Campers Have a Blast with Science Experiments

Demi Dorsey, Taylor Glass and Paige Templeton work together to build a rocket with some help from professor Dr. Kris Dougherty.Elementary school students fired off rockets, built baking soda and vinegar-powered cars and launched balloons from a sling shot — all in the name of science — this week.

Those activities and more are part of a full schedule for science camp, which continues next week with an exploration of renewable energy. The University’s Center for Integrative Science Learning, which hosts the camp, also offers an institute for sixth through twelfth grade students.

On Thursday morning, Kyle Lipp, Max Shiver and Peyton Diller huddled around a lab table to put the finishing touches on their rocket made out of a recycled soda bottle.

“I want to write Apollo 25, like we’re traveling to the moon for the 25th time,” said Shiver, who wants to be an astronaut.

Professor Dr. Kris Dougherty coached them on design: “You want the fins to be really strong, because you don’t want the fins to bend.”

Students learn about how the rocket’s design, such as the fin shape and the shape of the cone at the top, affects the flight path of the rocket, said camp co-director Professor Sara Browning. The water-propelled rockets also illustrate Newton’s third law: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

The boys contemplated just how far their rocket might travel.

“What if it actually went to space?” Lipp wondered. “It can explode very, very easily.”

Diller chimed in, “It can explode. Ours won’t.”

Dr. Linda Sedlacek counts down as a group of science campers prepares to launch a rocket on the Warren Plaza. The experiment taught students about physics and how the design of a rocket affects its flight path.After the seven- and eight-year-olds were satisfied with their rockets, they prepared for liftoff on the Warren Plaza. Dr. Linda Sedlacek filled the rockets with water, and the campers worked in pairs to pump in air with a bicycle pump. A third teammate pulled the string to launch the rocket at the end of a countdown by the other campers. 

The activity taught Taylor Glass, Demi Dorsey and Paige Templeton about collaboration.

“It takes teamwork to build one rocket,” Dorsey said. Added Templeton: “We all worked together.”

Next week, the focus will shift to renewable energy. Campers will learn why it is important, how carbon dioxide affects the environment and what types of renewable energy — wind, water and solar — can help people produce electricity, Browning said. At the end of the week, campers will explore energy efficiency.

Camp tuition is $225 per student. Institute tuition is $300 per student. For more information or to register your child for the second week, please click here.

Photo 1: Demi Dorsey, Taylor Glass and Paige Templeton work together to build a rocket with some help from professor Dr. Kris Dougherty.

Photo 2: Dr. Linda Sedlacek counts down as a group of science campers prepares to launch a rocket on the Warren Plaza. The experiment taught students about physics and how the design of a rocket affects its flight path.