Written by Betsy Abraham Friday, 16 August 2013 00:00
Cardboard, plastic bottles, and pipe cleaners. This hodgepodge of objects might be trash for many, but for Mad Science campers, they’re the makings of a robot.
Mad Science summer camps are currently underway all over Long Island, and they allow young learners the chance to shoot off rockets, check out spy equipment, discover space, research birds, and more. Each five-day camp is interactive and focuses on one of 14 specific themes. In Crazy Chemworks, campers can play with chemical reactions and make slime. In Forensic Scientist they identify and collect evidence to solve a crime, and during Flight Academy, they spend their week learning about aerodynamics and building a rocket. Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation in Old Westbury and Fuschillo Park in Carle Place, are playing host to several camps this summer, including Eureka, Robots and
Reactions, Forensic Scientist and Junior Robotics. At last week’s Junior Robotics session in Carle Place, students spent a week building a robot, learning about gears, wires,
pulleys, and more along the way.
“They’re having fun so they don’t even know they’re learning,” camp director Hannah Carr said.
Danielle Jurgrau is the instructor at the Junior Robotics camp, and said the camp sessions are great because they’re an interactive way to teach kids.
“Everything we teach connects to how we’re building the robot, so they know why it’s working and what makes it work,” Jurgrau said. “It’s hands-on activities so they can see how it connects to what they just learned.”
The camps aren’t just for science lovers. Carr says many parents sign their kids up because the camp is an educational experience. Some lessons can be challenging for students, such as working with gears or using screwdrivers, but instructors encourage them to keep on trying.
“Sometimes they get upset but on Friday when they go home with working robots they’ll want to do it all over again,” Jurgrau said.
And campers definitely do walk away with a better knowledge. At the end of one camp session last week, when Jurgrau asked kids what they learned that day, hands shot up to talk about gears, simple machines and screws.
“This is so much better than watching TV at home,” Joseph Wood, 6, said smiling as he played with plastic gears.
Mad Science is a global franchise that was started in 1985 and came to Long Island in 2003. They host a myriad of educational programs for children, including after-school classes, assemblies, and birthday parties. For more information, visit longisland.madscience.org.