Summer of STEM: Dive Deeper into Dissection!

This summer we’re hearing from our amazing camp staff. Our Hope College students do the heavy lifting of planning, prepping, and teaching our hands-on camps all summer long! Each week, 2-3 student staff members will recap a camp they’ve led and share tips on how to keep the fun going at home!


Hello everyone! My name is Ashley Lauraine and this is my fifth year working at the Explore Hope Science Camps. I will be a freshman at Hope next year and will be majoring in Biology along the Pre-Veterinary track. I absolutely adore these camps and love watching the campers’ eyes light up when an experiment is a success or their craft turns out just perfect! Now that I will be a college student I am finally able to lead camps after 4 years of assisting and I am so excited to share with you one of my all time favorite camps to participate in!

This week I led Diving into Dissection! Dissection is one of my passions and I love being able to share this with my campers. I even took this same camp when I was their age! This camp covers anatomy of different animals such as the rat and fish and also delves deeper into individual organs like the eyes, heart, brain, and lungs. The primary focus of this camp was to allow the kids to explore the in depth anatomy of the specimens and learn more about the physiology and functions of the individual organs within an organism such as a cow or a human. 

One of my favorite parts of the week was the dissection of the cow eye. The entire class was interested as I explained how the lens in our eyes reflects everything we see so that our eyes perceive correctly. They also loved taking out the tapetum lucidum from the eyes. This is the reflective surface behind the retina that allows cows, and other animals, to see well in the dark and causes eye flare in photographs. The campers all admired the marble-like blues and greens making up that structure.

Another major highlight of the week was our observation of a cow lung! We used an air compressor to inflate the lung and the kids were able to feel the tissue as it expanded and released and were able to visually see what happens inside their own bodies every time they breathe.

Does inflating a cow lung sound amazing to you? Do the next best thing and make your own model lung!

Breathe in, breathe out!

You will need:

  • A stiff plastic bottle cut in half
  • A balloon
  • Plastic wrap (you can replace this item with a balloon cut in half, using the top half)
  • A rubber band
  1. First you will need to cut your plastic bottle in half, keeping the top and recycling the bottom. 
  2. Second your balloon will be placed inside the plastic bottle with the end sticking out the top, then that end will be stretched over the mouth of the bottle. This will be your lung. 
  3.      
  4. Wrap the plastic wrap around the open bottom with enough slack to be grabbed and pulled and secure it with the rubber band. This is going to represent the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest (thoracic) and abdominal cavities. This muscle pulls down to allow your lungs to inflate and pushes up to deflate. When you pull down the balloon will inflate and when you push it back up, it will deflate. 

Summer of STEM: Art 2D/3D

This summer we’re hearing from our amazing camp staff. Our Hope College students do the heavy lifting of planning, prepping, and teaching our hands-on camps all summer long! Each week, 2-3 student staff members will recap a camp they’ve led and share tips on how to keep the fun going at home!

Welcome back to the ExploreHope blog! My name is Haley Galloway and I’m so excited to share part of my summer at ExploreHope with you all. I am a recent graduate of Hope College and as an alumna, nothing makes me happier than to see all of the great learning opportunities that Hope provides for our campers!

This week I had the honor of teaching one of ExploreHope’s fine arts oriented camps, Art 2D/3D. This camp allows our campers to explore different mediums of art, both two dimensional and three dimensional, and hopefully discover new techniques and skills. This camp is one of my favorites that ExploreHope offers because it allows our campers to nourish their creativity and participate in types of art that they haven’t had exposure to before.

One of my favorite activities this week was doing shaving cream marbling with our campers. This was our last activity on our first day of camp and I think it totally summed up how the rest of the week was going to go: messy, colorful, and a whole lot of fun! It was amazing to see all of the campers’ creations because every one of the pieces came out so unique. If you picked your camper up on Monday and wondered why their hands were stained, this activity was why! 

The campers got to create a wide variety of art this week, but I think one of everyone’s favorite activities were our collages. I loved seeing how creative this activity inspired our campers to be, and the best part is that it is super simple to recreate at home! The only supplies needed are an old newspaper or magazine, a pair of scissors, some paper, and some glue. Challenge your kiddos to create something creative out of your old magazines and newspapers!

Summer of STEM: Wonders of the Watershed

This summer we’re hearing from our amazing camp staff. Our Hope College students do the heavy lifting of planning, prepping, and teaching our hands-on camps all summer long! Each week, 2-3 student staff members will recap a camp they’ve led and share tips on how to keep the fun going at home!

Hello everyone! My name is Katie Selenko and I am currently an ExploreHope Staff member! I am a junior at Hope College studying Elementary Education with a focus in English. I believe science camps are a great way to allow students to engage and learn more about the surrounding world. As a child who attended various science camps,  I remember being very excited and always ready to learn more! I am excited to be a part of that opportunity now for other kids.

This week I was given the opportunity to lead the Wonders of the Watershed camp. Our main focus of this camp was to see how land use affects our watershed by sampling water and soil from three different stream sites including the Macatawa River at Windmill Island, Zeeland Wetlands, and at Adams Landing. This week we dove into concepts about water quality including dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, nitrate, phosphate, turbidity, and conductivity. We also talked about soil concepts, such as nitrate and phosphate. We also discussed how stormwater and agricultural runoff might affect the watershed and ways to help prevent it. 

My favorite part of this camp was watching students be active participants in the field and engaging in the testing of water and soil quality. It was exciting to see campers get involved and to have them learn more about what we can do in order to help clean up our watershed. 

If you want to have a taste of the Wonders of the Watershed camp at home, going to this link will provide you a map of Michigan and what land use is like within each area. Even especially in the Holland/Zeeland area! This is what our camp focused on this week and how different types of land use affects our watershed along with sediment deposition. We discovered this week that areas surrounded by urban land tend to have poorer water and soil quality compared to streams that have a mixture of agricultural and urban land use. 

Summer of STEM: Cool Critters and Crawlies

This summer we’re hearing from our amazing camp staff. Our Hope College students do the heavy lifting of planning, prepping, and teaching our hands-on camps all summer long! Each week, 2-3 student staff members will recap a camp they’ve led and share tips on how to keep the fun going at home!

Welcome back to the ExploreHope blog! I am so excited to share about my first summer as a teacher for ExploreHope. My name is Annie Bruebach and I am going into my senior year as an Elementary Education major. I have loved seeing our campers become so passionate about science through hands-on activities and experiential learning.

This week I had the privilege of teaching one of my favorite camps, Cool Critters and Crawlies. All of our campers became bug experts as we learned about bumblebees, spiders, insects, butterflies, and lightning bugs. The students even had the opportunity to work with one of the Hope professors to create their own pollinator devices!

One of my favorite activities this week was ending camp each day with bug catching. Each student had their own “bug house” that they filled with soil and all the bugs they caught during the week. The campers loved digging in the dirt and finding rolly-pollies, ants, spiders, and even a couple earwigs. At the end of the week the students got to take their bug houses home so they can continue to bug hunt!

In the classroom, the campers participated in a variety of activities and each day they were able to take home a bug-related craft. If you asked any of the campers, I’m sure they would say that their favorite activity was making lightning bugs from plastic bottles!

Make your own lightning bug at home with an empty plastic water bottle, a pipe cleaner, some yellow and black construction paper, a couple glow sticks, and some tape.

  • First, tape the yellow construction paper around the water bottle.
  • For wings, cut out the black construction and tape two wings to the body of the lightning bug.
  • Then, twist a pipe cleaner around the cap to create the lightning bug’s antennae.
  • Finally, place the glow sticks into the bottle. Turn off the lights to get the full effect of your glowing bugs!

By the end of the week, all of our campers had become bug experts and it was a blast to see them become so passionate about all the cool critters and crawlies that live around us!

Summer of STEM: Python and Raspberry Pi

This summer we’re hearing from our amazing camp staff. Our Hope College students do the heavy lifting of planning, prepping, and teaching our hands-on camps all summer long! Each week, 2-3 student staff members will recap a camp they’ve led and share tips on how to keep the fun going at home!

Hi everyone, my name is Rylee Snellenberger and I am a sophomore studying biomechanical engineering. I was able to lead the Applied Python camp for Week 5 of camp! I was super excited to see what these kids would create, and I am happy to say they did not disappoint! The main point of Applied Python was to learn how to control different circuits with code, mainly Scratch and Python, by connecting their circuits to their Raspberry Pi. A Raspberry Pi is a brand of computer geared for hobbyists, researchers and education.

This camp was very personal – there were only four campers! Yet, they were able to create some pretty cool circuits. One camper made a quick reaction game with two buttons and an LED. Another was able to create a controller for a robot arm! My favorite part of Applied Python was seeing the campers work together to create some pretty sweet circuits and code. It was amazing to see campers want to try each other’s creations. 

If you would like to start coding yourself all you need is a computer or laptop! To learn how to code, the Raspberry Pi website has some Python coding tutorials that will guide you through creating your own code using the Python application. After going through a tutorial feel free to customize it to you! Create questions that your friends have to answer about you! 

Summer of STEM: Prehistoric Planet

This summer we’re hearing from our amazing camp staff. Our Hope College students do the heavy lifting of planning, prepping, and teaching our hands-on camps all summer long! Each week, 2-3 student staff members will recap a camp they’ve led and share tips on how to keep the fun going at home!

Happy summer everyone! I am Ana Gamboa-Andrade, I recently graduated from Hope in November and am teaching at the ExploreHope Science Camps this summer. I majored in Elementary Education in the Integrated Sciences so I love seeing campers immersed in hands-on science education. 

Campers shows off their pudding fossils – keep reading to learn how to make your own at home.

This week, I had the joy of leading the Prehistoric Planet camp. Our little paleontologists had so much fun in this camp exploring any and everything about dinosaurs and fossils. They got to take part in some fossil digging and assembly, creating teeth and claw molds, exploring descendants of dinosaurs, and excavating their own dinosaur eggs!

Dino tracks!

This was a Kindergarten through 2nd grade camp, so along with the week being fun, it was also cute as heck! One of our favorite activities was getting to create our own tar pit slime. We pre-portioned out some ingredients for a gooey slime and added a few drops of black paint to give it that tar feel. Once they finished kneading it, they got to play with some small dinosaur toys and get them stuck in their tar.

Digging for fossils…

If you’d like to share some of the Prehistoric Planet fun at home, you can try making some yummy pudding fossils with a few simple ingredients.

Materials:

  • Vanilla pudding
  • Chocolate pudding 
  • Crushed up graham crackers
  • Crushed up Oreos
  • Dinosaur gummies or sprinkles
  • Blue food dye
  • Clear dessert cups
  • Spoons

Before assembling your pudding fossils, you’ll want to dye about a third of your vanilla pudding blue to represent a lake bed. Once your materials are prepared, walk your little paleontologist through this yummy model of fossil formation. 

Imagine 200 million years ago, some dinosaurs were walking in a riverbed. Scoop a layer of blue pudding in the bottom of the cup to represent the river bed and put the dino sprinkles on top.

All of a sudden the dinos were buried by a landslide, a flood, or a volcanic eruption! Quickly cover the dinos with cookie crumbs.

Over time more sediments accumulated on top of the river bed. Some of the sediments were big, and some were small. Some of the layers were thick, and some were thin. Use the chocolate and vanilla pudding along with both kinds of crumbs to make layers, burying your dinos deeper in the Earth. Let your paleontologist create their own story.

Over millions of years, the pressure on top of the material surrounding your dinosaurs turned the mud and dirt into rock, and the dinosaurs into fossils. Enjoy! 

Visit ExploreHope Summer Camps for more info. Although many of our camps are full, there are still openings for all ages.

Summer of STEM: Step Up!

This summer we’re hearing from our amazing camp staff. Our Hope College students do the heavy lifting of planning, prepping, and teaching our hands-on camps all summer long! Each week, 2-3 student staff members will recap a camp they’ve led and share tips on how to keep the fun going at home!

Hi everyone! My name is Maddie Suhrheinrich and I am an upcoming senior at Hope College. I am currently studying elementary special education and am loving the opportunity to practice my classroom skills in Explore Hope Summer Camps!

During the past two weeks, I have led Step-Up’s Water Exploration Camp. Step Up is a program through Hope College that teams up with local middle school students to provide mentors and academic support. We explored the ideas of water quality in local areas, such as a stream in Zeeland and Lake Macatawa.

Campers learned about different factors of water quality. After collecting samples from the locations, they used hands-on water testing kits to test them. Once campers mastered their skills, small groups were able to create an investigation of their own! Each group posed a research question, collected and analyzed data, and produced a research poster they were able to share on the final day of camp. It was so exciting to see how their skills grew over the two weeks and how their creativity shined in their posters.

My favorite part of this camp was being able to visit different sites with the students to collect data. When at the sites, students would get into the water areas to collect samples. It was so fun to see all of their different personalities shine, as some were very eager to jump in the water and others were participating in a more behind-the-scenes matter. We had some good laughs, especially when one student’s shoes floated down the stream unexpectedly! I also loved being able to have time on the bus to sit and get to spend time with the kids in a non-academic setting. I felt a lot of our relationships were formed on these trips!

Another one of my favorite parts was watching each group of students present their research posters. It was so rewarding to see their hard work presented in a large way. Each group had a different poster where their personalities stuck out. I also loved watching the students who were not presenting support their fellow campers. And of course, it was fun to end with celebratory ice cream on their last day.

For anyone who is interested in completing an activity relating to water quality exploration, I have the solution for you! One of the main factors we tested was the pH of the water samples. To complete this at home with everyday household items, all you need is red cabbage and water! Blend 3-4 large leaves of red cabbage in a blender filled halfway with water. Afterward, strain the juice to make sure all of the chunks get out! Once you have this solution, separate it into different cups and add any substance of your choice to test the pH. Acids will turn red/pink and bases will turn blue/green! 

The past two weeks at Step-Up were such a rewarding experience. I was able to make valuable connections with my campers and assistant teachers and create so many exciting memories along the way. I am so grateful for the experience and the lessons I have learned to take with me in my future classroom!

Visit ExploreHope Summer Camps for more info. Although many of our camps are full, there are still openings for all ages. Scholarships are available for middle and high school students interested in environmental and engineering topics. Contact Lise at zinck@hope.edu for more information, including questions about transportation options.

Summer of STEM: Science of Star Wars

This summer we’re hearing from our amazing camp staff. Our Hope College students do the heavy lifting of planning, prepping, and teaching our hands-on camps all summer long! Each week, 2-3 student staff members will recap a camp they’ve led and share tips on how to keep the fun going at home!

Happy summer, everyone! My name is Annie Arthurs and I am a recent graduate of Hope College and an ExploreHope teacher this summer! Science camps create so many wonderful hands-on experiences for campers and allow children the opportunity to ask questions and make discoveries in a safe, fun, and vibrant environment. 

Making carbonite!

I recently had the privilege of leading our Science of Star Wars camp. The week was filled with laughter, excitement, and learning! Throughout our four-day camp we talked about mixtures and solutions, Newton’s laws of motion, light energy, and so much more!

Although the entire week was a blast, my absolute favorite part was watching our young padawans create their own carbonite using what we learned about heterogeneous mixtures! They even got to stick Han Solo (a green army man) in the carbonite! So cool!!

If you want to experience a taste of Star Wars camp at home, you can try making your own R2D2 escape pod using a few household items. 

The materials you will need are 

  • An egg (or two!)
  • Markers
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic straws
  • Paper
  • Coffee filters 
  • Tape
  • String 

The raw egg will be your own personal R2D2! Feel free to decorate the egg (gently!) with markers to make it look like a real droid. 

Then, using the household materials listed above and anything else you think might be helpful, create your own pod to protect R2D2 from a tall drop. 

Once your pod has been created, test it! You can drop it from various heights and modify your pod to best protect your pod! 

This activity helps us to understand Newton’s laws of motion and of course, the Force! The biggest force in question is gravity when it comes to dropping our pods. We know our pods are going to go down; however, we can use what we know about force, mass, and acceleration to modify our pods and protect our drone!

Visit ExploreHope Summer Camps for more info. Although many of our camps are full, there are still openings for all ages. We hope to see you soon!

Summer of STEM: Super Science Sampler

This summer we’re hearing from our amazing camp staff. Our Hope College students do the heavy lifting of planning, prepping, and teaching our hands-on camps all summer long! Each week, 2-3 student staff members will recap a camp they’ve led and share tips on how to keep the fun going at home!

Hello and welcome to my ExploreHope Blog Takeover! My name is Kimmie Drake and I will be a sophomore here at Hope. I plan on majoring in Elementary Education with a focus in Integrated Science. I have always had a passion for science and was so excited that I received this opportunity to be a part of the team that leads camps throughout the summer. 

I had an amazing time leading the camp called Super Science Sampler for K-2nd graders. For those who cannot decide, why not try it all? With this camp there is a new theme everyday which gives campers a chance to experience five different camps throughout a week. For example, campers made bug catchers and learned about the parts of an insect, visited animals at the animal museum, learned about habitats, watched liquid nitrogen and dry ice experiments, and learned about states of matter. There was never a dull moment. 

One of my favorite memories of this camp was creating volcanic eruptions for our Prehistoric theme day. I can guarantee that these campers, if allowed, would have spent all day watching the volcanoes erupt. Lucky campers – this activity is super-easy to do at home!

All you need is vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, and washable paint or food coloring. Even if you do not have a volcano mold you could make one using playdough shaped around a plastic cup. Combine baking soda, food coloring and dish soap in a container – then add vinegar and watch the eruption! More instructions and tips for this simple and fun activity can be found here.

Another one of my favorite memories was going outside with the campers and hunting for bugs for our Creepy Crawlies theme day. Each one of the campers got their own bug catcher filled with dirt in it and used a spoon to dig around under bushes in search of bugs! They all wanted to find the most bugs as possible, especially roly-polies. They also collected grass, twigs and leaves to add to their bug catcher which they took home. 

Hunting for insects on Creepy Crawlies day!

Making these bug catchers at home is very easy! Find a plastic container and a spoon. Next, poke some holes into the lid or use Saran wrap and a rubber band for the cover. Then off to explore and find as many bugs as you can! Pop them in the bug catcher and count how many different types of bugs you found.

Super Science Sampler made Week 2 very enjoyable as I watched these campers discover the world around them! 

Visit ExploreHope Summer Camps for more info. Although many of our camps are full, there are still openings for all ages. Scholarships are available for middle and high school students interested in environmental and engineering topics. Contact Lise at zinck@hope.edu for more information, including questions about transportation options.

Summer of STEM: Science of Harry Potter

This summer we’re hearing from our amazing camp staff. Our Hope College students do the heavy lifting of planning, prepping, and teaching our hands-on camps all summer long! Each week, 2-3 student staff members will recap a camp they’ve led and share tips on how to keep the fun going at home!

Matching the witch or wizard with the wand!

Hi, my name is Gina Polito and I was lucky enough to lead the Harry Potter camp along with Haley Galloway. We had so much fun with our wizards as we are both huge fans of Harry Potter as well. I loved being able to geek out over Harry Potter with these smart and creative campers! I had so many fun and interesting conversations this week. I even ended up learning a lot from my campers.

This week in camp, we had our wizards sorted into houses, made wands, saw owls from the Outdoor Discovery Center, played Quidditch, mixed potions, and made our own magical mandrakes. 

My favorite part of the week was the last day when we made our own Polyjuice Potion to drink while playing Harry Potter trivia. HUGE congratulations to Ravenclaw for winning the house cup and receiving the most house points! Another big congrats to Slytherin who won our Quidditch tournament!     

Wingardium Leviosa!

Did you know you can make your own magical potions at home? Fill a glass vial (or mason jar) with vegetable oil and add an eye of newt (beads), unicorn hair (fishing line), dragon’s blood ( red food dye), and mermaid scales (sequins).

This magical potion lets you test an object’s density! When you drop a new item in your potion, see which items float to the top and which sink to the bottom. The more dense objects will sink while the less dense will rise to the top! Now that’s the kind of magic ExploreHope Summer Science Camps are all about!

Earning top marks in Potions!

Visit ExploreHope Summer Camps for more info. Although many of our camps are full, there are still openings for all ages. Scholarships are available for middle and high school students interested in environmental and engineering topics. Contact Lise at zinck@hope.edu for more information, including questions about transportation options.