Tag Archives: Science

AstroCamp Lights and Lasers

Ever stepped foot in our Lights and Lasers classroom? There are so many cool activities inside that it might be overwhelming. From ultraviolet lights to lasers criss-crossing the room, this classroom offers tons of opportunities for hands-on learning. Light comes in many forms, but even the visible spectrum is made up of many different energies. In fact, every color of light that you can see is made up of a unique wavelength and energy. But you don’t have to take our word for it!

Lights and Lasers Glow Wall

The more energy light has, the more it will cause the wall to glow! For instance, violet is a more energetic color than red, so a violet flashlight will do a much better job causing the wall to illuminate than a red flashlight will. Campers will perform this experiment and learn for themselves about different energies of light.

Light also has very predictable properties, such as its tendency to travel in straight lines. This causes our eyes to perceive the world upside-down — our brain usually fixes this for us so we don’t get confused! But in this class, we have specially-built goggles that invert our view of the world. Campers will use these goggles to perform seemingly simple tasks such as tossing bean bags, walking across the meadow, or dueling with pool noodles.

Lights and Lasers Goggles

Lights and Lasers is a valuable part of summer camp. It allows kids to experience the phenomena associated with light while working together and having fun. This is one of many classes that will teach skills that campers will carry for the rest of their lives. Lights and lasers is available during summer and school year.

Written by Amanda Williams and Scott Yarbrough

Technology

Technology vs. Technology!

Technology is practically inescapable in today’s day and age. Everyone has a smart phone, computer, tablet, gaming system, or some combination. It is used every single day for communication, entertainment, or as a tool.

Here at camp we highly encourage all of our students to put away their electronics and focus on the experience at hand. However that is not to say that we don’t love using technology. In fact, we try to focus on technology that is mindful rather than mindless.  But how can you tell the difference between mindless technology and mindful technology?

Mindless technology can be the use of cell phones, video games, surfing the internet, etc. It is a way to simply pass the time with minimal interactions of thought processes or other people. It is the scrolling through a news feed or flicking through images. This is the technology that we are ditching at AstroCamp.

Instead, we have a few classes focused on mindful technology, the use of electronics to expand your brain. A few example are building robots in our robotics class, using special programs to design something to be 3D printed, making a windmill, creating extreme videos of awesome adventures such as mountain biking or scuba diving. Mindful technology is using computers, cameras, and other electronics as a resource and tool. This is the type of technology that we want our campers to get experience with and their hands on.

So the next time you are on your computer or smart phone ask yourself, is this for mindless or mindful reasons? If it is for mindless, is there a way that you can turn it into mindful? Your time is valuable and important. Don’t cheat yourself by wasting it away. Rather, create something or learn about something every chance you get.

 

The Power of Air!

 

How did the can get crushed? You could see in the video it wasn’t pushed in by the tongs, so what did it!? This very simple experiment works because of something called Charles’s Law. Charles’s Law says that a gas will get bigger if it gets hotter, or smaller if it gets colder, as long as the pressure doesn’t change.

One thing that you can’t see in the video is that the water in the can is boiling. This means that the can is full of water vapor that is around 200℉! Next, the can is placed open-side down into a container of cool water, probably about 50℉. Note that we aren’t changing the pressure, so Charles’s Law tells us what happens next. The cold water cools down the water vapor, causing it to contract (and even condense!), but this is not what really crushes the can. The real culprit….is air.

Can.jpg

Air doesn’t seem to weigh anything. We can’t see it, or pick it up and hold it in our hands very well. However, that doesn’t mean it is light! The atmosphere weighs a whopping 6,000,000,000,000,000 tons! The earth is pretty big, but that means that at sea level, there is about 15 pounds of air pushing down on every single square inch!

However, not everything gets crushed by the atmosphere. Your body effortlessly pushes back on the air to not get squished, just like the hot air in the can pushed out to keep the can from imploding. However, when the cold water cooled and contracted the air, there was nothing to push out against the atmosphere, and no way for the atmosphere to get in. So yes, the air just crushed it!

This is a great DIY experiment to do at home or try in class! It requires few materials, and can teach a lot of science! Charles’s Law is a very powerful idea, and is half of the Ideal Gas Law, which is seen in both chemistry and physics classes!

Note that this is the same principle that we used to get our egg into the bottle experiment!

DIY Science Experiment: Egg in a Bottle

You might be asking yourself why you would want to put an egg in a bottle. The answer is, of course, for science! This is a great experiment for explaining the basics of the ideal gas law. Mainly, that gases expand and contract when they change temperature. Here we will explore how to actually do the experiment, and what the science is behind it.

Materials:

  • Peeled hard boiled eggs. Note that if they crack during peeling, they will likely not survive the ordeal!

  • Bottle with a neck smaller than the egg. Erlenmeyer flasks work great!

  • Matches, or a small piece of flammable material

  • Workspace clear of burning hazards

That’s it!

Doing the experiment:

  • Read the steps first. They have to happen quickly!

  • Light a match or something small and flammable. A small piece of paper works great!. In the video, we use four strike-anywhere matches.

  • Drop your flaming object of choice into the flask. With matches, do it quickly! If you wait too long, there wont be enough fire to heat the air!

  • Put the egg on top of the flask so it completely covers the opening. This must be done quickly

  • Watch!

You should see the fire go out and the egg get sucked into the bottle shortly thereafter.

What happened?

The fire rapidly heats the air in the flash. Then, the fire should quickly become starved of oxygen and go out. Once the fire stops and the air begins to cool. The molecules in the gas slow down as it cools, decreasing the pressure inside the flask. The air pressure outside is then greater, and pushes the egg down the seemingly-too-small neck of the bottle. Because the air pushes equally from all sides, the egg stays intact, unlike if you had done it with your hand!

How do I get it out?!

There are three good ways to do this.

  1. Get something pokey, like a butter knife, and chop the egg into bits and dump it out. Messy. Not my favorite.

  2. Blow in behind the egg (like in the video–note, we shook the matches out first for safety). The hot air on your breath should be enough to push it out.

  3. Flip the flask over so the egg covers the opening from within. Run hot tap water over the base of the flask. As the air inside heats up, it pushes the egg out, simply doing the experiment in reverse!

WELCOME TO ASTRO BLOG

We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. AstroCamp is a hands-on physical science program with an emphasis on astronomy and space exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and astronomical happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree in Physics or Astronomy, however it is not uncommon for them to have a Masters Degree or PhD. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science, space and astronomy information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.astrocampsummer.org for additional information. Happy Reading!

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