debrief.
Our next camp was Super Hero Invention Camp where we used the gadgeteers of the super hero world to discuss engineering habits of the mind. We highlighted how characters like Tony Stark were engineers who used their skills to create their super hero personas. We looked at how Tony’s character identified his problem – Tony had shrapnel in his chest and needed an electromagnet to keep it from getting to his heart. His current electromagnet was being powered by a car battery. If Tony was going to escape his captors he needed something that could help him that wouldn’t be so heavy. Tony used his resourcefulness to find a solution-he made a mini arch reactor based on his knowledge of building a large one back home eliminating the need for the car battery. After reflecting on his new invention he realized the battery could power other things –Tony adapted the battery to power a super suit to help him escape. The kids were focused on the art and story of Ironman, however with intentionality we were able to introduce them to concepts identifying a problem, using creativity and ingenuity to come up with a solution, to reflect on the solution and adapt it to other purposes.
Here you see a port hole project that incorporated the scientific knowledge they had learned over the course of the camp to create an acrylic and tempera paint art depiction of a coral reef. The children mixed colors, explored pigment, and used bamboo skewers to create the final result.
STEAM is everywhere you simply have to highlight it.