Recap of Science Camp, by Ms. Puffer

Hi,

 If you have a 4th Grader, this will be of special interest to you as you plan ahead for next year!!!  Enjoy!

SCIENCE CAMP
Lisa Puffer, Peirce 5th grade
After spending a wonderful four days at W. Alton Jones Science Camp with the 5th graders from both Peirce and Dallin Elementary School, I thought it may be nice to write what Science camp was like from the teacher’s point of view!  Each student was assigned a field group of 10-12 students led by a well-educated and thoughtful Field guide. I was able to spend quality of time with each of the different field groups over the four days. It was so much fun!

On the first day, I spent time with a group working on team building skills. I have to say, that this is one of my favorite types of activity for students to do to learn to work together.  There was a 10’-0” long rope that was put around a tree trunk with 5 students on one side holding the rope with both their hands and 5 students on the other side of the tree holding the rope with both their hands.  Without letting go, the group had to work together to tie the rope into a square knot around the tree (no student could be between the square knot and the tree).  The group I was with had a hard time coming up with the right answer, but their team work and support of each other won them accolades for great team effort!!

The next activity was through the woods on a “Geology” lesson.  Our field guide explained how the topography was formed from glaciers and other forces that shaped New England during the walk. My favorite part was when the students were given cards that reviewed the time span from when the “big bang” happened to today. This involved the students figuring out as a team, who had the oldest card to read first, and based on chronological order the next based date and so forth. Each card required the student to take x amount of steps to represent the amount in time that passed [from 58 steps down to the width of a pinky]. It was a great way to help students understand the passing of time. We finished the hike by heading into the classroom to learn more about the 3 basic types of rocks; sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous.
Tuesday night all the groups went on a “Night Walk” where the students saw firsthand an optical phenomenon when one strikes two quartz rocks together to create light [called Triboluminescence] followed by biting into a wintergreen lifesaver to create light in the mouth. The hike continued to observe different types of growth in the woods that emit light [Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism]. The field guide taught the group how to navigate in the dark by understanding which parts of our eyes work in the dark and how they adjust to the dark – no flashlights needed! Afterwards the group went into the classroom to learn about astronomy [it was too cloudy outside].  The lesson was on constellations and who and how they were formed. Each student created their own constellation complete with a unique story to tell about why this constellation.

The next morning I joined a field group out to the pond for a lesson on “Wetlands and Ponds”. The weather was not conducive to finding many living things in the pond – the water was 13 degrees Celsius [approx. 55 degrees Fahrenheit] and late in the fall. The students however, really enjoyed locating baby salamanders, water skidders, even slugs [a big hit].  Then they were able to do a quality water test to help them determine the PH of the water as well as the dissolved oxygen in the water.

Wednesday night I was involved in a group that played bat and mouse where the students learned to use their hearing – one student played the mouse (a land version of Marco polo) and another student was the bat [blindfolded], using only his/her hearing of the mouse to reach out and catch the mouse. The students loved this game!  They made games even educational!!!

The field groups were taken into the classrooms to do two events – a mysterious thing event (ask your student as I was not involved in this event); and “egg dropping” event.  Each field group worked to build a housing to support an egg that when dropped to the ground would not break.  They were given items from the woods (pine needs and twigs) and a few man-made items (string, tape and a plastic bag).  Another big hit amongst the crowd!

I spent time with a group that went on a “Survival Skills” lesson where the students hiked for 2 hours on the property. The students discussed what would be the “10 essential things to bring hiking” [by working as a team to decide what they were]; they built a shelter made completely and only out of what they could find in the woods so that they would be prepared in case they ever get lost and needed to protect themselves overnight. Part of the hike we took a break in an area where we learned how to build a fire by gathering the proper type of tinder, kindling and timber. Finally, we worked together to learn, what I think is one of the more important lessons, how to properly use a compass. Ask them about “red in the shed, then follow Fred”

Thursday night was the big campfire finale!  The kids and adults really enjoyed themselves. We all were led out into the woods to a defined area where a large fire was already blazing surrounded by man-made benches around the fire on 3 sides.  As we sat and became comfortable, the field guides lead an evening of songs, skits and just plain old fun!  Some skits included students picked from the audience, a lot of the songs were “Repeat after me songs” – “Repeat after me songs”.

Woke up Friday morning to a little sadness – it was our last day.  The staff saved the best game for last.  It is called Predator Prey – and if you have not heard about this game from your child – that is a great conversation starter.  The game consists of four levels in the food chain – mice, snakes, minks and hawks.  As you can imagine the mice ran for their lives all the time, snakes and minks were happy when they caught a mouse but had to run from the hawks.  Each group had to find the five basic needs of living organisms in order to survive over time (ask your fifth grader what the five basic needs are).  The game helped students understand the food chain, how energy flows through the food chain, how chemicals can affect the food chain and how humans impact the food chain!  I was the only human impact running around the field in the game and I could either help a group – offer shelter to mice that needed to grow with a new shed in my back yard, or hurt a group – as a developer of land that cut trees and killed off some hawks and snakes; or be a buyer for Nordstrom’s who needed to kill mink to fill orders for mink hats and a mink coat.

Whew – even writing this reminds me how tired I was after four days.  The students were great and we all learned a lot together!

 

 

human impact running around the field in the game and I could either help a group – offer shelter to mice that needed to grow with a new shed in my back yard, or hurt a group – as a developer of land that cut trees and killed off some hawks and snakes; or be a buyer for Nordstrom’s who needed to kill mink to fill orders for mink hats and a mink coat.

Whew – even writing this reminds me how tired I was after four days.  The students were great and we all learned a lot together!

 

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