By Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The Schriever School Age Program capped off its Science Camp by launching several model Estes rockets here July 2.
The launches were the final part of a mock event designed to help students learn about multiple scientific disciplines.
“The kids are scientists the whole week,” said Sam Birchenough, Monahan LLC Science Camp staff member. “The first day they’re coming to this conference [and] they get name tags with different scientific jobs. Then there is this crisis, an impact. The rest of the week is spent trying to solve this problem and figure out what happened.”
Birchenough said the crisis is a meteorite strike and students must use the scientific method to determine exactly what happened. Each day is dedicated to using a different science to help solve various problems that occur as a result of the strike.
“A lot of day one is on scientific method, [which they then apply] to find out what happened,” he said.
The rest of the week covers topics such as robotics, biology, electronics, astronomy and rocketry. Because they were here during a holiday week, Birchenough said they skipped the electronics and astronomy portions in order to allow for the rocket launches.
“This week, because they had [Friday] off for the holiday, we skipped the Thursday session and just moved rockets to Thursday because that’s more exciting,” he said. “We build little model Estes rockets and [the students] launch them. That’s usually the highlight of the week.”
Typically, the science camp staff will have a program for youth age 9-12 and a separate program for youth 13-18 but tweaked them to fit Schriever’s SAP demographics.
“We only have youth up to age 12,” said Vicki Rygiel, School Age Program coordinator. “Because we don’t have a lot of 9-12 year-olds, we opened it up to 8 year-olds.”
The 14 participants in the camp were divided into teams of three or four, with each team designing its own hypothesis, experiments, robots and rockets.
In addition to the rockets, students also built LEGO robots (in order to pick up radioactive materials for testing) and dissected frogs (to learn if material from the meteorite had caused infections in local wildlife).
“They get to learn a little bit of anatomy because we go over external and internal anatomy and we always try to tie it back to the story of the meteorite,” said Gabriel Diaz, Monahan LLC Science Camp staff member. “We put a little bit of germ glow on organs they took out. When they’re looking at it under the microscope, we have them shine a UV light on it and they can see it’s glowing and it’s infected.”
Rygiel said the science camp staff takes time to explain how the experiments work, and why they’re important in the context of the mock strike.
“This is a full educational program,” Rygiel said. “We’re fortunate to have them.”
Other SAP staff noticed how well the science camp staff was able to keep students focused throughout the week.
“These guys are awesome,” said Kristin Moseley, SAP program assistant. “They kept the kids engaged all week. They’ve been pretty cool.”
Rygiel said the Science Camp is one of three Air Force funded theme camps scheduled for the summer. In June, the SAP held a music camp that allowed students to learn about recording and video editing and create their own music video or CD. The Missoula Theatre Company will be here July 27-31 to help youth present “Black Beard and the Pirates.”
The Schriever SAP is open to children ages 5-12, who have started kindergarten. Children of active duty military, reservists on active duty orders, Department of Defense appropriated and non-appropriated fund employees and contractors working on Schriever are eligible to attend.
The summer program will continue until Aug. 14. Before and after school care and daily school bus transportation is available to children attending Ellicott School District 22. Children residing in other districts are eligible for care on scheduled school closures and snow days.
For more information, or to register your child, contact Rygiel at 567-4742.