When we arrived at camp this morning we weren’t sure how we were going to pull this day off. Thunderstorms the night before had left the field soaked and clouds overhead threatened to put us all inside for the day. It did drizzle on and off all morning, but that didn’t stop Cody and Tegan from leading a group of enthusiastic campers in a game of flag football. These kids love sports and a little bit of rain wasn’t going to stop them. While the rest of us less weathered people waited for the sky to clear up Jordan*2, Jess, and Jenny entertained the campers with a variety of card games, corn-hole, and Ladder toss. One of the kids, Ja-marcus, had an especially fun time showing us his card tricks and trying to figure out some of our own.
Olivia and I got to play with Oobleck and make lava lamps as we taught the campers about states of matter, fluids, surface tension, viscosity, and density. We were surprised about what the kids already knew and how interested they were in learning more. The purpose of the science station is to get kids excited about pursuing careers outside of professional athletics. Throughout the day, while campers were playing with their Oobleck, Olivia would ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up. Some of the answers we got where: Biologist, Geologist, Aeronautical Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, and Air Force Pilot. It was really cool to see these inner-city middle schoolers already excited about possible careers and about science in general. Almost everyone who came through our station told us they were going to go home and make lava lamps and Oobleck on their own. They reminded me a lot of me when I was their age. Hopefully the activities we have planned for the rest of the week will help to inspire them and get them excited about learning as they enter high school.
Luckily the weather cleared up after lunch and everyone was able to get out from under the tents. Jess and Jordan Powell were able to start the teamwork building station. This involved trying to get bouncy balls to roll through semi-cylindrical tubes from one bench to a bucket on the ground. I am not sure if the goal was ever accomplished but a few of the MIT students, a counselor from Urban League, and Jennifer’s daughter Jillian were very determined to work together and get it to work. Jenny taught the kids how to make healthy snacks at the nutrition station. Maggie and Ryan spent the day helping Lynne take groups of campers on mountain biking rides. This was by far the most popular station. The caught numerous kids trying to sneak into other groups so that they could mountain bike multiple times. Even though the less than ideal weather caused today to be a little less organized we were still able to keep these kids entertained and, most importantly, teach them about mountain biking, nutrition, teamwork and science.