Our campers this week got to build things that go. Each day, we concentrated on a different type of vehicle. We built cars, boats, planes, and rockets out of recycled materials. The campers developed their own ideas from design to implementation. On the final day of the week, we went outside and tested our rocket designs.

We also learned about some of the science behind how things move. We discussed simple machines and searched for them around the museum. Then we took a closer look at the way wheels and axles work, before adding them to the car. We experimented with Newton’s Three Laws of Motion. We found different items that float and sink as we experimented with density. We found different ways to make things move – from the elasticity of rubber bands and the push of balloons to chemical propulsion from Alka-Seltzer or baking soda and vinegar. We talked about the dangers of boats in water for wildlife and cleaned up an oil spill.

We talked about and modeled the steps in a combustion engine – sucking the air and fuel in, squeezing the chamber until there’s a bang followed by the air blowing out. We also demonstrated lift versus weight, and thrust versus drag.

We offered a stomp launch pad for our students for their final rocket design, but many wanted to experiment with soda as fuel. Although those launches didn’t work out well, it led to a lot of experimentation with Alka-Seltzer in a water bottle as a potential for launches which was a lot of fun.