The African American Ethnic Academy and the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute (BTC Institute), both 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organizations, have collaborated for twenty years in offering A Celebration of Life, a summer science program for upper elementary and middle school students. The program is open to all area students, with tuition reimbursement and transportation provided for those who need that assistance.
With supporting grants from the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, an educational arm of NASA, two summer science camps are offered this year – one for upper elementary and one for middle schools students. We just completed the first session, full mornings for two weeks for students entering 3rd–5th grade and have launched the second one, same format, for middle school students this week.
Needless to say, the theme of Wild Weather! lends itself to a wide array of hands-on, exploratory activities. Here are a few of our favorites that you may wish to try out with the kids in your life.
Materials: 2 empty 2-liter bottles, sink, 2 people.
1) Fill bottles to the same volume, about 2/3 full.
2) One person should swirl one of the bottles creating a vortex.
3) At the same time the water should be poured out of the vortex and no vortex bottles into the sink.
4) Who wins the race?
Tornado in a Bottle
Materials: 2 empty 2-liter bottles, water, food coloring (optional), duct tape.
1) Fill one bottle ½ full of water.
2) Add a drop of food coloring to the water in the bottle.
3) Duct tape the empty bottle to the bottle with water in it, taping around the mouths of both bottles.
4) Swirl the bottles, turn over and you have a…TORNADO!
Lightning on a Plate
Materials: white paper plate, white plastic fork, black pepper.
1) Sprinkle a small amount of black pepper on to white paper plate.
2) Rub plastic fork in your hair to create static electricity.
3) Hold fork ~½ inch over the pepper.
4) What happens?
A long-term objective of A Celebration of Life is to increase the number of minority students who enroll in—and successfully complete—high school science courses, and who eventually choose to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In addition to developing knowledge and abilities associated with scientific investigations in field and laboratory settings (e.g. formulating and testing hypotheses, utilizing problem-solving skills, learning and demonstrating correct techniques), students are challenged to develop their communication skills through teamwork, journals, and presentations to parents and family members. They are also encouraged to express and develop their creativity in numerous ways.
Information regarding African-American STEM professionals, historic and contemporary, is shared. Role models of color are key players in program activities. This year, Professor Michael Morgan, UW-Madison Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences and Dr. Carol McCartney, Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey are providing talks and activities for both sessions.
Our elementary group was hosted by meteorologist Bob Lesh at Channel 3, WISC-TV our local CBS affiliate station in Madison, WI, USA on June 19th. He showed us weather and broadcast equipment, and we got to watch and be part of News 3 at Noon! Our middle school students will visit this Friday, July 3rd.
We’re having a great summer!