Summer of STEM: Crazy Chemistry

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 Sean Hoey, and I am going into my fifth year here at Hope College. I am studying Secondary Education with a focus in Integrated Science (a fancy way of saying that I will be allowed to teach biology, chemistry, Earth science, and physics) with a minor in Biology Education. 

I am also involved in the baseball team here at Hope as a pitcher, help lead the HS youth group at Fellowship Reformed Church, and coach the Zeeland Red Bulls Special Olympics basketball team. This summer is my first time teaching at Summer Science camps and I am beyond excited to be here. 

One thing I am most excited about is creating relationships with all the campers and watching them learn and grow in just one week! If this first week was any indication as to how the rest of the summer will go, I am really looking forward to coming back to work each day. 

I led Crazy Chemistry and for campers in 6th-8th grades. This camp was five days of chemistry fun. Our first day, we focused on the concepts of atoms, the periodic table, and how we can identify them in the real world. The second day we learned about solution mixtures. We did a couple cool experiments relating to density and got to make giant elephant toothpaste! For our third day, we discussed the states of matter. The campers got to watch one of the professors here at Hope perform some awesome demonstrations with dry ice and liquid nitrogen (seeing their faces light up during the demos was incredible☺). 

On the fourth day our topic was acids and bases. We observed how colors can change depending on how acidic or basic a substance is, and maybe the most exciting moment of the week was building and launching acid/base rockets. The final day was full of research. We got to tour some of the research laboratories here to see what some students and professors are working on currently, and we got to do some research of our own by chemically testing some water from around campus. 

The week was filled with fun, laughs, building relationships, and exciting chemistry experiments, especially the liquid nitrogen and dry ice demonstrations. By using these different compounds we got to witness:

  • A banana hammer in a nail after it had been frozen solid,
  • An acid/base column that rapidly changed colors, and
  • A racquetball explode like a piece of glass – a favorite with all the campers!

Another great memory was setting off our acid and base rockets. We built small rockets out of film canisters. Inside, we put Alka-Seltzer tablets and some water, setting off a chemical reaction shooting the rockets almost 30 feet in the air! The campers had a blast seeing their rockets take off in the plaza area outside. 

Making acid-base rockets at home is easy! All you have to do is put some water at the bottom of a film canister, drop in a single Alka-Seltzer tablet, cap it, shake, place your rocket on the ground with the capped side facing the ground, and then watch it fly. Make sure not to shake it too long in order to avoid it launching in your hand. You can even add in a small amount of paint to make a cool pattern on the ground. The science behind this is that the Alka-Seltzer and water create a chemical reaction releasing carbon dioxide gas. This builds up pressure and the rocket takes off!

 

This past week with Crazy Chemistry was an awesome experience. I made so many memories that I will cherish forever. I can’t wait for many more to come the rest of the summer and in the future in my teaching career.

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: Movie Making 2.0

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, welcome to my ExploreHope Blog Takeover! I’m John Kim, and I am one of the leaders for the Explore Hope camps this year. I will be a sophomore majoring in Science Secondary Education. Due to COVID-19, I wasn’t able to go back home (Thailand) this year but through this opportunity, I am blessed to share my love for science with our wonderful campers!

Did you know? Because video editing and filming are becoming a trend these past years, multimedia has become a recognized tool for education. For several of my projects and exams, I have created podcasts and videos to express my creativity!

I was the lead instructor for the Movie Making 2.0 camp this year. The big overview of this camp was to create a 5-8 minute mini-movie with 12 middle school campers in 4 days. Of course, throughout the making of the film, we all got to learn about scripts, storyboards, and different types of camera shots. With the use of iMovie and the camera provided by the Hope Communication Department, we planned, filmed, and edited our videos!

My favorite part of this camp was when the campers got into their groups and discussed their ideas for their mini-movie. I could see all the campers getting engaged and fired up for their film day! You can definitely see their passion when they bring their props from home!  As an instructor who has seen all the processes of these camper’s movies, I was excited for them. The finale of the camp was presented through a showcase of the completed trailers and films which the parents could join through Zoom.  

Make your own movie at home!

One of the activities that we did on the first day of the movie-making camp was creating a storyboard. This is an easy activity that you could do to organize your own movie! You could simply print out a storyboard template and start your story by drawing and writing down each scene. This would eventually lead to a story that could be visualized which helps when filming the desired movie scenes. 

This activity could be more interesting if you tell your parent/guardian or siblings to fill out the first board. It is going to be your task to continue the story by using your creative minds! Are you ready to create your own storyboard?

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: Nursing and Health Professions Camp

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 all, and welcome back to the ExploreHope summer camp blog! My name is Isabelle Bertolone, and I am a senior at Hope College. I am going into my final year of nursing school at Hope, and I have such a heart for nursing and all the wonderful things you can do in this profession.

I was STOKED to find out that I would be leading the Nursing and Health Professionals Summer camp through ExploreHope. There couldn’t have been a more perfect camp for me! And now, I get to share some of the best parts of the camp with you all!

The Nursing and Health Professionals camp provides an introduction to the world of nursing and other careers in health, highlighting all the opportunities there are for nurses as well as some of their primary responsibilities. Throughout the course of this four day camp, our 9-12th grade campers had the chance to take a full set of vital signs, perform a brain function assessment, put on and take off a full set of personal protective equipment (PPE), hear from nurses from a variety of different specialties, and more! Campers found pulse and respiratory rates, and can even tell you what the normal range is.

My personal favorite part of camp was watching the campers don (put on) and doff (take off) their PPE as they raced to see who could do it the fastest! Some other highlights include

  • Our aids race with a wheelchair, crutches, and a walker.
  • Swabbing different surfaces around campus and seeing what bacteria grow.
  • Watching the campers work through scenarios where they were the nurses, and I got to play their patient.

But the PPE race stands out as my favorite 🙂

The Nursing and Health Professions camp was a great way to kick off the summer back at ExploreHope in person, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer brings! -Isabelle

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.

2021 ExploreHope Science Camps

Our camp staff are ready for 2021 Summer of STEM!

24 years of Hope Summer Science Camps. 18 enthusiastic Hope College students. 6 weeks of fun-filled, exploration-based science. What does that add up to? The 2021 ExploreHope Summer Science Camp season is starting Monday, June 14th!

This summer, follow along as our camp counselors, all Hope College students, take over the blog and share a little bit about what motivates them to share hands-on science with kids. Check out some of our favorite camps and test drive a few of our most memorable activities at home! From fluffy slime to tabletop volcanoes, our counselors know all the tricks for a sci-tastic summer.

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.

STEM@Hope! Summer Science Camps kick-off

Everyone loves to STEM@Home during the school year, but Summer 2021 can be your time to STEM@Hope with ExploreHope’s on-campus Summer Science Camps! The school year’s winding down, and that means your summer of STEM is about to begin. Hope Summer Science Camps begin on June 14 and run through July 30.

Whether you love dinosaurs or dissection, coding with Python and Raspberry Pi or Crime Science Investigation, ExploreHope Summer Science Camps is ready to make your summer STEM-tastic.

Not a science buff? Don’t fret – between Movie Making, Ukulele, and Art in 2D/3D, we’ve got a camp perfect for you.

ExploreHope is following Hope College protocols to keep campers and staff safe this summer while keeping our camps as fun and engaging as ever! Visit our Hope Summer Science Camp page to learn more about the camps we offer and to enroll. Sign up today!

STEM@Home: Supercool Dr. Deborah Jin

Dr. Deborah Jin. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you have your mother’s smile? What about your uncle’s bushy eyebrows? Some families pass down distinctive facial features, a knack for wise-cracking, or impressive singing skills. But Deborah Jin’s family was full of physics nuts – father, mother and brother! She lost no time in adding her stamp to the family passion, winning prizes for her undergraduate research in experimental physics.

You might be familiar with the “Newton’s Laws” kind of physics – the normal behavior of matter, known as mechanics. Ever knocked two marbles together and noticed how they both get knocked into different directions? That’s mechanics! But Deborah Jin was fascinated by quantum physics – how matter behaves at the atomic and subatomic scale.

Over the next few decades, Dr. Jin mastered superconductors, created ultra cold fermion gases in the lab, and developed a new field of ultra cold quantum chemistry. She died of cancer in 2016 at only 47, but accomplished an incredible amount in her lifetime, not only as a scientist but as a mentor and advisor to other women scientists. Dr. Jin is also remembered for her focus on collaboration between different physics fields.

Learn more about Dr. Jin at massivesci.com – and then follow in her footsteps! Dr. Jin’s first major achievement was supercooling fermion gas. Conduct your own experiments with supercooled materials using items you probably already have around your house!

Supercooled Water Materials:

  • Bowl
  • Distilled water
  • Ice
  • Salt
  • Thermometer that can read between 20 and 40 degrees F
  • Plastic cup
  • Dusty rag

Now, head over to education.com to make your own supercooled water. Then watch Steve Spangler Science use supercooled water to make instant ice!

Register Now for Hope Summer Science Camps!

Love exploring our world, inside and out? Do we have a summer camp for you! Hope Summer Science Camps has over 20 years of experience giving kids the hands-on science explorations of your dreams. Check out the Science Camps page on our website for safety updates, camp schedule, and registration links. We are excited to see you this summer!

STEM@Home: Mildred Dresselhaus, the Queen of Carbon

Mildred S. Dresselhaus holding a model of a carbon nanotube. Credit: Ed Quinn
Mildred S. Dresselhaus holding a model of a carbon nanotube. Credit: Ed Quinn. https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/medalofscience50/dresselhaus.jsp

Quantum theory, semi-conductors, and buckyballs – Mildred Dresselhaus, the Queen of Carbon, mastered them all. Dr. Dresselhaus used the most commonplace of materials – graphite, a form of carbon – to expand our understanding in materials science, physics, and engineering. Join ExploreHope as we celebrate Women’s History Month and be inspired by the many ground-breaking women in science!

The Life and Times of the Queen of Carbon

Mildred Dresselhaus was the child of immigrants and an early violin prodigy. Although her family was poor, Mildred earned a spot at an academically rigorous high school in New York City. There, a physics teacher and future Nobel laureate, Roslyn Yalow, helped Mildred discover a passion for science. After high schol, she earned degrees at Cambridge, Radcliffe, and the University of Chicago, before landing at MIT to begin her career.

Dr. Dresselhaus spent decades exploring the properties of graphite and graphene. She uncovered carbon’s electronic band structure, co-discovered new forms of graphene called fullerenes (or buckyballs), and demonstrated that these materials could be used as metals or semiconductors. Her work not only added knowledge to several scientific fields, but updated the equations quantum theorists used in further discoveries. Now that’s making an impact!

Because of her work, Dr. Dresselhaus became the first tenured woman faculty member at MIT as well as the first woman to receive the National Medal of Science in engineering, along with many other awards and honors. Learn more about Dr. Dresselhaus here.

Princess of Carbon: You!

Feeling inspired? Follow in Dr. Dresselhaus’ footsteps and explore the nature of carbon yourself! Dr. Dresselhaus made ground-breaking discoveries about graphite, a form of carbon. With a few simple materials, you can observe graphite’s electronic properties with a few simple materials:

  • A 9V battery
  • An LED light bulb
  • A graphite pencil (art pencils will work better than regular school pencils)
  • Tape
  • Paper.

Sketch a circuit with the graphite pencil, and you’ll create graphene – a thin layer of carbon atoms that can conduct electricity. Head over to KiwiCo to find out more!

Register Now for Hope Summer Science Camps!

Love exploring our world, inside and out? Do we have a summer camp for you! Hope Summer Science Camps has over 20 years of experience giving kids the hands-on science explorations of your dreams. Check out the Science Camps page on our website for safety updates, camp schedule, and registration links. We are excited to see you this summer!

STEM@Home: Soybean Savant Dr. Percy Julian

Dr. Percy Julian in his lab. Credit: From the collection of The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest

Imagine driving down a country road on a hot summer day, gazing out at fields of green, two-foot-tall plants. Chances are you’re enjoying the sight of a field of soybeans, one of Michigan’s top three crops. Did you ever wonder why farmers grow so much soy? Sure, tofu and soy milk are common foods but scientists have discovered soybeans can be used for “soy” much more.

Chemical Pioneer Percy Julian

One of those experimenting chemists was a Black American named Percy Julian. The grandson of former slaves, he simultaneously took his high school and college classes when he was studying at De Pauw University. Percy Julian earned his master’s degree in chemistry from Harvard but the university did not allow him to continue studying for his doctorate, leading him to earn his PhD from the University of Vienna in 1931.

In 1935, Dr. Julian attained world-wide recognition with his synthesis of physostygmine, but universities refused to make him a full professor and many chemical engineering firms would not hire him because of his race. Based on his discoveries, and to avoid the rampant discrimination he faced in the business and scientific world, he founded his own company to produce his products – and became one of America’s first Black millionaires.

Dr. Julian overcame great discrimination to become appointed to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and for his synthesis of physostygmine to be named one of the 25 Top Achievements in American Chemistry.

Phys-So-What-Now?

Physostygmine is a chemical that can treat glaucoma, an eye disease, and Dr. Julian discovered a way to use the calabar bean to produce this crucial medicine. Dr. Julian went on to use his chemical expertise to invent numerous medicines and safety products from the easy-to-grow soybean, improving and saving untold lives.

Learn more about Dr. Percy Julian, Black scientist and pioneer!

Inspired by Dr. Julian? Make your own discoveries at home!

Based on the discoveries of scientists like Percy Julian, there are tons of ways to explore the flexible chemical properties of the useful soybean at home. Make your own soybean discoveries in the comfort of your own kitchen!

Research Chemistry, Soybean-style

Before inventing new products, scientists explore and learn about the materials around them. For this simple experiement, all you need is a blender and some soybeans (dried or fresh).

Whizz up the soybeans, smoothie-style, pour into a clear glass, and let sit overnight. In the morning, examine the layers that have formed. What do you think they are made of? Hint: touch the top layer and wipe off on a paper napkin. That’s right – it’s soy oil! Soybeans are very high in fat for beans, making them a great plant-based source of oil (more on the usefulness of oil in the next experiment).

Once you’ve studied the layers, heat up a mug of water until boiling. Carefully pour the soy mixture into the hot water. What happens to your mixture? If you stir it, you might see some lumps appear. The proteins from the soybean have clumped together when they were heated up, similar to the process for making tofu. Soybeans are also very high in proteins, making them also a great plant-based source of protein for people and animals!

Invent the World with Soybeans

Remember the high oil content in soybeans? One of the most transformative materials of the last hundred years is plastic – and plastic is mostly made of oil. Imagine all the ways we use plastic today – packaging, medical supplies, food safety, and so much more. We can use renewable, plant-based soybean oil as the basis of these critical materials!

To make your own soy-based plastic, you’ll need a few household ingredients:

How to Make Your Own Bioplastic, courtesy of agclassroom.org:

Place 1 tablespoon of cornstarch into the plastic bag. (Figure 1)

Add 2 drops of soybean oil. (Figure 2)

Add 1 tablespoon of water. (Figure 3)

Close the bag and knead it with fingers, mixing the contents. (Figure 4)

Add 2 drops of food coloring. (Figure 5)

Seal the bag and mix remaining contents.

Open the bag slightly so it can vent.

Weigh the contents of the bag on a kitchen scale. (Figure 6)

Heat the bag in the microwave for 20-25 seconds. (Figure 7)

Remove the bag from the microwave and let the plastic cool. Caution: The bag and contents will be hot!

Weigh the contents of the bag again. (Figure 8) Compare the weight measurements from before and after microwaving. Did the ingredients transform into a chemically new material, or was it simply a physical mixture? Tip: if the before and after weights are different, that means a chemical change has occurred!

Once your bioplastic has cooled down a bit, see if you can mold it! How can you use your bioplastic to improve your life? How could scientists and businesses use this bioplastic technique to solve everyday problems and even change the world?

Register Now for Hope Summer Science Camps!

Love exploring our world, inside and out? Do we have a summer camp for you! Hope Summer Science Camps has over 20 years of experience giving kids the hands-on science explorations of your dreams. Check out the Science Camps page on our website for safety updates, camp schedule, and registration links. We are excited to see you this summer!

All-Around Science Star: Dr. Mae Jemison

NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever dreamed of visiting outer space? Mae Jemison did. As a young girl, she read science fiction and dreamed of shooting to the stars herself. And in 1992, she did! When she launched into orbit, Dr. Mae Jemison was a physician, an engineer, and the first Black woman astronaut in NASA’s program.

February is Black History month and ExploreHope is excited to celebrate the Black scientists who have made history. Plus, we’ll inspire you to explore the science that lit up these science pioneers!

NASA’s Johnson Space Center Astronaut Friday series gives more info about Dr. Jemison and her research work aboard the International Space Station. As a physician, she was especially interested in zero-gravity effects on the human body. She performed many experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness, in addition to supervising the over 40 science experiments on board the space station.

Gravity is a Drag

You probably know that gravity is the force that keeps us grounded safely on Earth instead of floating off into space. But did you know that gravity can change based on how big the planet is, and how close you are to it? That’s why astronauts can bounce around on the moon – the much smaller moon has an equivalently smaller gravitational force. Boing, boing, boing!

When there’s not a huge planet exerting gravitational force, people and objects float around, not pulled in any one direction (like down). But gravity isn’t the only force! The force of magnetism is just as strong in outer space as on Earth’s surface. In space, the force of magnetism is actually much stronger than the weak or non-existence force of gravity!

What about on our planet? Is magnetism stronger than the force of gravity on the surface of Earth? With a few simple materials, you can be the researcher and conduct your own anti-gravity experiment!

Time to Defy Gravity!

We defy gravity all the time! Have you ever jumped up high, or kicked a soccer ball into a net, or lost a frisbee in the trees? You created a force that let your body, soccer ball, or frisbee resist the force of gravity and move away from the ground instead of toward it.

Now grab a few household materials and investigate whether the force of magnetism is stronger than Earth’s gravity. You’ll need a cardboard box, cardboard, a strong magnet, paperclip, and a string – plus some crayons or markers to decorate it! Head over to Science Sparks “How to Defy Gravity” for directions on making a paper bug fly – or a paper rocket launch!

Hope Summer Science Camps are Registering Now!

Love exploring our world, inside and out? Do we have a summer camp for you! Hope Summer Science Camps has over 20 years of experience giving kids the hands-on science explorations of your dreams. Check out the Science Camps page on our website for safety updates, camp schedule, and registration links. We are excited to see you this summer!

STEM@Home: Panda-Monium

Baby giant panda Xiao Qi Ji at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Image credit: Smithsonian National Zoo.

Pandas. Are. The. Cutest! Giant pandas? Cute. Red pandas? Cute. Pandas eating bamboo? Cute! Baby pandas? That’s break-the-internet cute. Good news for your cute-o-meter – and bad news for the ‘net – the Smithsonian National Zoo is hosting a live panda event featuring their itt-bitty baby giant panda, Xiao Qi Ji!

Meet Xiao Qi Ji!

Tune in at 1:00 on January 27th for a free livestream event from Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Don’t worry if you miss it – a recording of the event will be available afterwards on the website!

Xiao Qi Ji is about four and a half months old, and like all curious babies, loves to explore. Check out the #PandaStory blog for stories about his favorite toys and videos of Xiao Qi Ji in action. Play is the name of the game for this happy baby! Exploring his surroundings, wrestling with mom, and tumbling about with toys keeps baby Xiao Qi Ji busy.

Learn Like a Baby Panda

Like babies everywhere, play gets them ready to learn skills crucial for their adult lives. One important skill for pandas is using scent to identify different individuals and mark their territory. Although giant pandas have poor eyesight, their acute sense of smell helps them move confidently through their environments. Xiao Qi Ji’s parent pandas love one scent in particular – a spicy-sweet smell called clove. Sound familiar?

Cloves are used in many holiday recipes, from gingerbread to baked hams. You might also taste it in apple pies, festive punch, or chai tea. Mmm! Just thinking about cloves gets us hungry – no wonder the pandas love it! Get your sniffer ready and try these activities designed to help you develop your sense of smell – just like baby pandas do.

Panda Scent Detective

Head over to KC Edventures and get ready to challenge your senses. First, you’ll stretch your powers of observation by setting up a “white tray” of five common, white-colored powders. Pretend you’re a panda with poor vision. Can you tell these substances apart with your just senses of smell, hearing, taste, and touch?

Honed your sense-skills? Time for Challenge #2! Most grocery stores carry a wide variety of ground brown spices that might all look alike, but taste and smell very different from each other. You might even have most of them in your kitchen’s spice drawer already!

Gather cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg and cover their labels. Practice identifying them using just your sense of smell. Try dipping apple slices lightly in the spices and comparing the flavors. Do you have a favorite, like the giant pandas? Let us know! Follow ExploreHope on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to never miss a post.

Love exploring our world, inside and out? Do we have a summer camp for you! Hope Summer Science Camps has over 20 years of experience giving kids the hands-on science explorations of your dreams. Check out the Science Camps page on our website for safety updates, camp schedule, and registration links. We are excited to see you this summer!