by Mike Carmon
WMSI’s summer camp season kicked off this year with our young makers camp--a fun and exciting place for our younger STEM explorers to delve into their maker side! We opened the door to the possibilities of STEM with creating our very own Stop Motion Animation movies to commence our first young maker camp of the season. Our campers brought to life laser-cut cardboard cut-outs, legos, and other materials with their videos, all the while working with their partners and brainstorming exciting ideas.
We debuted a brand new WMSI activity on Day 2, prompting our young makers to make their very own tops out of cardboard, wooden dowels, and different sorts of weighted materials. They tested the effectiveness of different shapes, heights, weights, and sizes on the “spinni-ness” of their homemade tops, giving them a simple yet powerful lesson in the iterative engineering process: brainstorm, design, test, redesign, retest, etc, etc…
The feature of Day 3, and the finale of our first young maker camp of the season, was another all-new experience for WMSI camps: construct a box fort! Early that morning, instructors assembled a bunch of boxes for our young makers to choose from for the purposes of constructing their portion of the fort. That afternoon, they were all given materials and a section of the fort to design out on our lawn.
We liked to think of that hour as “managed and productive chaos”, as all of our campers went to work with our instructors to produce a truly fun and sizable structure, complete with doors and windows, tunnels, rooms, a lookout tower, a periscope, LED lighting, and more! It was an hour of extremely enjoyable work, and we can’t wait to do this one again!!
This summer we shook things up a bit and held a 2-day Young Maker Camp opportunity a few weeks later, with additional STEM activities and challenges! That included the construction of wigglebots, a WMSI favorite, which consists of making a moving robot driven by a simple DC motor and attached gear. The motor-gear combo creates a centripetal force that allows the robot body (made from common materials such as recyclables, rubber bands, zip ties and wooden dowels) to move around.
Another brand-new project we launched with this 2-day camp was rubber-band helicopter construction! Using pieces fashioned out of straws, rubber bands, paper clips, Q-tips, and some other simple materials, students all crafted their very own helicopters! We wrapped up camp with helicopter test flights, and watched in awe as they took flight!